Kevin Legere

Cover Image for Random thoughts the week before launch

Random thoughts the week before launch

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

There are so many topics I want to write about, but I have to be deliberate with my time right now. So instead of a well written article, you get some random thoughts one week before 🚀. Hope you enjoy 😃

Well, the time has come! We are launching next week and I am equal parts excited, exhausted and scared. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the road we’ve taken. No outside funding, just a lot of hard work and late nights. My family has probably been the MVP, giving me room and space to immerse myself in the work. The funny thing is, this is the easy part. The honeymoon phase. The real challenge is ahead and I can’t wait.

Solving the supply problem

The biggest challenge for marketplace apps to solve first is supply.

No one is going to buy anything without quality supply, and who is going to want to put in the effort to start selling without customers to buy?

This was our first big (non-technical) challenge to solve. So we attacked the problem from three angles:

  1. We formed a partnership with a local store. We help them move product online, they help us with supply. It’s a win-win and we get to work with a local store. I 🧡 it.
  2. We recruited other collectors who have experience selling online. We have about 20 or so collectors who are helping us fill out the supply. We give them discounted rates, they help us juice the marketplace. Another win-win.
  3. I bought a ton of supply myself and I’m going to list my personal collection. I don’t like to solely rely on other people, so I took matters into my own hands to make sure that we have some quality listings that I can manage myself.

It’ll be interesting to see the results of this effort, but I feel about our supply for launch. Now I have to focus on creating demand for our supply. (a good topic for a future post!)

We had to do things that won’t scale

You can probably already imagine that we can’t continue to grow our supply this way. We will need to convert buyers into sellers and grow our user base organically. But in order to get the snowball rolling down the mountain we had to do some things that won’t scale.

Coming from a larger tech company, this was hard for my brain to rationalize. I was always looking to implement things that scale. We’d actually STOP doing things that ‘don’t scale’. You have to when you are at a 500+ person company. But we're not that.

I had read many success stories of other tech companies that had to do some crazy things early on to help them grow. AirBnB hired professional photographers to take photos for their user's listings. They probably lost a bunch of money on that early on! I’m so fortunate that was in the back of my mind, because it helped me go against my instincts. Now I'm focused on doing things that will move the needle in a positive direction. That is all that matters. We will figure out how to scale later. (ask me in 6 months whether I regret saying that 🤣)

We've stayed focused

Being a two person team, we’ve had to pick our battles. Some features we really wanted to launch with will have to wait. We prioritized production over perfection. We want to start growing our user base and align our roadmap with their needs. We can’t do that without getting the product to market.

The same is true on social media. I haven’t had time to put a lot of effort into marketing and social media. But, we found early success and a strong following on Instagram. So I decided to go all-in on growing that community. I post every single day and try and interact with fellow hobbyists and collectors through comments and chat. I’ve even streamed on IG live a few times and ran a contest when we reached 500 followers.

It’s been eye opening for me how much of the hobby is on Instagram. People showing off their collection, running ‘razzes’ and even initiating sales and trades. We will probably have over 1,000 followers when we launch and I’m excited to about the potential of connecting with our users on that platform.

Am I a product leader or junior front end developer?

The answer is both. (plus many other roles)

3 months ago I didn’t know how to code. I had learned a bit of HTML and CSS 15 years ago, but that’s about it. Well guess what. That has all changed and it’s liberating. I brushed up on HTML/CSS and even took some Javascript classes. Now I can proudly say that I’ve styled our entire front end myself. This allowed us to get to market much faster, without having to bring on another developer or hiring a contractor.

It also allows me to go in and prototype ideas without distracting Ivan from solving the hard technical problems. As a Product leader at heart, this has been liberating for me. No longer do I have to wait on someone else to try out a new idea or fix something. If I find something that is broken, I can go fix it myself. No meetings required. I just open a pull request and wait for Ivan to merge it (assuming he doesn’t tell me there is a better way lol)

Tech that helped us launch

There is so much technology that we’ve used (mostly on freemium plans) to get going. We’ve started to convert to the paid plans for a lot of them, but I wanted to acknowledge how much they helped us get off the ground. What we have accomplished would not have been possible without all the tech we rely on in our workflow.

Big thanks to Basecamp, Hey, Miro, Figma, GitHub, Vercel, AWS, WIX Answers, Nextjs, Tailwind, Mailchimp and more. We would not have been able to launch so quickly without the help of your products and services 🙇. Not to mention the countless open source libraries that power many of our features. I hope we can someday return the favour.

👋 Bye for now