I live in Ahmedabad, India and like binge watching TV, rapping (i’m bad!), playing basketball, table tennis, and of course, making side projects!
I try doing new things I’ve had zero experience with very often — it makes me break and then rebuild a better me.
Libert was my first project! I was really into reading ebooks at the time, and found out about libgen — it was amazing to get ebooks, but looked super ugly. I wanted to make it easier to get free ebooks — and that’s what Libert does. It started out as a CLI script which searched libgen and downloaded a book from a query, but soon evolved into a well built interface to look up and download books!
Polltime is my biggest project, both in terms of time put in, and the users I have. It started out when I was trying to do a poll in a WhatsApp group, and all options were so bloated, and didn’t solve their core purpose — to collect opinions. I built polltime over a term of 3 months, continuously testing every new feature, and purging those which weren’t too useful. I tried to monetize the service and after failing too many times, launched it and maintained a constant user base of around 10k users a week!
Wrish was a project that started out as an autosaving notepad just to test a new database — But people ❤️ the minimal interface, so they made me launch it 🚀 — and it went pretty well, with 10k+ notes made. Wrish was super useful when I built bot.wrish.xyz - WhatsApp and Telgram bots which let you take notes and then make a nice webpage from them.
Spoofr was a super fun project which started because I wanted to fake doing work in an environment where people were consistently looking at my screen (Teachers in School!) — it lets you put in an article or wikipedia url, and then your random keyboard smashing is converted to actual information ⌨️
colorSpace was a project I made just a few weeks ago, in attempt to build a better background removal tool by measuring the actual three dimensional distance between colors - something possible with just the Pythagoras’ theorem I learnt in school a few years back. So I read up some color theory, coded a few hours and launched with this tweetstorm, which gained a little attention!
wordLess is a project I launched the very day I did this interview! It lets you listen to instrumental versions of your spotify playlists, by searching for the top tracks on youtube! It’s super helpful when trying to focus a bit — and it’s fun to pull up a nice hip hop playlist and rap to it!
I make side projects all the time, and made a side project studio called 4ty2 — where I put things that I made in a few hours, or are still working on! Another reason for making it was that subdomains are free, while domains for my projects used to cost me like $10 every week. 😝
I started making my fist project (Libert!) because I was tired of being a lurker on communities with student makers — these were teens just like me who were getting on top of hackernews a few times every month, earning recurring revenue and enjoying building projects! I started building out of the spite that came from being part of these communities (Hackclub and Feathrd) - but soon discovered the joy in making things that people thought were useful, or even just fun ✨
Building things and shipping quick gave me instant gratification which pretty much got me addicted to building things. 🛠️
My first users came from comunities of makers, who gave me feedback. Eventually, I started shipping projects on HackerNews and ProductHunt — where I have been on the front page a few times 😉 - These launches gave my products a temporary boost in their userbase, but that didn’t sustain unless people actually found true value there.
But, the thing is, I didn’t get many true users of my products from these launches because it was makers who hung out on HN and PH - not consumers. The moment I targeted places where users actually lived — my products (Polltime!) received a consistent, true userbase. (10k/week for me)!
This Quora answer I wrote was the primary source of these users - my product got the opportunity to solve a problem here.
I always want to be free to pursue whatever I feel like in life, and don’t want to be restricted. If I find something cool to do, I want to be fluid enough to quit what I’m currently doing and follow it. Always want to be growing both who I am, and what I do.
In ten years, I’d like to learn a ton of things, and make products which solve problems, and are fun too! I don’t want to particularly follow the path of going to university and then getting a job - but I’m totally open to it if it lets me learn and enjoy something I’d be interested in.
It’s really difficult for me to commit loads of time on building a project, because I’m afraid of it failing, and all my effort being in vain. I overcame this fear by spending less time actually developing the product, and more time thinking about it subconsciously while doing other things. I’m developing the idea continuously, and then if I find it worth developing, I’ll have the confidence and speed which let me pursue the project.
It’s okay to not finish projects, but make sure you’re not giving up just because it’s tough. If it is too difficult, don’t follow the conventional way people solve that problem — hack your way to a solution — it doesn’t have to be perfect, it should just work! For example, my database used to be a text file in which I used to write and read
json strings. Not how people typically use a database, but, well — it worked!
Don’t follow too much time with tutorials, just keep making things 👨💻
I started learning to code by following video tutorials, but when I actually wanted to build something — nothing I learnt had helped. Advice Zach Latta gave me was most useful — think of a project you want to build, and google your way through everything you don’t understand. Copy code if you have to, you’ll eventually get good enough to write it all on your own!
Googling something to solve an immediate problem is a much better way of learning than preparing to solve problems you don’t even know exist via coding courses. I write more about that and share resources here.
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