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Ask HN: How did you find your great side project idea?
133 points by bobnarizes 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments

I solved a problem that I had at work. I needed a tool to make interacting with HTTP APIs easier, and didn't like any of the existing ones, so I created Insomnia [https://insomnia.rest/].

It took a weekend to build a proof of concept, then I released it to the public. As I improved it, the user base grew slowly. Then, a year later, I was able to quit my job to pursue it full-time. If you're curious, I have an Interview [https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/insomnia] on Indie Hackers with more detail.

I would be tempted to try it if you could name a few reasons it would be better than Postman.

I know the "if it works for you, stick with it" saying, but I would really like to give it a go if it would have better features I may not be aware about!

Congrats on the app and being able to work on it full-time! That's a big achievement!

I've been wanting to write a blog post on this for a long time, but have failed to come up with a concise way to describe the benefits. I usually say something like "Insomnia is better at being an HTTP client because that's all it does". If you use the less-HTTP-client-like feature of Postman like automated testing or mocking, and enjoy it, then Postman is the tool for you. However, if you don't need those features, Insomnia offers a better experience (my opinion) by means of a simpler, nicer, and easier interface. Oh, and Insomnia is also open source :)


Postman's links would replace the response of your request instead of opening in a new tab/window and you would lose the entire response body. This was incredibly annoying and caused me look for alternatives. It came down to Paw or Insomnia and Insomnia was free. The user experience is _far better_ than Postman's. For example, it saves API requests/responses, so you can always see what the last X requests/responses were. Most of my team has moved from using Postman to Insomnia now.

I've found that Postman doesn't always play very nicely with CORS because it's limited to what Chrome is willing to let it to, Insomnia doesn't have this problem at all so I've made the jump

I've built a few internal tools for work that have also become publicly-used tools. Nothing generating salary-replacing revenue. But the point is that you may already be doing it, or it may be staring you in the face. Great "ideas" don't have to come from moments of creative brilliance.


> You agree that Floating Keyboard Software may collect and use information gathered in any manner as part of the product support services provided to you, if any, related to Insomnia REST Client. Floating Keyboard Software may also use this information to provide notices to you which may be of use or interest to you.

Wait what? I guess I won't be going anywhere near this thing.

I'm not quite sure why this worries you but I can tell you what it means. Information collected is generic app usage data like number of launches, most used features, etc. The notices include help tips, feature suggestions, and prompts to upgrade to a Plus plan.

The app is completely open source, and you can see everything it's doing here: http://github.com/getinsomnia/insomnia

The main issue I had when trying Insomnia was, everytime I have to create a new request or manually duplicate existing one. With Postman, I can simply edit the existing request and when I execute, I will have both the old and new one in the history. Maybe, It is an issue only for me. But for me this feature is a deal breaker.

Wow, nice work. Just downloaded and tested it out, I'll definitely be using this.

Let me know how it goes :)

Insomnia is the best graphical HTTP client for me. I've been using it and recommending it since the HN announcement. At my previous workplace it sticked and now they also use it everyday. Props for a great product.

I use Insomnia everyday. Thank you for making it! I shared it with my coworkers and described it as the REST client I would make if I were to make a REST client. Happy to hear it's working out for you :)

You're very welcome :)

What a great story. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your early success - best of luck for more success to come!

Thanks for the encouragement!

I missed turntable.fm and I found the current alternatives lacking so I built a better one: https://www.jqbx.fm if you're interested.

IMO there's no shame in working on your own derivation of an existing idea (take FB as one example). Sometimes a tweak here or there can be the difference between a good idea and game-changing one. Also it gives you the chance to 'edit' an existing product which is both a fun and thought provoking experience that can really hone your skills.

Hey! Nice job I really like the idea and how it works.

One thing I have noticed that sort-of breaks the experience for me is that every song change, room change, or anything else that stops music automatically changes my current device on spotify to the incorrect device.

So constantly change it back to my work computer rather than my home computer it a huge pain currently.

Are you changing it via Spotify or via the app? If you do it through the app it should save a cookie and stick with the device you selected from that point forward (the way to change devices is by clicking on the 'desktop' icon on the top right of the header next to your username). If that doesn't do the trick- let me know so I can look into it more. Thanks!

I was changing rooms via the app, and just sitting and letting the songs play while in a room, and the only way to hear them would be to manually change it on my Spotify app.

Couldn't properly log in via Spotify :(

You need to have a premium account- was that the issue or is it something else I should look into?

You can also try the 'click here to retry' button which should do the trick if you do in fact have Spotify premium.

Nope. I have a premium account. I retried multiple times as well :\

Sorry to hear that! I'll look into it and hopefully get it resolved asap

this looks awesome!

thanks- appreciate it! Hopefully I'll see you on there ;)

Yeah you hit the nail on the head. I'm nervous about the time investment given their current status. Maybe once chance's check clears...[1]

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/chance-the-rapper-soundcloud/

I just signed in and sync with spotify I'm about 50/50 soundcloud / spotify

Are you planning on adding soundcloud integration? Given the recent soundcloud layoffs and financial trouble I would understand if you were hesitant about putting in that time

This is a cliché but honest answer — I was using a similar tool and thought to myself “man, I could make something better than this.” I have this impulse a lot, and usually I stop myself from actually following through (there is always so much complication hiding below the surface!) but I kept coming back to it.

Eventually, I set a deadline for myself; I said if, six months later, I couldn’t scratch the itch to make something better (or at least find something better) than what I was using, then I’d start working on it.

The six months passed, and so it was born:


"Basic email analytics: opens" I'm curious. Have you figured out an accurate method? I've seen various flawed attempts (like an embedded image). Nice and clean website.

Thanks for sharing. I'm going to try it out as I do need a quick way to get a newsletter going.

Heads up there are a couple of broken images on the home page on mobile.

Would you mind sending me a screenshot at justin [at] buttondown [dot] email? All the icons are emoji, so I'm guessing there's some weird unicode issue.

The image for the two captions below shows as a box with an X in it.

* A nice, pretty subscription page. (There's also an embeddable widget and a REST endpoint, if you'd prefer that.)

* Newsletters are all automatically published to an RSS/ATOM feed.

On Chrome/Android.

Not that I've had any time to do them, but I have often written up entire business plans just based off of profiting from something that makes me angry.

For example, when I had a contract programming business 10 years ago I absolutely despised the RFP process. I still have a business plan sitting around built entirely around that flow. I still hate the RFP process, but I figured if this thing is going to still be a thing I may as well make money off of it.

If I ever had free time to just sit and build stuff day after day you'd end up with this entire incoherent set of businesses based on things that I couldn't stand. :)

I was fortunate enough (as a philosophy major) to land a software developer job (CS minor) coming out of college. I made way more money than I needed, so I started investigating charities to donate to. I found the whole process of getting involved in philanthropy kind of frustrating. That led to me creating Sublime Fund[1] with some friends. It's pretty bare bones right now, but it's something that feels meaningful to me, and I'm happy to invest time into making it better.

[1] https://sublimefund.org

I write down 5-10 quick ideas per day just by surfing around, reading articles or building upon current techniques or current features. 99% doesn't become anything, the 1% is usually a combination of other ideas put into one.

I did a bunch of ~$100 jobs as a freelancer on UpWork. It was the same work over and over again. I decided I needed to automate the work, and, long story short, I ended with an online tool that allowed customers to do the work themselves. It's cheaper for them and more profitable for me now.

Unrelated tip: beware trying to make money targeting developers. We are a bunch of cheap asses, and we expect everything to be free. Target consumers and/or businesses instead.

I solved my own problem. I cut the cord two years ago, but I love to watch college football. When doing research this year to figure out where to stream each game, I realized that a lot of people would be doing this same research.

I built [https://wherecaniwatchmy.team] as a site specifically for determining which streaming service is best for watching a specific sports team.

I'm no entrepreneur, but I think it's something that could actually turn into a basic side income.

You don't find it, it finds you. You first have a problem or see a problem that annoys you, later you discover how to solve that issue and make a world little better place. Finally you get hands on and create a side project with the idea that solves the problem.

Or simple you like to do something by passion and spend time on it.

Like many others I got the idea because of an itch I had with work.

I run a small SaaS and I found myself constantly creating and updating HTML pages of various types: help and documentation for users, landing pages, product description, in-app content etc... There are myriad solutions for each of these, but none really nailed the use-case to me so I imagined what I really wanted and started building it.

It's taken a long time but Cicerone is getting close to an alpha release. Basically it's the most pleasant way of creating structured HTML content that I could come up with. http://cicerone.co

Nice! Looks pretty similar to what I'm building at https://pragma.build (if you like to try Pragma send me a DM on Twitter @pragmaApp)

Thanks! Yes I think there are bunch of us trying to rethink rich editors (for example: all the block-based editors, prosemirror, WP's Gutenberg, etc...)

Can it be summarised as React for static sites?

There is a similarity with React (and Vue, etc...) in that it's based on the idea of components. But the similarity ends there (and the project is not based on React). The core capability is to interact with your page directly as you build it, something that is not within React's scope.

I was frustrated running into seg faults while working on an OS project for my undergrad. I wanted a tool to quickly prototype bitwise operations without having to write and compile C code. I made bspl which is a REPL to do exactly that [https://crates.io/crates/bspl]. Like others have said here, the project usually finds you. And it's up to you to drive it to completion.

For us, the idea came from working at a startup doing something completely different. We were developing a software to leverage the Cloud as primary storage. At the time I joined, I wanted to understand the space better and how our competitors were positioning themselves. I looked for tools that can show top performing content across blogs and social media networks, I wanted to see what type of messaging was resonating with people and driving the most traffic and engagement. I found a few but they lacked the simplicity and ease of use that I had in mind. Most would return the results in an excel/table format or just give you a link with some stats and force you to manually visit each link to see the actual content and what people were saying. After I left the company, I decided to pursue this idea and build a social media management platform that can solve this problem (among others). In a nutshell, the idea came from a problem I encountered in the past. Our platform is going live in a couple of weeks https://socialweaver.com.

A friend just asked me about a service like this; I will share your platform with them. (btw, the number of channels stated in your blog post does not match the numbers on your pricing page.)

As an employee, I saw my past bosses making the same mistakes over and over. The problems stem from the fact that they are usually engineers promoted to a management role, but they get no training whatsoever. So I did some research, and I'm writing a short book discussing the essentials of day to day management; with a focus on communication.

That would be an interesting read. Where do I subscribe to get notified on release?

Thanks for your interest! It's here: https://www.thenewrole.com/

I'm happy to hear any kind of feedback and criticism.

The more people you talk to and experiences you expose yourself to the more ideas you will have.

I spoke at PyCon AU 2016 on "Controlling a 3D Printer with Python" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgvnPB_77z8). I wanted a 3D-printed prop and came up with an idea for The Pythonic Staff of Enlightenment - a staff with the Python logo on top. A friend designed it, I printed it and it was a big hit with the Pythonistas. A few asked "where can I buy one?".

A year later we're about to launch Enstaved (https://www.enstaved.com). It's a service that lets you design your own staff using a range of toppers and colors which we then print and post to you.

You can also train your brain to be better at coming up with ideas. In his book Choose Yourself (my review here: https://jimter.net/book-review-james-altucher-choose-yoursel...) James Altucher talks about training your "Idea Muscle" by sitting down every day and writing down 10 ideas, no matter how stupid they seem. It sounds a little cheesy but over time it works.

I started by scratching my own itch, made a really simple program, then released it for free. Some people started using it. But that wasn't the great idea.

What then happened is that a couple of those people found the contact form on my website, thanked me for my program, but also asked "Would you be kind enough and interested to write this [other program that automates a task I do often]." Those ideas are the ones that actually made money for me.

So make it really easy for people to contact you and talk about the problems they have. Give something away, to encourage those people to find you in the first place. And put contact forms everywhere, so even launching email or Twitter isn't an obstacle to contacting you.

I always got the best side project ideas when I was working on some other random side project.

Once you start to work on an even mediocre side project, just wait and after few days you get so many new ideas coming out of the mediocre project.

So, the message is, just start working on any idea.

I too solved a problem I faced at work - and privately - that I couldn't get anywhere else. It started with a couple of simple scripts for me, and evolved into a full-fledged SaaS solution [1].

The best things - perhaps the only things to really motivate you - are the ones that scratch your own itch. Otherwise, you'll get demotivated or loose interest. You need to build something for you and hope it appeals to others.

[1] A DNS monitoring & change alerter called DNS Spy; https://dnsspy.io/

So it's like- I kept looking for software projects leads in facebook groups for my software services company http://inteliheads.com and one day I wrote a script which does it automatically and other day I made it public with name http://keywordsonar.com It's around 2 months for this product and right now 197 users are using it.

I'm building a game wiki/guide platform right now[1]. The idea mainly came from just wanting to re-create a game's interface on the web[2] and it gradually grew to a game guide and now a multi-game guide platform. I tried to learn new tech on the way to keep myself interested. The large parts being LeafletJS/PixiJS, moving onto React, then Firebase, and so on.

A lot of my web project ideas are related to the video game community because I often use and contribute to them and constantly find certain things lacking (wikis, forums, list trackers, news). So this project has nicely grew into something that I can both learn from and enjoy building for the long term. Of course there are the tedious parts (like upgrades and maintenance) but they're overcome gradually; it is just a side project right now.

[1] https://frontiernav.jahed.io/

[2] https://frontiernav.jahed.io/explore/game0/visualisations/ma...

This sounds awesome. Excited to check it out!

Me and my wife were working on a way to take game wikis and make them mobile friendly for when we play games like Starbound / Stardew Valley. These types of projects are fun because you're feeling the pain of it while trying to have fun so it's a lot of motivation.

Honestly, it was a dumb pun that inspired me. I started working on Chat & Slash (https://www.chatandslash.com/) when the idea of "Slack & Slash" - an RPG on Slack - come to me during a boring meeting.

Obviously, folks at Slack preferred a less-potentially confusing name, but they liked the idea, so I'm still working on it.

My side projects ideas usually revolve around a problem or just plain curiosity. Some stick while others don't. Most of them, however, are tools that help with work stuff. My last side project that i still use almost every day since 2013 is pgweb - https://github.com/sosedoff/pgweb

My side projects tend to be libraries for other programmers. I usually get ideas by using existing libraries but being unhappy with the interface / api they offer. I love designing good apis that express the underlying concepts well, while hiding implementation details, and while many niche libraries have a good solution for their problem domain, many are lacking in api / UX.

Do you have any revenue coming from these projects? From what sources?

Just answered this in another thread. One of these did get me a whole bunch of income allowed me to travel, but it's not why I do it today.

Any income from that? Beer money or car money a year?:)

It's been really in three categories:

1. Projects that yield nothing financially. 2. Projects that help me establish me as a .. idk.. thoughtleader(?) in certain specific niche fields. 3. I've written 2 libraries in particular that netted me a number of consulting gigs. For about 2 years I was able to travel around the world supporting myself with this, and I worked for companies on location in 4 continents. This was a pretty great time of my life, but I got bored working on a single project.

So definitely more than beer money for that last one, but it might have been a fluke. Generally it's not my aim to do this for my side projects. I make enough money, so I do it because I enjoy it.

I built CTX - https://getctx.io - to help me find stuff in all my cloud services.

Years of leading agency and consultancy projects for other people and never being able to remember whether stuff was in a Trello card, a Slack message, a Drive file, an email etc meant I was scratching my own itch.

It's now in private beta with a couple of companies here in the UK and I'm planning for a wider launch in a month or so (here's hoping)

Be naturally and deeply engaged in a community.

This could be anything that you naturally find interesting - books, art, armadillos, roofing etc. Engage with other people that also find this topic interesting.

It'll take several months, but you'll uncover more problems than you'll have time for. And the best part - you now get to pick a problem you care about, and build a solution for it.

Let's have a little fun and pick apart the first topic you listed. Books. What exactly is there still to be done in the realm of books?

Publishing? There are big companies or now you can self-publish. There are many video tutorials, courses, and blogs all dedicated to self-publishing, so even the online education realm of things seems to be taken.

Writing books? Ok sure you can write a book just like you can produce a single piece of any kind of content, so that can't count. Software to assist in writing books? From my quick search, there's Scrivener, and a bunch of other platforms and apps.

Want to write a book without typing? Hmm, there's already a bunch of speech-to-text apps like Dragon.

Buying books? Amazon. Audio books? Audible.

Collecting books? Hmm ok, may be something in there. Site that lists the top 100 books from prior years? Or a top 10 per genre, per year (historical).

The reality is coming up with an idea is already hard. Coming up with a business is much harder. Would love an idea in this space.

A) the question asks specifically how to find a "side project" idea, not necessarily a full fledged business all though it could turn into one.

B) The whole point of being involved in a specific community (e.g. fantasy books written by Terry Brooks) is that issues will crop up naturally that you, as a dev, may be in a position to solve. Theorizing on problems in this thread is the exact opposite of my suggestion.

C) The topics were half in jest (see 'armadillos'), and were just meant to kickstart the OP's thinking process.

The process of coming up with an idea shouldn't have to happen in a vacuum. The point it to solve problems you encounter and help solve them.

You're totally right. Just frustrating -- Guess if I want to do something in that space, I need to get more involved in the community, like you said in "B".

One route is to pick a niche hobby/interest of yours and build off of that. Find pain points and then write up an level of effort estimate for a software solution.

Often there is little or no competition in these uber-small markets. Because you are your own customer, you might have a good idea of your monetization options.

Even if you fail monetarily, at least you solved your pain point.

Back when I was streaming games on Twitch I cared a lot about my followers count. When you only have 10 followers and all of a sudden someone unfollows it's kind of a big deal, especially if you're trying to grow your followership. I usually spent some time checking my followers list to find out _who_ unfollowed me.

To save me the hassle I developed Unfollow (https://www.unfollow.io). You sign up, connect your Twitch account and it starts tracking your unfollowers and notifies you.

I didn't develop this because I want to encourage people to care about their unfollowers. It's about curiousity. The curiosity about this person who's not following you anymore. I hope the tool can help people satisfy this curiosity.

Sounds cheesy, but I worked on something I actually enjoyed working with it, not thinking if it's a commercial success or anything that sort. I can't think of myself working out of working hours on something I do only for money.

People and their energy levels are different, I guess. I wish I had the willpower and stamina.

You don't need a "great idea". We built an incredibly crude v1 of Cronitor because my friend and co-founder needed to know if an important cron job failed. This meets no definition of "great idea" but has been a fun, challenging and profitable side business for over 3 years now.

I was working for a start up some years ago where we were sending a lot of transactional messages over email, sms and mobile push to our customers. There were lots of great solutions around that solved the infrastructure problem (i.e, the problem of sending and email, sms or mobile push) but nothing that helped us with the content part of the message, rather then having transactional email templates in Mailchimp or something.

So I built Postways [1]. In a nutshell, it's basically a message management system with a unified API for sending email, sms and mobile push were you have to bring your own AWS account or SMTP server.

[1] https://www.postways.com/

I code mostly in c++ on Linux and I don't like big IDEs. I wanted to have a plugin that would complete my code and show the errors. Oh, and it should work with CMake.

To be fair, there was a number of plugins out there that did it in various text editors, but I was too dumb to be able to use them. None worked out of the box. So I contributed a bit to one project that looked promising and then quickly branched off to create EasyClangComplete for Sublime Text. I've been working on it on weekends and nights for over a year now and it is an important tool in my workflow. Also, I feel inspired by approx. 9000 people who have installed it throughout the time it existed.

I have a project that I'm trying to turn into a product. I got it from spotting a new tech in use in a restaurant, and applied it to another market. Fingers crossed, I'll have investment coming in around Christmas.

"I scratched my own itch" seems to be the most common response. I wonder if there's a notable bias towards saying what HN will approve of, and towards not wanting to say something HN won't approve of.

Don't know if it's a "great" side project but I wanted a way to avoid hardcoding passwords in scripts, but in a way that I could revoke them if my RPi had been compromised (my RPi is used for backups/sync).

So I made https://www.remotepassword.com where you can store a GPG encrypted version of the password and then call-decrypt-passthrough the password to the command line. If the device is compromised, you can deactivate the online password and no-one can get access to your data.

I built Elyxel [https://www.elyxel.com] to learn Elixir and Phoenix while building open source community software. I wrote about it in greater detail here - [http://www.achariam.com/elyxel]

It hasn't really caught on but I hedged my bets a little by trying to optimize for learning. On that front it was highly rewarding.

I occasionally read HN comments, and once I see something people are touching upon in their comments that can either be automated or shown using an app, I post that idea and see the upvotes.

As an Ask HN, or some other way?

In general, just as a comment on a post that reaches top 30 on HN within the day, its pretty low-key, I don't advertise it, if the comment reaches >10 upvotes, its probably worth it

When I was going through Wikipedia I have discovered that there is so many different prime types - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prime_numbers#Lists_...

So I have decided to put all this info on single place - https://prime-numbers.info - but there is lot of them so I am at C now. :)

I'm iterating on a problem we had a work and for other side-projects.

We needed to forward webhooks to one, or multiple hosts; sometimes mutate them (split, …). Sometimes forward, sometimes no. So I created Hook+ [https://hook.plus]. Still not finished at all, needs some docs, etc…. But I plan to properly finish it by the end of the year. :)

The idea in itself already exists, it's not a revolutionnary tool at all.

I have a bad habit of buying video games that I will probably never get around to playing, and I used to keep a list of those games in a spreadsheet in the order I wanted to play them. I decided to build https://www.grouvee.com to keep track of that list instead of the spreadsheet. Apparently there are quite a few other people that have this same issue!

I never had to look for sideproject ideas. They are there all the time by the dozen. The time to start and finish them is usually what's missing.

"My problem is not tripping over them when I get out of bed in the morning." - Beethoven

Consequently, my current side project is a task and information management app, so I'll never not be able to capture any ideas I trip over it in the morning :) It has a wiki and systems for note taking, spaced repetition, a DSL and plugin system.

At this point, it's turned into the dwarf fortress of todo apps, pretty much :)

Solve your own problem. If you have no problems it means you don't experience enough about life. Travel more, invest in new experience and learn.

Write down those problems and apply a design thinking process, so you don't invest time in them if they aren't worth it. :)

Like many, I also took the advice of solving my own problem. I have a hard time remembering all the details of everyone I talk to. When I realized that the key to startup success is to develop relationships with folks and the way to do this is to actually remember them, I built Orchestra [http://orchestrahq.com].

I start digging one area of expertise, and more I dig into something, more ideas of products, services and problem solutions come to my head.

My first long term project (greatest yet) started in January this year. It's an extension to Notepad++ which makes into a lightweight IDE - sort of.

The reason it was created is because the only stable option for developing on this specific platform was to buy an IDE from IBM. My goal is to provide a free option to developers.

This project only started because I couldn't afford the IBM product.

I attended a meetup and was inspired to solve a problem I and many others experience with code. You can read about the details at https://medium.com/@CodeforFTL/the-story-of-oh-snap-civictec...

I couldn't find a workout app that I liked. The ones I tried just didn't fit the flow-of-use I wanted. I just wanted something to track my weight lifting, and wanted it to be super simple. So, scratched the itch with Riker.


I like the simplicity of your app, however I think it lacks some design. Looks like it's pulled straight from a bootstrap kinda thingy, without putting your own 'Riker' sauce over it.

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah - it's definitely a bootstrap design. The website is functional, but it's the mobile app that is best to use (has Apple Watch integration and offline mode).

If you don't mind sharing how have you been getting users and can you share the experience monetizing it?

Because I'm still working on the Android / Android Wear version, I haven't done a ton of marketing yet. I did have business cards printed up with the URL, logo and some screenshots, and have been handing them out to random people :) For monetization, I offer a subscription that costs $11.49/year; with that you get an account enabling your data to be stored on my servers and thus accessible to all your devices, including the web. Without an account, the app itself is free (with all features included), but the data is only available on your device (unless you manually export/import to other devices, which you can using the app).

Thanks, looks cool and makes sense!

Android planned anytime soon?

Yes - that's what I'm currently working on.

Back in 2014, I had a number of side projects on the go and I ran out of money to pay my email marketing bill. I created https://emailoctopus.com to save some money, and that's ended up being my most successful side project to date!

I can't say I have any great ideas, but they sure keep popping into my head involuntarily. It feels weird to me for people surf the web without frustration, never thinking to themselves, "what if this, but without the annoying/hard to use stuff?" If you do do that, then those are ideas.

I was working at a startup which had potential but had a very boring implementation of the vision (in my opinion).

After several pivots of the original idea in my head I came up with my side project which is thrice removed from the original idea.

I began Todoodly (http://www.mytodoodly.com) as a side project after facing frustrations using Trello.

I am trying to improve my deployment skills so I just pick something dumb, currently an emoji only messaging app build it then run the deployment experiments I want to try. Always fun.

I started an online clothing company. After sometime, I thought it would be cool to let users try cloths online so this product was born - sensestyles.com/tryroom

From games that I wanted to play but were not available

back in 93 i would cold call tech companies and get to speak with engineers. my goal was to get them to talk my ear off. oddly enough it usually worked. funny enough I didn't know enough tech at the time to understand 3/4 of what they spoke of. but if you are a problem solver with skills, you can certainly start by asking.

theres an app for that. https://nugget.one

I used to hand fill a form to save me couple hundred bucks. I automated it.


No. Just one weird tip.

No :)

I keep a spreadsheet of ideas i get from podcasts and reading books.

gather 10 ideas a week -> get feedback -> wait/think -> get feedback -> build only the ideas that are revenue probable + have customer demand.

From features I really wanted that no one was offering.

Existing product sucks, no good alternatives.

I was a moody teenager (maybe 16 years old) who had just been forced to move from her home in the US to Australia. We moved in summer and had nothing to do for a few months except explore Fremantle, and all of our luggage had not been transferred yet - we were staying for the summer in a company-provided apartment and my parents decided there was no point in getting everything shipped to this temp apartment. I was mad at my parents for making me move, bored, missed the horse farm I worked at in Alabama. Usually I'd always be tinkering on the PC making weird web projects and playing games, but now I had no computer. Basically I had a lot of time to think about random crap. Thinking back on it now it was my favorite time to be in Australia. Fremantle is a gorgeous, quirky city and I had all the time in the world to walk around the cool little hipster artsy stores and the "psychic" shops selling crystals and stuff. My imagination ran wild!

Anyway, during this time I thought a lot about all the places we'd lived and was feeling a bit nostalgic both for Alabama and my original home in Ukraine. I thought back on my favorite childhood memories, which were all at my grandparents' summerhouse in Kherson. One day when I was maybe six or seven years old it was raining really hard and a bunch of snails were crawling around everywhere. I captured some and had them race on the pavement. I "trained" them to crawl in a straight line (I swear this actually happened - or at least that is how I remember it). When I was done I put them all in my orange fishing bucket with leaves, water, and berries and put them aside figuring they'd be gone by the evening. When I came back in the evening they _were_ gone, but I spotted them all around the bucket (crawling away). The next morning, though, they were all back! This went on for a few days - the snails would leave around the evening and be back in the bucket by the next day. I thought it was really cool!

A few days later we had planned to go fishing the next morning with my grandfather so I knew I'd need my orange bucket back. That night before going to bed I put all the snails out into our garden patch and cleaned out the bucket to be ready by morning. But in the morning, the snails were back again. So I couldn't go fishing. This went on for another couple of days and each time I got more and more annoyed at the snails coming back. Even though I tried to "hide" the bucket from the snails by moving it around, they would always find it. One time I put the snails out into the patch again in the morning and went to get ready for fishing thinking they wouldn't be able to crawl back that fast, but when I got back most of them were just back again. I'm not sure why my kid-mind at the time didn't just put the snails away again right before leaving and take bucket, but I didn't.

Finally one morning after a few days of this I was angry. I was really excited about going to fish and there were a bunch of snails in my bucket again. I grabbed the bucket and started throwing the snails out one by one into the patch. I was so annoyed and didn't care about taking them out of their home anymore. The snails landed out of sight and in my mind I wasn't hurting them, since I was throwing them where they'd land on vegetation or soft earth. Except I misjudged a throw and accidentally threw one of the snails right in front of me - it hit a rock or branch or something and its shell cracked in a really bad way. I could see the body spilling out of the shell, and it was still alive and moving but I knew it was dying. That's when I realized I'd been hurting them, and now I'd killed at least this one. I was horrified, started crying - the thought of putting the snail out of its misery didn't even cross my mind. I felt awful and decided the snails could have my bucket and live there for as long as they want, so I tried to find some of the other snails I'd thrown away but it was too late - I couldn't find them anywhere. I ended up leaving to go fishing with the bucket.

As a kid I got over and forgot the incident by probably the next day, but in Fremantle when I thought about it again I just felt guilty again. And then I remembered how cool it was that the snails would crawl in a straight line when I raced them, and how it was even cooler that they kept coming back "home" even though I wasn't trapping them in the bucket! So I got the idea for a snail racing website where people could find virtual snails, take care of them, race them against each other, and breed them. My favorite games to play at the time were PHP browser games, so I envisioned it being written in PHP.

I had a few false starts over the years; when I first had the idea I only knew a bit of HTML and CSS and had no skills to build this thing. I didn't seriously start working on it until later, but that is my side project - a snail and snail management simulation - and I have a feeling I won't move on to anything else for a very long time.

Follow the money!

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