No-B.S. resources to help you take action & start shipping 🚢
A living swipe file for indie hackers, indie lurkers, & founders who get stuck with indecision, perfectionism, or impostor syndrome. Examples and resources to help you put one foot in front of the other and get your experiments out the door 🚪.
This is not a roadmap through the jungle 🗺️. I have not built a successful startup, so I won’t pretend I know the path to get there.
Think of this as a compass 🧭. I can’t tell you what destination is correct, but I can give you resources to push past the common sticking points for aspiring founders.
Now quit adding a dark theme 🌒 and get shipping!
- No-B.S. resources to help you take action & start shipping 🚢
- 🔑 Validation
- Critical Questions
- 🪨🛠️ Build simpler than you think
- 🥷Fake it ‘till you build it
- 🧑💼You don’t need a big team
- ❓You don’t need the perfect name
- 👥 Brands that entered crowded markets and still did well
- 📖 Open-source companies based on existing tools
- 💡 Ideas
- 🌀 Remix existing ideas
- 💡Your idea doesn’t have to be complicated
- 🤔 I have no ideas
- 🫂🐦People to follow on Twitter
- Terms and Trends
- Reminder to keep you grounded
Why are you building without any real validation?
🛑 STOP 🛑
if you don’t have any real indicators of people spending their $$ or significant time on the problem, STOP. Reevaluate.
These are the questions I wish I would have been asked before wasting hour after hour on projects which never launched ❌🚀 or were a Solution Looking for a Problem. Use them to cut the crap and see your project from an observer’s perspective.
🪨🛠️ Build simpler than you think
⭐ If it’s useful people will use it even if it looks funky or is missing features. ⭐
You don’t need it to be as pretty or as feature-filled as the perfect version in your head. Make small bets and just put it out into the world.
”If you build an MVP you can skip most parts like design, backend, db etc You mostly need a very very basic page that does something rly well and charges $ for it so you can see if the idea is viable You don't have time to focus on other stuff, if you do you spread yourself thin Also it doesn't even need to be a page. It can be a Typeform. Or a Stripe Payment Link. Or a tweet and then people DM you to get the service or product. Validating is getting a customer to pay for it. Then you can build out after WITH the customers figuring out what they WANT” - Pieter Levels
- Nomad List started as a Google sheet.
- Remote OK is a single 8,000+ line
index.phpfile making > $100k/month.
- Product Hunt began as a simple list that got emailed out to people.
- Levels.fyi was a Google sheet until 2021.
- Headlime started as a JSON file in the frontend with no DB - sold for $60k a week later.
- Before that, it was an eBook with formulas for generating headlines selling on Gumroad.
- Follows the
validation -> content product -> saas.
- Crave Cookies was making $200k a month on a SQlite DB, which started as a JSON file.
- Starter Story began with just 3 articles on it.
- Plenty of Fish in the early days was getting 1 billion page views on 5 servers.
- “I was running www.Photopea.com with 10M page views a month for $40 a year. Now, I upgraded to $60 a month. I never used any CDN.” HN Comment
- List of how popular startups (AirBnb, etc.) got their first users - many in scrappy ways.
- Key Values started as a static website on Heroku.
Everything is on one server in production, and there’s SQLite database, meaning it’s not a separate database. It’s not a separate server. It’s a file in that same database. When I started it, I was writing to a JSON file, the whole database. That was it. I was reading and writing from that file. As we started to get too many orders, it was too slow to read and write, so I moved it to SQLite, and I've never changed it.
Instead of staying quiet and waiting until I had 10 interviews, I decided to just launch with 3 interviews.
🥷Fake it ‘till you build it
Can apply to the core of your product, or to supporting features. Do you really need an automated account deletion flow on day 1? Just manually edit the database. See if Product Validation Playbooks has something you could try.
- Dropbox & Buffer used the Fake Door MVP to see if the idea was worth exploring.
- Tuple had $8k in revenue before even having a product.
- Have seen numerous mentions where companies finally added features multiple years in and it didn’t kill them to wait that long to add.
- “After 2 years of indie hacking, it's time to add an editable account details page. Only 3-4 ppl/m needed it for @MagicPattern & @BrandBirdApp and I edited them manually.”
🧑💼You don’t need a big team
- Trends #0027 — Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses
- AJ from Carrd - millions of websites built on simple site builder
- Wapplyzer - Chrome extension for website data, run by tiny team
- Microfounders - https://microfounder.com/
- Indie Hackers product list with 1-9 founders
- Supporting your journey Indie Hackers Community
❓You don’t need the perfect name
You can always change it later - don’t let it take up more than a couple hours. Switching won’t necessarily kill your momentum.
justin.tv became Twitch later on.
Competition isn’t bad. Do not rule out ideas that there are already solutions for.
Water bottles and notebooks have thousands of competitors, yet people make them every day. In other industries, we don't have this idea that you have to be the only water bottle. We don't have this idea that, someone's already invented the water bottle, there can't be another one, but in software, we very often have this idea, of well, there's already a social media software. - paraphrased from Laura Roeder
👥 Brands that entered crowded markets and still did well
- Hydroflask - literally just fancy water bottles.
- Notion - lots of tools already out there for note taking or docs.
- Bubly - how many types of sparkling water can exist?
- Convertkit - went up against Mailchimp and others.
- Typedream, Simple.ink, Super.so - there are a bajillion no code website builders, they made it easier to manage for without code rather than creating an interface that is visual coding.
📖 Open-source companies based on existing tools
You can also just build an open-source version of your favorite famous tool. Not everyone’s cup of tea.
- Ghost blogging platform - alternative to WordPress, Square, Wix, etc.
- WordPress - alternative to Square, Wix, etc.
- Supabase - alternative to Firebase.
- Papercups.io -alternative to Intercom.
- Bitwarden - alternative to Lastpass, 1Password, etc.
- Plausible, Fathom - alternative to Google Analytics.
- Cal.com - alternative to Calendly.
- Httpie - alternative to Postman.
- Medusa - alternative to Shopify.
- NextDNS -
The best things often aren’t original, but either a remix of what’s come before, a better version than currently exists, or serving some niche the competition hasn’t touched. Screw it, you can build the same thing if you really want, you don’t need anyone’s permission!
🌀 Remix existing ideas
Does an existing idea not cover a specific niche? Especially good if they are unlikely to bother moving into it. Example from a book is ‘Coke for Dogs’, Coke is unlikely to enter that market because it might hurt their brand among humans.
- Buy Me a Coffee → Buy Me a Crypto Coffee
💡Your idea doesn’t have to be complicated
Successful companies with a simple concept at core, even if it’s layered with extra features at this point.
- Framed Tweets , Laser Tweets - exactly like it says.
- Linktree - static web page with a few links on it.
- Bitly - HTTP 301 redirects at scale.
- TickTick, Todoist, etc. - TODO list.
- Postman, Httpie - Fancy frontend for
- Peloton - put an Ipad on a stationary bike.
- Carrd - 1 page site builder.
- TweetDeleter - Save reputations with an API call.
🤔 I have no ideas
🫂🐦People to follow on Twitter
These people usually provide no-BS advice and inspiration to build and ship.
- Pieter Levels - Nomad List, Remote OK, and more
- Jon Yongfook - Bannerbear
- Lynne Tye - Key Values
- Justin Jackson - Transistor.fm
- Andrew Gazdecki - MicroAcquire
Things I’ve found useful, but haven’t found a home yet on this site, YMMV.
A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process: Building Product, Experimentation, MVP | Y Combinator
"You know that old saw about a plane flying from California to Hawaii being off course 99% of the time-but constantly correcting? The same is true of successful startups-except they may start out heading toward Alaska." -- Evan Williams It's the same story again and again. First, a team comes up with an idea.
- Success Through Actionable Feedback - Roast or Toast
- Product Validation Playbooks
- Marketing Examples - Harry Dry
- How I’d Grow X Case Studies - Andrea Bosoni
- Building a startup in public: from first line of code to frontpage of Reddit
- Go Fucking Do it
- Zero to Users
- Pieter Level’s MAKE book
Terms and Trends
- Build in Public -
Reminder to keep you grounded
Indie Lurker Compass
A living swipe file for indie hackers, indie lurkers, & founders with the examples needed to start simple and start shipping🚢.