Author: Matthias Gall

A lamp post with a sticker on it, showing the word HEY.

Hey! You are not alone.

Many things kept me busy the last weeks. Today, I write about another, already running side project. You may have heard about the hey.com controversy in the last few weeks. Long story short, hey.com built an app for a subscription product, didn’t want to let users pay through In App Purchases and lose up to 30% to Apple, got their initial release approved and a subsequent bugfix update rejected for violation of the App Store guidelines. Basecamp, the makers of Hey, used their social media and press outreach for a huge and effective outcry right before WWDC and eventually caused Apple to make some improvements to the App Store guidelines and also offer a way forward to get their app re-approved with some changes. Before I move on, I’ll show you something I was working on. Very proudly, I must say. These are some of the App Store images that I had prepared. Ignore the fact that the texts are German, it’s not relevant for my point. The app hasn’t made it into the store, …

Credit where credit is due – About the tagline

As I wrote in my introductory post for 20 Seconds, I wanted to share some more detail about where I got the 20 Seconds tagline from – Remove the random in event matchmaking. On Saturday, January 4th, I was busy doing research for the product and filling my product definition document. By accident, I came across an industry podcast called The Exhibitionists, and the second episode from the top displayed on Spotify happend to be called “Matchmaking and the art of turning online ones and zeros into real world heroes”. Obviously, that got me interested. I started listening with half an ear while collecting trade show attendee numbers in order to come up with a rough addressable market figure. One of the podcasters, Antony Reeve-Crook, was interviewing Mykyta Fastovets of ExpoPlatform. In their conversation, 11:40 minutes into the episode, Mykyta said something that immediately attracted my full attention: “I think our job as providers of matchmaking solutions is actually to reduce the random, you know, increase the serendipity,…” Mykyta Fastovets on the Dec 5th 2019 episode …

Shutting down an old project

More than three years ago, I launched BotPreview, a web application to create HTML, GIF or MP4 video previews of chatbot interactions. When Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of the Facebook Messenger Platform at F8 2016, I thought it was a pretty big deal. I am fascinated by the paradigm shift that chatbots introduce. While we worked hard towards a responsive, mobile-first, retina-ready, cutting-edge user experience, chatbots reduce UI/UX to one of the very basic means of user interface: text input and text output. I, in 2017 I was expecting a second “app store hype”, a wave of bots and micro-apps for Messenger. I wanted to be part of that hype. I tried to learn as much as I could about the Messenger Platform. First, I wrote a pre-order bot where restraurants could maintain their menus and users could pre-order meals and get notified once they’re ready for pick up. Then I wrote a simple Amazon price drop notification bot. People could add Amazon products to their wishlists and the bot would notify them when …

Introducing: 20 Seconds

I started this posting a couple of times. Once in mid February while waiting for boarding, still unaware of how bad the crisis would become soon. Once again from the sofa in my living room, with a ban on public gatherings in place and thousands of deaths in Europe. Every time, the news became only worse. Sars-CoV-2 kept tightening its noose around the world. One of the many consequences of the spread was that one trade fair after another got postponed or cancelled. MWC, GDC, ITB, FIBO,… expodatabase.de currently lists 1306 cancelled or postponed fairs and exhibitions worldwide (24/03/20). Why am I writing this on RoadToMRR.com? Well, coincidentally my business idea happens to be in the trade fair space. But let’s go back in time a couple of years first – 13 years, specifically. Inception of an Idea Back in 2007, two things came together: I met my now wife through online dating. Profiles were quite static, pictures were mostly of rather bad quality, and frankly speaking, it was all quite a gamble until you …

Plans for February and a look back on January

I guess this month’s kick off posting could also be called, “How to move on while feeling like a fraud.”. While I am writing this, I am still anxious about the progress of January. It wasn’t as good as I hoped. A look back on January Here’s a quick overview of what I had planned to do and how far I got with it. ❌ Write a basic product definition document – 20%I worked on it, but unfortunately I am still far from a complete version. I didn’t write continuously, but in two peaks. One peak was early January, when I was still on Christmas vacation and had a bit more time on my hands. The other peak was the weekend before I had the initial call with the graphic designer. There was little to zero progress on the remaining days. ✅ Get a designer on board – 100%Check! I’ve had an initial call with him on the evening of January 20th, and he’s now working on the first assignment, which is a collection of Landing …

Status Update on Quitter’s Day

I’ve read that today is Quitter’s Day, the day people are most likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. Probably a good day for a quick status update. I need to admit, the progress so far was a bit disappointing. I am feeling like an impostor already because I’ve announced this project with bells and whistles, and now I am hardly posting at all. But I’m not quitting! As I wrote in my plan for January, this month, I am focussing on fleshing out and documenting the business idea into a product definition document. This is still ongoing, and my disappointment stems from the amount of text I’ve only produced so far. I am trying to align this with the other activity, getting a designer on board. Therefore, I don’t dig deep into the technology and features. Instead, I am more looking at the (future) product from a number of other angles, all of which deserve their own blog post(s) in the future: Problem Statement One of the main goals was to verbalize …

Plans for January

The starting gun has been fired, so it’s about time to lay out my plans for January. 1. Write a basic product definition document So far, my product idea exists mostly in my head. And for a single indie hacker, that’s usually fine and good enough to get started. my dev life in a nutshell pic.twitter.com/85A0lZczhw — Kitze (@thekitze) January 2, 2020 As I wanted to do things a little different this time, I decided to document the idea first and then keep iterating on it whenever something new pops up. Documenting will not only help me to verbalize my product idea (including handy stuff like a pitch or an executive summary) and work out as many details as possible right from the start, without having written a single line of code. It will also serve as a basis for the next two steps planned for this month. 2. Get a designer on board I am lucky enough to have worked with a couple of incredibly talented graphic artists and designers, either through my hobbyist …

Happy New Year 2020

The decade has come to an end, a new one is on it’s dawn. On Twitter, everybody is contemplating about their past decennial. I can’t help but think about the next one. When we’ll wave goodbye the 2020’s on 31/12/2029 (and given that I’ll be lucky enough to see it), I will be 50 years old. Gulp. In my 2000’s, I made amazing friends and formed important relationships which were determining for the next decade. I met my wife, I met my co-founders, and I met a couple of friends of whom some even became long-time coworkers and/or employees. In the 2010’s I started multiple companies (first 2010), got married and started a family with two wonderful kids (all in 2013). One business in particular runs to this day and accounts for the larger part of my families’ income. But, to put it with ABBA (yes, I am that old): It’s the end of a decadeIn another ten years timeWho can say what we’ll findWhat lies waiting down the lineIn the end of eighty-nine twenty-nineteen …

Free business idea: “Second Screen”

Today I found an article on Hacker News (#1) quoting Mary Meeker’s Annual Internet Trends report for 2019: 88% = Use A Second Digital Device While Watching TV71% = Look Up Content Related To Content They Are Watching Mary Meeker’s Annual Internet Trends Report (Slide 38) (#2) My mind started to wander, from Amazon’s “X-Ray” in Prime Movies (displaying cast or played song in the current scene, and more information) to Christoph, an employee in one of my companies, who could easily be considered a living version of “X-Ray” and a film critic, too. Then this idea for an app called “Second Screen” formed in my head: Second Screen allows film critics to add their comments to a movie on a timestamp basis (like e.g. SoundCloud allows commenting on a specific second of a music track), and to replay the comments of one or multiple critics while watching a film. The app could become a new medium for newcomer critics, interesting/unpopular perspectives, or education. The app could offer (professional or popular) critics to put a …

How much Monthly Recurring Revenue?

Let’s set that straight right away. Making revenue doesn’t necessarily mean making profit. One could make billions of revenue and still operate with a loss because their expenses are too high. WeWork was a recent example with a reported revenue of $1.8 billion, but losses of $1.9 billion in 2018 (#1). For a side project though, I should be making profits quite early. I don’t plan to invest much more into it than my available spare time, and I will avoid putting a strain on my bank account by all means. So hopefully, the first paying customer will mean profit and the cost to that point will be very low. Why MRR I want a side business to scale and that doesn’t work with anything having me involved directly. For that reason, I won’t do consulting as a side gig, for example. I would be able to earn some extra income from it, but I could only consult one client at a time and I would have to keep investing my spare time to generate …