Handmade Network»Fishbowls»Entrepreneurship and the Handmade ethos

Entrepreneurship and the Handmade ethos

What does it look like to turn a Handmade project into a sustainable business? How can the Handmade ethos set our software apart from its competitors? And how might we sustain the development of important software, if we're not sure how to sell it?

This is a fishbowl: a panel conversation held on the Handmade Network Discord where a select few participants discuss a topic with depth and nuance. We host them every two months, so if you want to catch the next one, join the Discord!
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bvisness
Topic: Entrepreneurship and the Handmade ethos
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:09 AM
Hello everyone! Welcome to another fishbowl. I'm excited about this one. Let me start by introducing our guests.
10:10
We have:
10:10
- Abner Coimbre (@Abner Coimbre), host of Handmade Seattle
chocovine 7
anber 7
10:11
- Allen Webster (@Allen4th), creator of 4coder and member of the Dion Systems team
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10:11
- Andrew Reece (@Andrew (azmr)), creator of WhiteBox
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10:12
- Demetri Spanos (@demetrispanos), Y Combinator alumnus and general fount of wisdom
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demetri 9
10:13
- Nick Seavert (@Nick Seavert - JangaFX) and Morten Vassvik (@mv), founders of JangaFX, creators of EmberGen
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flamedonut 9
10:13
- Phillip Trudeau (@philliptrudeau), co-creator of the game Sir Happenlance and the Spear of Density
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10:14
- Zeanith (@Zeanith) (I don't know your real name sorry!), the community member who suggested this topic! (edited)
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 10:14 AM
In by default bois
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:15 AM
All these guests are here because of their experience with software entrepreneurship in some form. Handmade Seattle is now an independent business, WhiteBox has received multiple grants and employs several community members, 4coder is of course a well-loved editor in the community and so on.
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10:17
Rather than having me try to list all of this though, I'd rather hear from the guests themselves. So let's have everyone describe their background in the business of software, starting with @Nick Seavert - JangaFX and @mv of JangaFX!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:19 AM
So my name is Nick Seavert as mentioned, I founded JangaFX in 2016 and since then we've generated millions of dollars in sales. We have 16 employees, we use Odin-lang exclusively (a fantastic handmade project), our software for visual effects is used in almost every major game studio, and we have numerous other products in the works. For myself, I live in Austin, TX, USA. I enjoy racing (gokarts/formula 4), gaming, volunteering, entrepreneurship, and general arts. Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickseavert I manage everything business, and know a lot about how to sell software, direct products, find needs in the market, and more* (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:19 AM
Mine will be longer
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 10:20 AM
(We're all typing out our blurbs ๐Ÿ™‚) (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:22 AM
My background is in computational physics, but the programming bit is almost entirely self-taught. I went through most of the motions of a PhD in computational fluid dynamics, but ended up being more interested in computer graphics and modelling in general rather than the more formal "research" part of academic physics, which includes writing papers and being part of the general academic meat grinder. I did not end up finishing the PhD degree, and instead ended up going all in on JangaFX with Nick here by the time the contract ran out. Never looked back since. I used to be quite active in the Handmade community, especially prior to going all in on JangaFX, but as time went by I've had less time to spend on it, and I've slowly drifted away from being directly active in the community, but I still occasionally keep in touch with old contacts. I've been a big champion of Odin since (close to) its inception, creating and maintaining the fairly popular odin-glfw and odin-gl libraries (which in essence are now part of the Vendor collection and are no longer maintained by me). As a consequence I've also made the (arguably risky) bet of using Odin for our main tool EmberGen. It's a bit of a meme that most tech companies start with two main founders, one more business oriented and one more tech oriented, and ours isn't that different. I'm sure we'll chat a little bit about this topic eventually, and maybe it's a good starting point for a discussion, namely what makes a good composition of skills, experience and interests for starting a business, especially a "home-grown" one that doesn't necessarily follow more traditional guidelines and expectations.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:26 AM
my background: I've been working as an independent consultant, or as part of a founding team, for the last 17 years (overlapping with the final years of my PhD). I've also worked for a couple of years as a professor doing research, which has some conceptual overlap with entrepreneurship (even if the incentive structures are very different). I've been advisor / angel investor in about 15 garage-level startups, including four valued over \$100M and one valued over \$1B, so I have seen the entire arc from nothing to great success a few times over (even if, unfortunately, the "great" part was not in my own companies :) Perhaps needless to say, I've also seen 11/15 not achieve those levels of success :) From a technical perspective, I'm a computational mathematician/scientist. Most of my work has been somewhere around AI/ML/Optimization/Robots/Quant-Finance. (edited)
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:31 AM
hey everyone, my history of entrepreneurship has all been fairly low-key: - I started a leatherwork business alongside another job in my gap year, which involved a little bit of product design for a smart watch-strap startup - I worked for a fairly early-stage Ergonomics/Human Factors consultancy after getting my Ergonomics degree - After that I did some gymnastics and school event photography I've been working on WhiteBox since then! If you're not familiar, it's a tool for showing you how your code behaves as you write it - a live debugger. The company side of this has included: - prototyping & questioning around the problem with people at Handmade Seattle 2019 - setting up a UK Ltd company (equivalent to a US corporation) as a solo founder - a few local council-run "startup/business courses" - a year in a local tech incubator "BetaDen", which included a moderate grant and some mentorship - a small "Young Innovators" grant from Innovate UK, alongside some more mentorship - demos for Handmade Seattle - presenting WhiteBox to C students at Imperial College London and making it available in their labs - contracting programmers from HMN and starting to learn how to "manage" programmers (as well as just work in a team on a software project, which was new to me) (edited)
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:33 AM
I started a leatherwork business
ok this I had no idea about lol
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 10:41 AM
My journey of entrepreneurship with 4coder was mostly accidental. Not that I didn't want to do an independent business - I did - but I never thought hard about how to do that. 4coder was a project that came out of my interests as a programmer, and it found enough of an audience that it sort of became a side business. I was also at a point in life where extra income was very helpful (I was attending college and paying rent) so I had some incentive to actually convert my little side project into a business. I'll throw in a topic segue here too. As someone who has "experienced" running a business, but doesn't feel particularly skilled at that side of things, I see this as a great opportunity to learn from ya'll more successful entrepreneurs. So my first quest is, what even is entrepreneurship? Second question, what route do you take to get good at it? Is this something you can practice? (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 10:47 AM
Hi everyone, hope this isn't too long-winded! I was a systems programmer throughout my 20s. First, a lucky break at Kennedy Space Center ๐Ÿš€ That experience shaped the rest of my career (you can read my essay about their philosophy: https://observer.com/2017/07/a-look-into-nasa-coding-philosophy-kennedy-space-center-programming/) You'll see I mention Handmade as the only movement "out there" that had a similar philosophy. I wanted to make Handmade stronger, so Casey let me organize the Handmade community. With the help of an amazing dev team we founded Handmade Network. I met Jonathan Blow and I worked under him for ~3 years on the Jai compiler, a bit of Sokoban, and the Braid HD Remake. Here's an old interview where Jon and I talk sometime before he hired me: https://handmadedev.show/ep-10-2016/ After Jon I did a stint for Cyan Worlds on Myst VR (the game shipped last year.) They gave me a proper sendoff here: https://cyan.com/2022/04/13/some-sad-happy-news-to-share/ Finally you may remember Casey ran Handmade Con for a couple of years but then stopped. People asked me to take over and Casey gave me the greenlight handmadeThumbsUp I very quickly realized I'm just as much into human interactions as I am into computers, so I started running Handmade conferences full-time. Here's the 2022 announcement post: https://media.handmade-seattle.com/self-hosted-conference/
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 10:54 AM
So basically I've recently started my 30s and this is what I do: run fully independent conferences that hopefully grow each year to celebrate Handmade values. (I mention age so people realize it may take time to truly understand what you want take risks on.)
10:54
When I am not busy with the conference, I'm building a terminal emulator called Terminal Click. Each month we host Handmade meetups in Seattle where I demo the terminal. I will also give a terminal talk at my own conference this year (self-promotion at its peak... this was my plan ALL ALONG.)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 10:50 AM
Honoured to be here! I'll try to be brief: I collaborated with Miles ( @notnullnotvoid , https://twitter.com/notnullnotvoid ) to program & produce an indie game on Steam. It released in October 2021 with positive reviews and it turned a profit. I'm proud of that, since many debut titles don't get there. These days I'm at WhiteBox with @Andrew (azmr) , helping with features and bugfixes. I'm only representing my own personal opinion, not that of anyone on the Happenlance or WB teams! Most indie game devs who finish a game become disappointed with their work's performance, but I feel they don't take their product seriously. As an indie game dev, you must acknowledge you are an entrepreneur running a small business and take on that role explicitly. In the business-guy-technical-guy dichotomy, I guess I leaned more towards business-guy, although I wrote roughly half the game code. Prior to this game, I was a high school student trying to ship games, then a uni student trying to ship games, then just a guy trying to ship games. (edited)
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:20 AM
I'm definitely excited to learn more about the founding of JangaFX. Every time I visit the EmberGen page, it seems like there are 10 new major game studios listed...
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:23 AM
So how did you two get in touch? Did you know each other prior to founding JangaFX?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:24 AM
I randomly messaged Morten when I saw him post in a programming server ๐Ÿ˜„
10:24
He was very skeptical of course ๐Ÿ˜‰
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:25 AM
you know those DMs you get where random people ask you to make something for them, and they offer to pay you $100
10:25
almost like that
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:25 AM
Except I was serious and had a plan to back it up
10:25
And I offered $200
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:27 AM
Nick had the vision for the company for the longest time, long before I entered into the picture. What we do now is essentially making the tools he wish he had available as he worked as a professional VFX artist
10:31
So while Nick primarily deals with the business aspect of what we do he still channels the archetypical user of our tools. This quality and motivation can be a significant benefit when starting a company, so you always stay grounded and have a decent idea of what to do and what's needed.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:34 AM
I had inklings of the idea for EmberGen around 2007 when valve released their particle editor for half life 2 episode 2. I was hooked on visual effects for my own mods back then but had no way to make the assets I needed other than using valves existing texture library. The other tools were far too expensive for me at that point. In 2012, that's when I started to seriously consider making a new tool and of course, it wasn't until 2016 that I started the journey to actually making it a reality. From 2014-2016 I had experience in other startups to gain the knowledge I needed to do my own company. Those other startups failed which told me what not to do. Originally I'd planned to call EmberGen "ExploGen" but that was taken ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
And I offered $200
mv Oct 01, 2022 10:34 AM
just checked, it was actually $300 (edited)
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mv
just checked, it was actually $300 (edited)
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:35 AM
Thankfully we're all very well compensated at this point (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:35 AM
Originally I'd planned to call EmberGen "ExploGen" but that was taken ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
You always had a thing for names
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:35 AM
For reference, what was the user experience of EmberGen's competitors like at the time? (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:36 AM
was?
10:36
hahaha
10:36
I'm sure Nick has the meme ready
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bvisness
For reference, what was the user experience of EmberGen's competitors like at the time? (edited)
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:36 AM
Blue screen of death, full hard drives, computer unusable for 12-24 hours
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mv
was?
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:36 AM
well that was my next question ๐Ÿ˜›
10:36
yikes
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:36 AM
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:37 AM
so, from simulations taking 12-24 hours, to simulations happening in real time
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:37 AM
not to mention, if it didn't crash and ruin your sim, there was a 95% chance you wouldn't like the result anyway.
10:37
So you have to do it over and over and over again
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:37 AM
EmberGen wasn't initially included ,Nick added it at some point and it stick xD
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
So you have to do it over and over and over again
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:38 AM
when you're making "design tools" (in the broadest sense), immediate feedback that lets you iterate on ideas quickly is so useful (edited)
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gerard (audience) Oct 01, 2022 10:46 AM
Making tools that shorten the feedback loop of the creator are always a good start point from where to grow a revolution, applies to EmberGen and WhiteBox https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGDrIy1G1gU
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:54 AM
this video (among others of Bret Victor) was definitely part of the milieu that inspired WhiteBox (edited)
smart 2
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:38 AM
10-20 hours for simulation, 10-20 hours for rendering, all for a 3-5 second clip. In a way you can say rapid iteration is one of our main goals as well as ease of use. That our tool is actually "fast" is sort of only incidental
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 10:39 AM
it's a very stark difference from the state of the art, apparently
10:40
what gave you the confidence that you could achieve such rapid iteration?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:40 AM
Naievity
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:40 AM
a very important attribute for founders!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Naievity
mv Oct 01, 2022 10:41 AM
Me: This sounds a bit hard to do Nick: No you're wrong. It's definitly possible that's just about how the conversation went (edited)
10:41
I was wrong, Nick was right
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mv
I was wrong, Nick was right
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:42 AM
I need to screenshot this
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:40 AM
The large VFX shops can afford simply throwing money at compute power, and can brute force iterate by doing a ton of redundant work (called wedging), and 90% or more of the work is eventually thrown away. It's been very hard for anyone small to do anything efficiently, even after getting past the UX/UI hurdle
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:41 AM
At GDC in 2019 I was told that I was wasting my time and that it wasn't possible, but I had a hunch that it was. We were actually the first tool to ever put the sim and render passes together
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:42 AM
We did actually launch our first paid early-access alpha version just days before Handmade Seattle 2019 that same year, and it's been rolling every since
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:43 AM
Which we ended up doing this because our bank account was going to be negative and launched what we had on a whim
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:43 AM
Insignificant detail
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:43 AM
We had built hype for many months prior thankfully and had an email list to send the announcement to ๐Ÿ˜„
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:43 AM
what even is entrepreneurship
I think the basics of this are "solving problems for people in a way they're willing to pay for"
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:45 AM
+1 - Providing value to people
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:45 AM
"solving (real and useful) problems for people in a way they're willing to pay for (and will actually benefit from)" there's plenty of not-useful problems to solve. there has to be an actual real tangible problem to solve that makes it valuable. people are willing to pay for non-useful jank, too
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:46 AM
Solving a real problem ensures that you'll have a long-term sustainable business
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mv
"solving (real and useful) problems for people in a way they're willing to pay for (and will actually benefit from)" there's plenty of not-useful problems to solve. there has to be an actual real tangible problem to solve that makes it valuable. people are willing to pay for non-useful jank, too
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:47 AM
to me this is like the difference between "what is art?" and "what is good art?" ๐Ÿ˜
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:48 AM
yes
10:48
something something AI
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Solving a real problem ensures that you'll have a long-term sustainable business
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 10:53 AM
This might be one of the reasons for the volatility and risk of game development!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:53 AM
Games are probably a pretty bad bet ๐Ÿ˜› (entrepreneurially) (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:54 AM
If you want to make games, its better to build a software company to make a lot of money and pour said money into a game that you don't mind if it doesn't make its money back
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 10:56 AM
Sustainable game development at a small scale seems to involve collecting as much external funding as you can, since the product has no revenue by design for the first N years of the business. It's not an ideal situation if you prefer bootstrapping!
10:57
"Games-and-tools company" a la Valve/Epic might be more snowballable, but those are the old guard...
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:59 AM
I have a few game ideas for JangaFX one-day
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11:00
Seems like unity is making the mistake of not making any games at all
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:48 AM
I would distinguish entrepreneurship from business ... business is "doing something people will pay for", but entrepreneurship IMO has to include some element of trying something that may not work (though this can be satisfied by doing something on your own, as opposed to an established business)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:49 AM
would "doing something (unreasonably) better" be included in the latter?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:49 AM
yes definitely
10:49
if you think you can do something much better than existing solutions, that's certainly "something that may not work" (because if people knew it would work, they would do it)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:50 AM
In a way you could say what our currently suite of tools do isn't that spectacularly amazing and novel (yet) at face value. It's all about the execution (and marketing), where UI and UX is a huge part (edited)
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Allen4th
My journey of entrepreneurship with 4coder was mostly accidental. Not that I didn't want to do an independent business - I did - but I never thought hard about how to do that. 4coder was a project that came out of my interests as a programmer, and it found enough of an audience that it sort of became a side business. I was also at a point in life where extra income was very helpful (I was attending college and paying rent) so I had some incentive to actually convert my little side project into a business. I'll throw in a topic segue here too. As someone who has "experienced" running a business, but doesn't feel particularly skilled at that side of things, I see this as a great opportunity to learn from ya'll more successful entrepreneurs. So my first quest is, what even is entrepreneurship? Second question, what route do you take to get good at it? Is this something you can practice? (edited)
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 10:51 AM
what route do you take to get good at it?
I wouldn't class myself as particularly experienced or successful, but I remember a distinct feeling when starting out that I didn't really know what the landscape of things that needed paying attention to or what questions I should be asking. Filling out my map so that I at least know (more of) what I don't know has been helpful
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 10:51 AM
I also follow a certain framework for business that I'll outline: If it makes CENTS it makes sense. This is from my all time favorite book that is a must read: The millionaire fastlane by MJ Demarco. Cheesy title, but changed my life and made JangaFX possible. Control - Do you have control over your platform? If google changes an algorithm are you screwed? If amazon deletes your store is it over for you? We have full control over our software distribution. Entry - How hard is it to get into your business? Can someone recode your software in a day or two and ship it? JangaFX has been tremendously difficult to start and the entry barrier is very high on many levels: Preexisting knowledge, physics programming, etc. Need - Is there a need for your product? Does it solve a very real problem? Waiting 12+ hours for a 2 second simulation is absolutely horrible. There was a massive need for EmberGen. Time - Can you eventually divorce your time from it? Can you go on vacation for a month and the business still runs itself, or can you sell it for a massive amount of money? Scale - How many potential customers are there? What's your ceiling? With software you have the ability to sell to the entire world.
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 10:50 AM
wondering if @demetrispanos has observed key insights with his sample size of 15. 11/15 failures seems like the stereotypical failure rate that puts a lot of people off from even trying.
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:51 AM
I can beat that, I've got a 1/1 track record
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:51 AM
to clarify, 11/15 did not fail but they did not achieve the kind of spectacular success the 4 did
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:51 AM
unicorns, eh
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:52 AM
I think maybe 4/11 could be called outright failures
10:52
"failures" in the sense that they were never able to pay any kind of return to investment / foregone salary
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:52 AM
4/15 is pretty good as for being "spectacularly successful" isn't it, all things considered. The usual meme is that most businesses fail, isn't it?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:53 AM
well, I don't mean to promote myself, but yes I think 4/15 is actually a quite good hit rate
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:53 AM
also I guess I should mention that separate from the 15, I was also a technical advisor to a VC firm for 3 years
10:53
and in that capacity I saw maybe 150 companies in detail
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mv Oct 01, 2022 10:53 AM
We probably represent the polar opposite direction of development I guess, considering we're completely bootstrapped with no VC or external investment
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 10:55 AM
I learned through my experience in silicon valley that the style you describe is much more in line with my personality
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demetrispanos
well, I don't mean to promote myself, but yes I think 4/15 is actually a quite good hit rate
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:00 AM
are there any particular patterns you can observe across the 4/15 that distinguish them from the other 11/15 (either things that look necessary or things that should be avoided at all costs)?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:03 AM
the 15 were already highly selected (basically only people I knew personally or knew people I knew personally) so I'd say most of it came down to picking the right markets at the right times (the $1B company actually started out doing something much much worse that made no money, before they switched to an entirely unrelated product)
11:03
I'd say one thing to avoid for sure is a team dominated by people who mainly want to do impressive tech stuff
11:04
(as opposed to making a compelling product)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:04 AM
impressive-tech people are good to have on the team, but not good to have in charge
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:05 AM
to put it slightly differently, a company that makes money but has no impressive tech is still a business ... a company that has impressive tech but makes no money is not a business
11:05
and unless you are able to live without money, you need to be a business
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demetrispanos
impressive-tech people are good to have on the team, but not good to have in charge
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:06 AM
impressive tech people are a dime a dozen. there's thousands of people who could program something like EmberGen-lite in a couple weeks. that's 1% of the work
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:06 AM
yeah I agree
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demetrispanos
I'd say one thing to avoid for sure is a team dominated by people who mainly want to do impressive tech stuff
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:07 AM
yeah, if you're involved in both the tech & business side you need to be constantly asking "is this actually going to be helpful for users/customers?" when developing features - it's very easy to just rathole on "interesting problems" (edited)
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demetrispanos
if you think you can do something much better than existing solutions, that's certainly "something that may not work" (because if people knew it would work, they would do it)
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:00 AM
Maybe a bit cheesy as a term, and it wasn't mentioned earlier specifically, but my view is there's almost always ways to "innovate" in almost all aspects of business. With the right mindset it should be possible to pick any industry, ask the people working in that industry what they struggle with or what their primary source of friction is, and then innovate and improve on what they tell you. Bonus point if you've got a foot in that industry from the get-go. Maybe this viewport has one foot in each camp, though?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:01 AM
Customer service, features, usability, pricing, etc
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:02 AM
Scale is an important knob to tweak. The size of your audience seems controlled more by what product you choose to build than anything else!
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:04 AM
I'd hazard a guess that most "spectacularly successful" businesses have massive scale potential, but that's not to say there's not a lot of room in the middle where there's potential moderate success at moderate scale (as in, not having to work another day in your life if you sell).
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mv
impressive tech people are a dime a dozen. there's thousands of people who could program something like EmberGen-lite in a couple weeks. that's 1% of the work
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:07 AM
Vision, execution, marketing, usability, market penetration etc all take it to the next 99%
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:07 AM
There's always another 20%
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:07 AM
entrepreneurship is actually just learning that there's always another 99% :P
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:08 AM
Unfortunately ๐Ÿ˜‰
11:08
I'm sad that I don't have enough lifetimes to build every tool I want to
11:08
I have a trillion ideas
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:08 AM
Most programmers, myself included, have spent months or years building out an interesting codebase without directing it towards a product, and didn't develop that skill -- even just on the technical level!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:04 AM
This is a bit random too, if your reasoning for not starting something is because "someone else is already doing it", that's your cue to actually go do it.
11:05
There were atleast 10 other fluid sim packages on the market when EmberGen was released, and we did it better than all of them combined. (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:05 AM
Most of the time, the people already doing it are actually doing a pretty crappy job at it!
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:06 AM
This applies to games as well. If you bring your own personal taste to the art, there will actually be a lot of room for you in the market.
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Andrew (azmr)
yeah, if you're involved in both the tech & business side you need to be constantly asking "is this actually going to be helpful for users/customers?" when developing features - it's very easy to just rathole on "interesting problems" (edited)
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:09 AM
Every time Nick says "it would be nice to have...." a kitten dies
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:10 AM
"It would be nice to have EmberGen" thank me later ๐Ÿ˜„
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:10 AM
you were right once, geez
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11:10
hehehe
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:11 AM
One thing that helps when starting a business with this sort of thing is being the end user of a particular product or solving one of your pains. From there you can have a fuckload of passion for it.
11:11
I have an absolutely undying need to beat everyone in our market. I wake up and think about it and go to sleep thinking about it.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:12 AM
passion is often where businesses go to die, so tread lightly though
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Allen4th
My journey of entrepreneurship with 4coder was mostly accidental. Not that I didn't want to do an independent business - I did - but I never thought hard about how to do that. 4coder was a project that came out of my interests as a programmer, and it found enough of an audience that it sort of became a side business. I was also at a point in life where extra income was very helpful (I was attending college and paying rent) so I had some incentive to actually convert my little side project into a business. I'll throw in a topic segue here too. As someone who has "experienced" running a business, but doesn't feel particularly skilled at that side of things, I see this as a great opportunity to learn from ya'll more successful entrepreneurs. So my first quest is, what even is entrepreneurship? Second question, what route do you take to get good at it? Is this something you can practice? (edited)
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:06 AM
There are traditional practices that can make you a better entrepreneur, and I can touch on those in a minute. However, we should acknowledge the current environment. The modern pattern is: (1) Software shop runs out of money, dies. (2) Software shop gets acquired. (3) Software shop raises outside funding, owner is no longer under full control. This is the trend that dominates the tech industry, or am I wrong? In general, it is punishing to be independent and/or bootstrapped, but somehow this is what we want (at least that's true for me.)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:11 AM
(4) Friction between owners, everything implodes
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:13 AM
(5) Friction between owners, everything explodes Trust me, there's a difference hehehe
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:14 AM
Luckily morten and I haven't gotten into many bouts. He trusts me to run the business and guide us and only speaks up if he really thinks i'm doing something wrong and I listen. And likewise I trust him fully to make the right tech decisions even if I don't understand it fully.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:18 AM
being a solo founder is definitely a mixed blessing/curse... you have total control, but you don't have anyone to counteract your weak areas, and it can be demotivating not having anyone to talk to who has the same investment in what you're working on
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:20 AM
Being a duo founder is the opposite tradeoff - you don't have total control, instead you feed positively off each other's energy - but it can demotivate your partner if you are against something they are invested in (edited)
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Abner Coimbre
There are traditional practices that can make you a better entrepreneur, and I can touch on those in a minute. However, we should acknowledge the current environment. The modern pattern is: (1) Software shop runs out of money, dies. (2) Software shop gets acquired. (3) Software shop raises outside funding, owner is no longer under full control. This is the trend that dominates the tech industry, or am I wrong? In general, it is punishing to be independent and/or bootstrapped, but somehow this is what we want (at least that's true for me.)
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 11:12 AM
This sounds like that overlap between the Handmade Ethos and Entreprenuership to me. Is this ideal of being independent, bootstrapped, sustainable, etc. the handmade ethos of entreprenuership?
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:09 AM
re: filling out the map of business concepts we've mentioned 1 or 2, but there are a bunch of conceptual tools/frameworks for startups, many of which I think are from silicon valley... it might be interesting to consider which of these we think are actually useful and which are just fluff
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:13 AM
one thing that I did early on in prep for meeting an advisor was fill out a "Lean Business Model Canvas". This definitely helped give me a better overview of the different components of the business (edited)
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:13 AM
This is counterintuitive for me, isnt technical prowess the majority of the value proposition? As in the case of Embergen, their iteration speed is a technical achievement that bests their competitors. I dont see how this can be 1% of the work as a whole. Being 1% of the work assumes it should only take 1% of your focus, or am I misinterpreting the statement? (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:14 AM
This is counterintuitive for me, isnt technical prowess the majority of the value proposition?
only on the surface really, but it's definitely part of the optics and first impressions
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:16 AM
The technical prowess is definitely part of the core value proposition, and we wouldn't really be successful without it, but it's impact eventually drowns in proportional to "everything else" that turns out to be important to develop, market and maintain a tool
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:16 AM
EmberGen is (currently) pretty damn slow tbh. Beware of tech debt and feature creep, as they say
11:16
xD
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Zeanith
This is counterintuitive for me, isnt technical prowess the majority of the value proposition? As in the case of Embergen, their iteration speed is a technical achievement that bests their competitors. I dont see how this can be 1% of the work as a whole. Being 1% of the work assumes it should only take 1% of your focus, or am I misinterpreting the statement? (edited)
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:15 AM
I think maybe the idea is that you apply handmade programming as an ethos as a part of the effort to produce the user experience. It's the same in a game -- the handmade programming is not the value-add per se, it's that it was an extremely effective way to effect that value
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Zeanith
This is counterintuitive for me, isnt technical prowess the majority of the value proposition? As in the case of Embergen, their iteration speed is a technical achievement that bests their competitors. I dont see how this can be 1% of the work as a whole. Being 1% of the work assumes it should only take 1% of your focus, or am I misinterpreting the statement? (edited)
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:16 AM
In the case of EmberGen, it's only a matter of time before others eventually reach our level technically, so we have to out-chess them in otherways.
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mv
The technical prowess is definitely part of the core value proposition, and we wouldn't really be successful without it, but it's impact eventually drowns in proportional to "everything else" that turns out to be important to develop, market and maintain a tool
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:17 AM
I would clarify here, even though I realize it seems pedantic, that no customer pays you for your prowess. They only pay you for things they value. Your prowess matters to you because, used properly, it can let you provide things they value.
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philliptrudeau
Most programmers, myself included, have spent months or years building out an interesting codebase without directing it towards a product, and didn't develop that skill -- even just on the technical level!
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:15 AM
Directing it towards a product implies you have users to communicate with, and an audience that wants that product. You need to carve out a space for learning to build an audience. Send some emails, make some tweets, try some videos, write some blog posts. Send them to Discords, Hacker News, etc. (edited)
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11:16
There is a skill to marketing, and you can learn it by a combination of behavioral economic books and most importantly trial and error.
11:16
Programmers fear the social ridicule from failed attempts at marketing, but learning to live with that fear is key to succeeding as an entrepreneur.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:21 AM
very true... and along with potential social stigma, the results of marketing are far less concrete, repeatable or immediate than with the types of problems programmers are used to dealing with (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:16 AM
Programmers brag sometimes about how scientific they are, until they're faced with the prospect of marketing their product, and then they start playing darts :)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:17 AM
Actually, they don't even play darts, they just throw one dart and it bounces off the wall 5 feet away
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mv
The technical prowess is definitely part of the core value proposition, and we wouldn't really be successful without it, but it's impact eventually drowns in proportional to "everything else" that turns out to be important to develop, market and maintain a tool
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 11:17 AM
I am hearing that good tech is a necessary - but not sufficient ingredient to an independent bootstrapped business. So what is this "everything else"?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:18 AM
good tech is really not necessary :P
11:18
a friend of mine was the founding CTO of uber, and their tech was terrible
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Allen4th
I am hearing that good tech is a necessary - but not sufficient ingredient to an independent bootstrapped business. So what is this "everything else"?
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:18 AM
UI, UX, marketing, scaling, and a bunch more xD
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Allen4th
I am hearing that good tech is a necessary - but not sufficient ingredient to an independent bootstrapped business. So what is this "everything else"?
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:19 AM
Above all, the never ending push and desire to get it done. JangaFX has been unbelievably difficult for me to continually exectue on. Many, many mistakes. Much stress. etc
11:20
I'm sure morten & the team have similar feelings, just in a different area of the business
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
In the case of EmberGen, it's only a matter of time before others eventually reach our level technically, so we have to out-chess them in otherways.
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:20 AM
What strategies in particular were you able to use to out-chess the competition? What innovation was employed on the marketing/execution side? I'd love to know a small example if you can divulge such info. An example of a key mistake would be interesting too.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:20 AM
Usability. They're archaic. Dog-shit UI
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:20 AM
What's the opposite of innovation? Stagnation?
11:21
Big dog tools stagnate
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:21 AM
Regression right? Getting worse over time.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:22 AM
bloating is also involved somehow, even though conceptually it doesn't seem required
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:22 AM
The bigger the bite the longer it takes to chew, so to speak. Hard to innovate when you're always busy keeping the current thing alive
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Allen4th
I am hearing that good tech is a necessary - but not sufficient ingredient to an independent bootstrapped business. So what is this "everything else"?
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:23 AM
It sounds fluffy and copout-y, but when you have the time and the motivation to focus purely on the business (which is sometimes a privilege!) then you sort of just start analyzing everything that you need to Get Done, and I think it's going to vary a lot per business when we're talking smaller individual-level scale. You have a limited bandwidth anyway, so you start entering the "optimization mode" like with code where you find the 80% easy-wins and optimize them down to marginal, rinse and repeat
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
I think you're assuming that I (and the audience) do know what "needs to Get Done". I spent 5 years trying to advance 4coder by doing what I thought needed to get done, and while I was successful in my specific goals, the broader goal of making 4coder more popular only ever happened when I made it cheaper. I'm trying to get ya'll to take seriously the possibility that it's not obvious to everyone what's worth paying attention to.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:39 AM
That's fair. It's hard for me to say! By committing myself to finishing a game, my mind quickly focused on the immediate tasks at hand -- "today I need to get Steam integration in the codebase"; "today I need to check in with translators"; "today I need to call the marketing liaison about sketching out a press release". In a business, the overarching goals are obviously just to build a product that users value and then to make them aware that it exists, but implicit in those are two parallel-running scientific processes of refining one's strategy. It's hard for me to know what that looks like ahead of time, which might be partly why it's still nebulous to me. The main advice I've seen has been general best-practices for an overarching field/discipline (e.g. best practices for small indie games) -- and acting heterodox in those areas can sometimes be a good risk/reward in itself.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:44 AM
What needs to get done depends to some degree on what stage your business/product is at. The Startup Owners Manual splits the key initial processes into Customer Discovery and Customer Validation (photos show pipelines for each)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:48 AM
For better or for worse, I dont' really overthink things with diagrams like this haha
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:23 AM
For EmberGen 1.0 coming up, we're really hammering down on usability or ease of use. I want it to be so easy to get into EmberGen and get the assets you need that there's almost no thought needed on how to do that. Not only that but building a workflow that's very specific to games in a way that makes sense to our target market. Most game studio use film tools and bend them to fit their pipeline. With us, they don't have to because we built it for them in the first place
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demetrispanos
bloating is also involved somehow, even though conceptually it doesn't seem required
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:23 AM
I'm of the opinion that bloat is almost always inevitable, in terms of bloat tech debt, feature creep, or worse, and it's incredibly hard to fight the urge to scale in complexity
11:23
Hard to succeed without those creeping in tho
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:24 AM
"Paying down your technical debt regularly is part of sustaining yourself" -- paraphrasing Jon Blow
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:24 AM
Shortcuts must eventually be made one way or another. Can you find the right balance?
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Zeanith
What strategies in particular were you able to use to out-chess the competition? What innovation was employed on the marketing/execution side? I'd love to know a small example if you can divulge such info. An example of a key mistake would be interesting too.
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:25 AM
I think a key mistake was us prioritizing XYZ feature when we knew it would incur significant technical debt. We also had the general idea of what our tool should be but not having it super concrete has caused us to re-write it. But with this being our first successful commercial product, we have the freedom and flexibility to undo our mistakes
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
For now
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
not having it super concrete
this is extremely important / dangerous, but also powerful ... it's often important to follow your intuition that there's an opportunity somewhere, but it's also important not to let that ambiguity linger very long (because it makes you waste time and psychic energy entertaining uncertainty)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:28 AM
Something something outside the box
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Abner Coimbre
Programmers fear the social ridicule from failed attempts at marketing, but learning to live with that fear is key to succeeding as an entrepreneur.
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:24 AM
How am I surviving with Handmade Seattle when I don't have any company sponsors? When I don't have a YouTube channel? First I acknowledge the power of the Handmade brand, but that's never enough to pay rent long-term. The answer is lots of pings and emails after following these steps: (1) Subscribe to feeds that talk about anything related to your product. You're already a programmer, so build up your own custom feed. Imagine receiving email notifications from special keywords from Twitter and Hacker News. (2) Manually hunt for blog posts and social media in addition to the automatic feed from #1. (3) Start connecting with people. "Oh hey, I understand exactly what you're going through. That's why I'm building X, Y, and Z. Wanna check it out sometime?" With #3 you start building professional relationships (gasp all on your own! ๐Ÿ˜„ ) (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
Loris Cro recently gave me the revelation that the purpose of Twitter is literally just for companies to track their brand's performance!
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
I know you might immediately feel "icky" because of so many SEO experts and small CEOs out there doing the same thing. Like cold-calling or cold-emailing people.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
But the point isn't to sell them on something right then and there.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:26 AM
The point is build relationships. Genuine professional friendships because they respect what you're working on, and hopefully you respect and learn about their stuff too.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:27 AM
Over the years this builds into a loose but powerful network that cares about you.
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Abner Coimbre
I know you might immediately feel "icky" because of so many SEO experts and small CEOs out there doing the same thing. Like cold-calling or cold-emailing people.
mv Oct 01, 2022 11:27 AM
Unlike me, who hangs up if it's an unknown number (or ignores it if I know who it is, more often than not). There's a reason Nick is the CEO xD
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Andrew (azmr)
very true... and along with potential social stigma, the results of marketing are far less concrete, repeatable or immediate than with the types of problems programmers are used to dealing with (edited)
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:29 AM
That's right. I think this is a good time for @demetrispanos's poker analogy when it comes to social skills.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:28 AM
Linkedin makes us a lot of money with reaching out and building our network
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Abner Coimbre
Over the years this builds into a loose but powerful network that cares about you.
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:29 AM
Unfortunately my network is pretty loose these days
11:30
I've probably talked to thousands of people over the past few years
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:30 AM
Oh?
11:30
Hah, yes, relatable.
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:30 AM
At some point people reach out to you
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:30 AM
It becomes problematic "Hey, we talked at XYZ, and we discussed this and this, whats the status?" Oh you're person #7,487
11:31
Someone make a rolodex software with notes and grabs convos from every platform out there
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:31 AM
@Nick Seavert - JangaFX Let me just say that that's as good problem to have. (edited)
11:31
Most programmers in this community are very very far away from this problem that they should have
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:32 AM
Something about being too successful getting to the point where things are less organic and down to earth (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Someone make a rolodex software with notes and grabs convos from every platform out there
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:32 AM
Big money idea, who's going to take it?
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:32 AM
You should, of course, figure out the limits at which you can keep your network alive and healthy.
11:33
But you need to have a network in the first place, and that's the skill I hope people start to build right away in addition to working on their product.
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:34 AM
We probably should have talked about networking from the start. It's quite important
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:34 AM
yes, and this relates to the poker analogy actually
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:34 AM
It's critical. Without it, Handmade Seattle would be dead. Terminal Click wouldn't have enough fans to tell me to keep going
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:34 AM
I've built my entire network from scratch, as we all do. When I started JangaFX I knew absolutely no one in my target market. I didn't even know a fellow VFX Artist (edited)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:34 AM
most of my business has come, one way or another, downstream of some kind of networking
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11:35
but at the same time probably 3/4 meetings or introductions I do go nowhere
11:35
so it's very easy to misunderstand what is happening when you first start out
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:36 AM
this is an article from a friend of mine who, amusingly, wrote this as a consequence of me meeting him randomly through a HN post https://www.codusoperandi.com/posts/increasing-your-luck-surface-area
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demetrispanos
this is an article from a friend of mine who, amusingly, wrote this as a consequence of me meeting him randomly through a HN post https://www.codusoperandi.com/posts/increasing-your-luck-surface-area
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:37 AM
Seems to follow my philosophy that the more quarters you put into the golden gumball machine, the more golden gumballs you have a chance to accrue (edited)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:38 AM
yes, or to quote the great Linus Pauling, "the best way to have a good idea is to have many ideas"
11:38
(this applies in many things in life, not just ideas)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:36 AM
That makes sense. Here are some numbers from Handmade Seattle 2021: I believe I spoke to 80 to 85 speakers because most of them would say no.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:37 AM
These are genuine and heartfelt meetings that I have with people. The conference was still a success, but notice the churn rate. It was high (for an up-and-coming conference, at least.) This is normal. (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:41 AM
Of course COVID was a factor for 2021. In either case I notice each year it gets easier. For 2022 I'm actually having an issue with sorting out proposals since I got a lot. My guess is that the loose network finally started working on my behalf as soon as I announced going full-time on this.
11:42
So that's an interesting idea: can you invest in your network over time, and then tell your network about some big business move that gets you some amazing return?
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:43 AM
You mentioned the conference got a bump when banning language talks, how big was this bump roughly? Personally I like when companies are principled to their core purpose and assume this is what resonated in the network you built.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:47 AM
I don't want to give exact numbers, but it was the best month in terms of sudden revenue in Handmade Seattle history. Ticket sales and donations poured in in a way that I never expected. For anyone lost, I did a ban on language talks for this year, expecting I would piss off a lot of people and lose customers: https://vimeo.com/737044714
Handmade Seattle 2022 will not allow presentations designed to promote programming languages.
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:48 AM
oh I meant more of a percentage, not exact values, but understandable if you dont want to divulge that.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:48 AM
And I agree! Being principled to the core purpose of the conference did resonate with my network.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:49 AM
It's possible that the correlation with more sales is a result of the attention the conference got in general, independent of the controversial decision!
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:50 AM
Fair point!
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:50 AM
@philliptrudeau And I also learned that some people were getting tired of systems programming conferences oriented around a single language. cppcon, pycon, RustConf, cppnorth, etc.
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11:51
So in a way I tapped into an undiscovered market
11:51
My legitimate conclusion is that's what resulted in all the sales / donations
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Zeanith
oh I meant more of a percentage, not exact values, but understandable if you dont want to divulge that.
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:49 AM
That's an interesting question. @Nick Seavert - JangaFX how comfortable are we supposed to be, as entrepreneurs, with sharing financials?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:49 AM
ART OF MONEY GETTING
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:49 AM
Dont blab
Some men have a foolish habit of telling their business secrets. If they make money they like to tell their neighbors how it was done. Nothing is gained by this, and ofttimes much is lost. Say nothing about your profits, your hopes, your expectations, your intentions. And this should apply to letters as well as to conversation. Goethe makes Mephistophiles say: โ€œNever write a letter nor destroy one.โ€ Business men must write letters, but they should be careful what they put in them. If you are losing money, be specially cautious and not tell of it, or you will lose your reputation.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:50 AM
I don't tell exact numbers or things anymore. I told someone and they stabbed me in the back and it hurt a lot. Destroyed what I thought was a friendship (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:52 AM
That was my gut instinct about these things. Thank you. And I'm sorry that happened to you.
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 11:53 AM
@Nick Seavert - JangaFX sorry about your experience, the few people I do know in entrepreneurial endeavors all have some story of how a friendship was compromised due to their pursuit. Not for this to be a morbid tangent.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:52 AM
actually the entire "Autodesk Book" is useful reading for aspiring entrepreneurs
handmadeThumbsUp 1
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:56 AM
The Autodesk File: A history of Autodesk and AutoCAD in documents
handmadeThumbsUp 1
11:57
it describes the founding and early years of autodesk
11:57
(from the perspective of the founders)
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demetrispanos
actually the entire "Autodesk Book" is useful reading for aspiring entrepreneurs
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:53 AM
I try to live by this one in particular
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 11:53 AM
I think a lot of businesses take major efforts to measure all the aspects of the attention they're getting. "Are customers interested because we did something interesting, or were customers who were already interested get spurred on by coverage?" Et cetera. For most Steam games, your audience "already exists", and the challenge is not to convince them that they should be interested, the challenge is just to make them aware that you exist.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:53 AM
One thing that gets emphasized is having a "minimal viable product" early to get feedback from potential users. We've had discussions around MVPs on the servers before, and it seems like people here prefer the similar concept of a "vertical slice". Either way, it's something that demonstrates what you think are the key selling points of your product... This is easier with some things than others - if you have a high latency web tool like Airbnb, the MVP's 'processing' can be faked with the founders manually finding matches. If you're making something that requires technical excellence to demonstrate its value, you don't really have this option, so an MVP has to involve a dramatic (temporary) cutting off scope. I'm curious what the initial JangaFX demos looked like and what @mv and @Nick Seavert - JangaFX focused on for them (edited)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:53 AM
"vertical slice" and MVP are quite different
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11:53
MVP is the simplest thing someone would conceivably pay for
11:53
it may only have one feature, but at some low price someone might pay for it
11:54
"vertical slice" instead is meant to exercise all the features but in a very constrained way (e.g. one level in a game)
11:55
so e.g. "the witness" MVP could be just a $1 iphone game with the tablet puzzles
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 11:55 AM
and a vertical slice would be the full 3D experience with all systems working, but just one room
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:55 AM
Vertical slices are key to getting publisher funding in game studios.
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Andrew (azmr)
One thing that gets emphasized is having a "minimal viable product" early to get feedback from potential users. We've had discussions around MVPs on the servers before, and it seems like people here prefer the similar concept of a "vertical slice". Either way, it's something that demonstrates what you think are the key selling points of your product... This is easier with some things than others - if you have a high latency web tool like Airbnb, the MVP's 'processing' can be faked with the founders manually finding matches. If you're making something that requires technical excellence to demonstrate its value, you don't really have this option, so an MVP has to involve a dramatic (temporary) cutting off scope. I'm curious what the initial JangaFX demos looked like and what @mv and @Nick Seavert - JangaFX focused on for them (edited)
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:55 AM
๐Ÿ”ฅ 2
11:56
vs
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 11:57 AM
how long into development was this and what features did you exclude in the process of getting there?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:57 AM
Camera imports, mesh imports, vdb export iirc. Fancy render features (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:57 AM
Isn't that what we called the beta? XD
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:57 AM
Nah, beta actually had nodes ๐Ÿ˜„
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mv Oct 01, 2022 11:58 AM
The MVP had most of the core simulation tech, but missing most of the advanced and complex features, UI and UX
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:58 AM
Exactly
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Andrew (azmr)
how long into development was this and what features did you exclude in the process of getting there?
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:00 PM
I can't really say we excluded anything at that point. We shortly touched on the unknowns and lack of initial direction before, and we didn't really know what the final product would need/have
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 11:59 AM
Here's another interesting question for the people who have hired contractors or employees. (This was a discussion I was having with @Allen4th recently.) If the person you hired has their own side projects, and they tell you about it (C.Y.A. aka Cover Your Ass), how concerned are you about intellectual property, conflicts of interest, etc.?
11:59
How do you ensure they feel like you won't sue them, and how do you ensure you feel your trade secrets are safe? (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 11:59 AM
People in our company are able to work on their own projects freely as long as it doesn't conflict with our work or compete against us. Example: Odin being a project on the side
12:00
Other than that, we just have to trust them. Otherwise they'll get Sued (edited)
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Zeanith
@Nick Seavert - JangaFX sorry about your experience, the few people I do know in entrepreneurial endeavors all have some story of how a friendship was compromised due to their pursuit. Not for this to be a morbid tangent.
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:00 PM
For practical advice that might help tiny teams that are starting out: It's helpful to set out explicit ground rules about decisionmaking/onboarding/etc., and a clear separation of responsibilities. (Also, get stuff like contracts written out early if you can -- I know talking on Slack/Discord can be pretty chill, but one of your team members is eventually gonna be in a difficult situation, and you want everyone to be on the same page by then!)
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Abner Coimbre
How do you ensure they feel like you won't sue them, and how do you ensure you feel your trade secrets are safe? (edited)
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:00 PM
as a first approximation, there is nothing you can do that is economically rational
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:00 PM
protecting against low-probability events is not compatible with early-stage organizational goals
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:00 PM
mmm, interesting
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:01 PM
obviously your contract should have standard terms like non-disclosure, and IP/copyright assignment
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:01 PM
This
12:01
We cover our ass via contracts
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:01 PM
but actually enforcing that, if it ever comes to it, costs tens of thousands of dollars
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:02 PM
Yeah, at a small scale you want your technical people working on things that make them interested, even just to keep them motivated if nothing else. (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:02 PM
And we encourage side project development as it turns into really neat new things that we could possibly use to grow the company. Like our new terrain editor we're working on (edited)
12:02
Started out as "hey i'm doing this thing, would you want it to be a jangafx project?
12:02
Then boom, add some funding to it and now it's a real product we're doing
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:03 PM
I don't know how this stuff works at higher scales i.e 80+ people
12:03
But for now, we're doing good, the team is very happy, and most are on the same page and I don't think they'd do anything to wrong us as it would hurt them as well
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Started out as "hey i'm doing this thing, would you want it to be a jangafx project?
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:04 PM
Lets not forget this person has a small stake in the company and has financial incentives in including it in our portfolio. Taking an arbitrary employee's idea and running with isn't as easy without proper compensation
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:04 PM
This is true too
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:04 PM
The impression I got was that Google basically angel-invests their employees to rabbithole on new projects just in case it's the next big thing
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:04 PM
Like Google Stadia!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:04 PM
I thought it died years ago, but turns out it died yesterday lol
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12:05
After GDC 2019 i never heard of it again
12:05
In the grave where it belongs
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:05 PM
Must be a lot of grumpy skeleton crews working at some game studios targeting stadia!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
We cover our ass via contracts
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:07 PM
Which contract templates do you recommend, if any? Did you hire a lawyer to figure that out? Say I want @Zeanith to contribute to my terminal emulator codebase. What's a useful way to ensure that my codebase is still owned by me? And then Zeanith also wants to reuse specific implementations that he developed on the job. I should probably be okay with that, but this feels like it's getting hairy.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:07 PM
We hired a lawyer
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:08 PM
Be safe, dont hire @Zeanith
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Abner Coimbre
Which contract templates do you recommend, if any? Did you hire a lawyer to figure that out? Say I want @Zeanith to contribute to my terminal emulator codebase. What's a useful way to ensure that my codebase is still owned by me? And then Zeanith also wants to reuse specific implementations that he developed on the job. I should probably be okay with that, but this feels like it's getting hairy.
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:08 PM
one of you will own the code in question, but they can give the other person an infinite license to do what they want with it
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:08 PM
Oh?
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:08 PM
the main distinction between owning and licensing is whose job it is to get legal if someone else misuses it
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:08 PM
there are contract template sites like Nolo (I have happily used them before)
12:09
but really, the problem is not the contract in 90% of problems
12:09
this is what I mean about economic rationality
12:09
95% of the time, you will have no problem
12:09
in the remaining 5%, 90% of the time the problem will not be the contract
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:09 PM
๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:09 PM
so now how much do you want to invest in a 0.5% probability problem?
12:10
your contract should either make them an employee, or it should stipulate that they transfer all rights
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:10 PM
and in either case, should include non-disclosure
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:09 PM
re: documents, we just met with a lawyer as part of setting up an HMN nonprofit, and one of the things she told us was that services like LegalZoom don't actually give legal advice, so they are often garbage in, garbage out
12:09
that is, you put in garbage as a non-lawyer, and they don't really help
12:10
that said, this was for 501(c)(3) application and such, not routine CYA agreements
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:12 PM
my sister, a many-hundred-per-hour lawyer, says legalzoom and nolo are totally fine for commodity contracts
12:13
and I have never had any problem using them
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:10 PM
For our game I used https://docontract.com/ just to have a dead simple agreement in writing. The contractor is the one who retains the rights to their work, but they grant the company perpetual license to redistribute the work (i.e., sell the game content on all platforms) as Andrew just said.
contract( ) (pronounced 'do contract') generates free, plain language agreements for and between game developers.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:10 PM
you can always use a template and then lawyer it later and revise said contract
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philliptrudeau
For our game I used https://docontract.com/ just to have a dead simple agreement in writing. The contractor is the one who retains the rights to their work, but they grant the company perpetual license to redistribute the work (i.e., sell the game content on all platforms) as Andrew just said.
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:10 PM
this is IMO too friendly to the contractor
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12:10
I would not hire a contractor who was not willing to do IP assignment / work-for-hire
12:11
there's no reason to give them the ability to hold on to IP developed downstream of your own
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:11 PM
Sounds like a nightmare
12:11
Legally and logistically
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:11 PM
if they want to make their own thing, on their own time, and then charge me a license then that's fine
12:11
if I'm paying for you to build it, I own it, end of story
this 2
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:11 PM
Yep
12:12
If someone is doing any coding work and it relates to us or the projects we have internally, and we are paying you, its ours.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:12 PM
For us, we had artists where I did not want to take away their rights to their art, but it makes sense for larger projects that the company owns the art.
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demetrispanos
if I'm paying for you to build it, I own it, end of story
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:12 PM
This has given me a lot of clarity. Thank you
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:12 PM
At bigger studios, artists are doing style-matching anyway, so it's not necessarily a very pure form of self-expression.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:13 PM
I like @demetrispanos brevity
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:13 PM
we all do
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:14 PM
I'm a man of long wind
12:14
A team meeting without me is a dead meeting
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:14 PM
Speaking of contracts. Our initial setup wasn't exactly top notch xD
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:14 PM
Our EULA was written by me
12:14
Still is to this day
philli47Chad 1
12:15
But initially we used boilerplate for sure. When we had the money we lawyered. We made mistakes, and then fixed them. Now we're fixing more stuff etc
12:15
Its an ongoing process as you learn
12:15
I try not to get too caught up in it and just make do with what we have until we see that there's an issue (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:16 PM
When you're 2 dudes in a basement, boilerplate helps establish boundaries ASAP, which you can revise into more serious agreements as you grow and lawyer up
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:16 PM
Yeah this is not too different from practicing your networking skills. Maybe there's a little more stress with legal stuff, but you can still make mistakes and fix (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:16 PM
It's kind of like the time we wrote a letter to the IRS telling them that we were sorry and they let us off the hook (edited)
philli47Chad 1
12:16
๐Ÿ˜„
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:17 PM
I have gotten into hot water with the tax man.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:17 PM
In August they closed my business account and revoked my license ๐Ÿ˜ฌ (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:18 PM
(All resolved. But the point is we're all human and make mistakes. You can almost always fix them.)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:16 PM
yeah I guess the other thing I'd point out is that as soon as you are engaging the legal system for any reason, you are losing
12:16
even if you "win"
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:18 PM
Hire an accountant and do not under any circumstances mix personal and business finances
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:19 PM
My final advice on legal stuff is this: I knew a lawyer representing a very large international company and they told me "We're all just guessing, so pick which guess you want"
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:20 PM
That's so important to know
12:20
Don't let your engineer perfectionism think there's a perfect modeling of the social world
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:20 PM
Took a lot of stress off of me ๐Ÿ™‚
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:20 PM
Same
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
My final advice on legal stuff is this: I knew a lawyer representing a very large international company and they told me "We're all just guessing, so pick which guess you want"
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:21 PM
This is not legal advice, i'm not going to get sued by you, etc etcโ„ข๏ธ (edited)
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:17 PM
I think this can segue into something very near and dear to my heart. Let's say there are projects you want to do, that at a technical level will clearly be a benefit to a lot of people, but there's very little obvious way to commoditize them? For example, say you're building something in the core tool chain like a programming language, object file format, debug file format, linker, etc. Producing documentation for existing formats, utility libraries to make better analysis of these kinds of data, etc. etc. When I look at these sorts of projects the biggest problem is that they cost money to build but I see no way to make money from them without killing the entire benefit of the project, which is making it more likely that all the software out there dealing with this core tool chain works well. What is a handmade programmer to do?
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:17 PM
(when I was writing the post we were still talking about IP and not taxes ๐Ÿ˜† )
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Allen4th
I think this can segue into something very near and dear to my heart. Let's say there are projects you want to do, that at a technical level will clearly be a benefit to a lot of people, but there's very little obvious way to commoditize them? For example, say you're building something in the core tool chain like a programming language, object file format, debug file format, linker, etc. Producing documentation for existing formats, utility libraries to make better analysis of these kinds of data, etc. etc. When I look at these sorts of projects the biggest problem is that they cost money to build but I see no way to make money from them without killing the entire benefit of the project, which is making it more likely that all the software out there dealing with this core tool chain works well. What is a handmade programmer to do?
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:18 PM
I was just about to ask about segueing into funding. Casey used to have a Handmade Fund that he unfortunately wound down, due to this reason.
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Allen4th
I think this can segue into something very near and dear to my heart. Let's say there are projects you want to do, that at a technical level will clearly be a benefit to a lot of people, but there's very little obvious way to commoditize them? For example, say you're building something in the core tool chain like a programming language, object file format, debug file format, linker, etc. Producing documentation for existing formats, utility libraries to make better analysis of these kinds of data, etc. etc. When I look at these sorts of projects the biggest problem is that they cost money to build but I see no way to make money from them without killing the entire benefit of the project, which is making it more likely that all the software out there dealing with this core tool chain works well. What is a handmade programmer to do?
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:18 PM
the Zig lot seem to be doing a pretty good job with this
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:21 PM
a patreon model and lots of audience interaction may also be possible
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:19 PM
The current answer pragmatically is "corporate sponsors", but I think the question is more about the philosophy and technique to apply
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:21 PM
Sort of reeling things in here, but i don't know if we've been able to touch on too many potential overlaps between Handmade and Entrepreneurship. Part of the Handmade ethos often includes a variant of "doing things yourself" or "doing things your own way", which can actually be very benefitial in the path to innovation, if you're able to do something in a way someone isn't able to because they're bogged down in too many paradigms or dogmas, not just technically. Doing something yourself can let you progress and iterate quite rapidly towards an MVP, but it can also be a double edged sword
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:22 PM
I think handmade applies to entrepreneurship, is with the handmade philosophy you can make almost any program better than any other company out there. Handmade software devs are a rare breed and they have the opportunity to really make waves. (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:22 PM
Yeah and I'm literally betting on that ability to make waves
12:23
with Handmade Seattle
12:23
and the reason we can't accept corporate sponsors is because we claim we believe in building high quality software. And in innovating for the benefit of the end user
12:23
"this statement was sponsored by Microsoft"
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:24 PM
Kind of falls flat on its face if we're sponsored by companies contributing to the status quo we hate
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:23 PM
Apply the same care that you have for software dev to your customers and you can unseat any tool out there
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:24 PM
Also, if you want to be the tech guy, hire a CEO
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:25 PM
I had a pretty revealing conversation with one of the co-founders of Etsy years ago. He told me "You need to either learn the software dev and lead this, or just be the CEO"
12:25
And then that's when I tried to find Morten for the tech portion (edited)
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Allen4th
I think this can segue into something very near and dear to my heart. Let's say there are projects you want to do, that at a technical level will clearly be a benefit to a lot of people, but there's very little obvious way to commoditize them? For example, say you're building something in the core tool chain like a programming language, object file format, debug file format, linker, etc. Producing documentation for existing formats, utility libraries to make better analysis of these kinds of data, etc. etc. When I look at these sorts of projects the biggest problem is that they cost money to build but I see no way to make money from them without killing the entire benefit of the project, which is making it more likely that all the software out there dealing with this core tool chain works well. What is a handmade programmer to do?
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:24 PM
in the worst-case revenue scenarios (like indie games), i think peopleโ€™s strategy is to just spin up their full-time funding grind. reaching out to interested parties, government grants, publishers, etc. and going through their song and dance to get the next bit of funding. It is a challenge to maintain the handmade ethos along the way, though, as more investors ask more of your product.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:23 PM
on the assumption that people here err towards doing things themselves... I think it's worth paying attention to which components of your product are core to its main selling point and strongly considering using pre-existing components for everything else (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:25 PM
So you don't build everything from scratch with WhiteBox? Only parts you consider to be core to the main selling point?
12:26
There is a skill to researching which libraries you can use to save you time. I went with Sokol for Terminal Click, and I got cross-platform modern graphics right away. Before this I spent 3-4 months on Vulkan, with the end result being a buggy 2D library (edited)
12:27
I don't regret learning Vulkan, but it prevented me from iterating on interesting features for too long
12:27
not a wise business move
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:28 PM
Just going to plop this in as a fantastic resource: https://successfulsoftware.net/
...requires more than just good programming.
12:28
Helped me so much when starting JangaFX
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Abner Coimbre
I don't regret learning Vulkan, but it prevented me from iterating on interesting features for too long
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:28 PM
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:29 PM
awkward
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Abner Coimbre
I don't regret learning Vulkan, but it prevented me from iterating on interesting features for too long
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:29 PM
Is this the double-edged sword @mv alluded to? Basically iteration speed over deep reengineering for technical prowess? I guess a handmade dev should be aware that this is a tradeoff, although we seem to generally skew heavily towards technical prowess.
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Zeanith
Is this the double-edged sword @mv alluded to? Basically iteration speed over deep reengineering for technical prowess? I guess a handmade dev should be aware that this is a tradeoff, although we seem to generally skew heavily towards technical prowess.
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:31 PM
not too sure tbh. rather, the double edged sword is often a predisposition for doing 80% solutions, as you don't know what the other 80% is, and you just can't know what will eventually be needed. If you keep going for too long without mending past mistakes (with hindsight) you basically get tech debt galore (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:27 PM
Some handmade software you can build โ€œfrom scrapsโ€ instead of from scratch, where you judiciously and carefully adopt complexity where you want/need it (handmade libraries help a lot there)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:30 PM
I love this, except "from scraps" sounds pretty bad from a marketing perspective!
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12:30
cc @bvisness let's think of a new term, but the idea is solid
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:31 PM
from hand
AbnerHangry 2
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:31 PM
Isn't "Handmade" already the better spin on "from scraps"?
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:32 PM
True, although handmade connotes from-scratch, historically
12:32
Due to HMH going so fundamental, and a lot of HMN projects going pretty deep
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Abner Coimbre
So you don't build everything from scratch with WhiteBox? Only parts you consider to be core to the main selling point?
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:36 PM
ha, well... just having a look at our list of submodules: - a bunch of internal things that got pulled out - Dear Imgui - very useful for bootstrapping UI, although we may end up doing our own at some point - @herose's command-line argument parser - sheredom/json.h - we only use small quantities of JSON, this is a good simple library and it's not worth my time to make a custom one - mattiasgustavsson's thread library (good bootstrap, may change) - stb (enough said) - tinyfiledialogs - a useful OS-agnostic bootstrap, may change - SQLite - Dan Luu's article on file writing freaked me out a bit and I wanted to make sure we had something that worked reliably - LLVM & Clang - core to the tool, but writing a better full C++ compiler is not really feasible for me... and even if it was we'd have to replicate Clang's functionality
โ˜๐Ÿป 1
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:36 PM
Wanna buy a license to our UI? ๐Ÿ˜‰
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:36 PM
xD
12:37
UI is like 80% of the work
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:37 PM
the third 80%
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:37 PM
yeah
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Andrew (azmr)
ha, well... just having a look at our list of submodules: - a bunch of internal things that got pulled out - Dear Imgui - very useful for bootstrapping UI, although we may end up doing our own at some point - @herose's command-line argument parser - sheredom/json.h - we only use small quantities of JSON, this is a good simple library and it's not worth my time to make a custom one - mattiasgustavsson's thread library (good bootstrap, may change) - stb (enough said) - tinyfiledialogs - a useful OS-agnostic bootstrap, may change - SQLite - Dan Luu's article on file writing freaked me out a bit and I wanted to make sure we had something that worked reliably - LLVM & Clang - core to the tool, but writing a better full C++ compiler is not really feasible for me... and even if it was we'd have to replicate Clang's functionality
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:42 PM
Here's mine for Terminal Click: - @rxi's microui - Heavily extended. - microui_sokol.h - My sokol gfx renderer for microui. This is what lets me compile down to Metal, DirectX, etc. - Sokol (obviously) - stb (enough said) - @Allen4th's OS platform layer. I extended it to support terminal operations. - zig build - Used as a drop-in C/ C++ compiler (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:43 PM
Thank god we hired RXI
โ˜๏ธ 4
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rxi 4
12:43
Sorry, you guys will have to find someone else for your UI needs
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Thank god we hired RXI
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:45 PM
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Andrew (azmr)
on the assumption that people here err towards doing things themselves... I think it's worth paying attention to which components of your product are core to its main selling point and strongly considering using pre-existing components for everything else (edited)
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:30 PM
I think this is the primary tension between handmade and doing business (at least in the for-profit way). If I have a product that I want to ship and I'm willing to go with "good enough" here and "good enough" there to get it done, I have a better chance of ending up with a successful product on time. But if I want to chase down every opportunity to make better components, I could be making it possible for better products to exist in the future, but have a much harder time making that a traditional for-profit business. What does everyone think about this?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:31 PM
Obligatory there's nothing wrong about generalized capitalism and making money.
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:32 PM
I don't think there's anything wrong with making money! I just wish I could make money chasing down the things that I think would be most beneficial, which I often don't see in alignment with making money. (and I know saying that makes me a bad capitalist)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:33 PM
You need to make enough money
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:33 PM
We keep forgetting greed is a real thing
12:33
and a vice
12:33
and a huge reason we're in this mess in the tech industry
12:34
Now that I hang out with other organizers, they think I'm dumb for not getting "free" $20k bags of money from Sony
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:34 PM
Money from a whitehat source is proof that you helped your fellow person
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Allen4th
I don't think there's anything wrong with making money! I just wish I could make money chasing down the things that I think would be most beneficial, which I often don't see in alignment with making money. (and I know saying that makes me a bad capitalist)
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:34 PM
the problem is that if other people don't see the things as valuable, it can't be a business :)
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Allen4th
I think this is the primary tension between handmade and doing business (at least in the for-profit way). If I have a product that I want to ship and I'm willing to go with "good enough" here and "good enough" there to get it done, I have a better chance of ending up with a successful product on time. But if I want to chase down every opportunity to make better components, I could be making it possible for better products to exist in the future, but have a much harder time making that a traditional for-profit business. What does everyone think about this?
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:35 PM
This is a really important question. Working on Happenlance, we thought Box2D would be โ€œgood enoughโ€, but once we built out rollback netcode, box2d fell apart in multiple ways, and took huge engineering effort to fit to our needs. And thatโ€™s actually to do with product success directly, let alone the higher ideals! How do we set up components that help the businessโ€™s success long-term?
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:36 PM
Yes I understand that's the problem! The question is if the motivation is to do the project, rather than to be a business, how do I move forward? How do I use entrepreneurship as a means rather than as the end?
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:38 PM
I really wonder if it's reasonable to expect the technical things like you're working on to ever be a serious business model on their own
12:39
patreon and friends really don't seem to cut it
12:39
obviously I'd love for HMN to help fund such things, but that's just more patreon
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:39 PM
and it will take us a while to get there
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Allen4th
Yes I understand that's the problem! The question is if the motivation is to do the project, rather than to be a business, how do I move forward? How do I use entrepreneurship as a means rather than as the end?
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:39 PM
then you sell your brand
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:39 PM
people can value your brand while not valuing your specific technical thing
12:39
if people don't like your technical thing, and don't like your brand, then you don't deserve their money
12:39
simple as
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bvisness
I really wonder if it's reasonable to expect the technical things like you're working on to ever be a serious business model on their own
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:40 PM
I do too. That's why I'm asking. Applying handmade as a way to make a better business seems to work (JangaFX case in point). What I'm trying to pivot to is can I use the skills of an entrepreneur in any way to make better handmade passion projects?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:41 PM
If its valuable, you can make anything a better project
12:41
assuming better and valuable returns money
12:42
Let me write out what little programming i know if value > 9999 { return lotsofmoney } (edited)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:42 PM
Excellent question. โ€œDiversify your revenue streamsโ€ is the only answer Iโ€™ve heard, and itโ€™s not a great one! Patreon, kickstarter, publisher, govโ€™t grants, YouTube, Twitch, etcโ€ฆ itโ€™s a daunting amount of work.
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demetrispanos
then you sell your brand
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:44 PM
what might a "brand" look like in this context? I don't really follow
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:45 PM
You
12:45
Think John Carmack
12:45
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:45 PM
okay, fair
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bvisness
what might a "brand" look like in this context? I don't really follow
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:45 PM
Establish itself as a person whom others value. Content creator/niche microcelebrity/etc. Itโ€™s a big responsibility
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
gonna be the next uncle bob or whatever
12:46
Allen is, I mean >:)
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bvisness
what might a "brand" look like in this context? I don't really follow
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
a practical definition of a brand is all the expectations and values people associate with you, so e.g. with Allen perhaps good programming and working on tools
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
is that a good thing
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
lots of people with brands that don't sell very well too
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:47 PM
people who value allen's brand may be willing to give allen money to be allen
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12:47
even if they never benefit from his work
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
I think part of JangaFX' success is that its tied a bit to me as its face/brand leader thing
12:46
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
I think part of JangaFX' success is that its tied a bit to me as its face/brand leader thing
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:47 PM
you changed your handle for this event didn't you xD
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:47 PM
Yes
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:47 PM
what happened to separate business from personal stuff ๐Ÿ˜›
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
This is business ๐Ÿ˜„
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
I think Randy set himself up very well to do that! It can be very compelling when done right.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:46 PM
Being a content creator is almost a full-time job. I interviewed Randy recently (Professor Rework) and he burned out even though he amassed ~300k YouTube subscribers and could make videos that pulled in 1.1M views
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
He even admitted that making videos about a feature he added took significantly longer than actually adding that feature.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
So this is a legitimate concern. Not trying to say @Allen4th shouldn't try being a content creator celebrity, but clearly there's a danger to be aware of here
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
Straddling the product-builder/content-creator line is the hardest needle to thread that I know of
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
I streamed 50 hours a week working on my game, and it's one of the major reasons it got the attention it got early on.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:51 PM
If I had to throw regular Youtube videos in the mix, that would have been crazy.
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demetrispanos
people who value allen's brand may be willing to give allen money to be allen
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
at what scale though. there's not really enough of an infrastructure and "userbase" to support something like that to a meaningful degree is there? unless you're doing Renderdoc or dear imgui or something - already bankrolled by big companies to some extent (edited)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:49 PM
well, there was that minecraft shaders guy for example
12:49
but I agree it's hard
12:49
because making a brand is work
12:49
and it's work that technical people on average aren't primed to do
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Allen4th
I do to. That's why I'm asking. Applying handmade as a way to make a better business seems to work (JengaFX case in point). What I'm trying to pivot to is can I use the skills of an entrepreneur in any way to make better handmade passion projects?
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:48 PM
I believe this is what @Nick Seavert - JangaFX mentioned about the "other half" of the problem. One needs to market, promote, have an ego if you will about your passion project publicly. Clearly state the value proposition and demonstrate it. I'm curious how JangaFX went from zero to one. It was basically a passion project with the beginning $300. Who was the first customer and how did you attract them?
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
First customer was a guy who randomly saw my youtube video of a crappy vector field editor i'd made myself
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
no one said this would be easy :P
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
crappy, heh
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
if you want easy go work for FAANG MAANG (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
First customer was a guy who randomly saw my youtube video of a crappy vector field editor i'd made myself
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
there we go
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:50 PM
First customer for EmberGen was a large studio that pre-ordered a few days before we actually released
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:51 PM
Building our email list was so, so integral to our success
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:51 PM
Just aim for making like $100 at first
12:51
Then you can aim for \$1k, then \$10k, then 100k etc
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Building our email list was so, so integral to our success
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:51 PM
may I suggest (hat tip to my friend @simp) zukowski's series on how to market a game, which is actually generally applicable (edited)
12:52
zukowski also has a discord
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:52 PM
โ˜ We followed this model closely for Happenlance starting out.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Building our email list was so, so integral to our success
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:54 PM
Can you elaborate on what this means? I hear people say it a lot. What's an email list, how do you build it, and what does it do for you?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:54 PM
you need zukowski's (free) introduction
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simp (audience) Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
Re zukowski
12:58
Bread and butter
12:58
Do yourself a favor and watch this classic (edited)
13:00
This one is also really fascinating
13:01
The section where he talks about how indie romance book authors create a marketing language is so crazy interesting (edited)
13:03
The tangent is 28 mins in
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:52 PM
working out what you can make easy for yourself do to promote yourself/your product regularly is important
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:53 PM
Yes, once again, you can use your programming skills for this.
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:53 PM
I find all this interesting. The "brand" approach is the only real idea I've had for achieving what I'm looking to achieve. I sort of expected ya'll would say there was a much better route, and instead it sounds like you're thinking the same thing.
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 12:54 PM
I feel like I should go back and look at the history of NextJS, because it has absolutely dominated the JS world and Vercel is now a major player in tech, at least for now
12:55
(this is not an endorsement of NextJS, far from it)
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Abner Coimbre
Yes, once again, you can use your programming skills for this.
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:53 PM
dangerous
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:53 PM
Haha well. When Handmade Seattle approaches, I use systemd to buffer up tweets that get scheduled out randomly through the week.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:54 PM
obligatory XKCD 'Automating' comes from the roots 'auto-' meaning 'self-', and 'mating', meaning 'screwing'.
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:55 PM
Yes keep it trivial. Don't over optimize. What's the simplest technical choices you can make to automate something
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Zeanith
I believe this is what @Nick Seavert - JangaFX mentioned about the "other half" of the problem. One needs to market, promote, have an ego if you will about your passion project publicly. Clearly state the value proposition and demonstrate it. I'm curious how JangaFX went from zero to one. It was basically a passion project with the beginning $300. Who was the first customer and how did you attract them?
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:54 PM
Also its important to charge what you're worth. We were selling VectorayGen back in the day for \$199 to studios. When we raised the price to like \$700 we immediately started getting sales from large studios as they then figured it was a valuable product
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:55 PM
what's VectorayGen? Weird name
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:55 PM
There's a story behind it. Met a guy in whole foods bread isle. We talked and i went to his office. I toured his software company office and he said he wanted to see my website. He saw my pricing, told me to open my wallet. I did, no money in it. He said you see your pricing? You see your wallet? Now you know why you're broke.
philli47Chad 1
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:56 PM
dammit! I knew being gluten-free was costing me opportunities!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX
Also its important to charge what you're worth. We were selling VectorayGen back in the day for \$199 to studios. When we raised the price to like \$700 we immediately started getting sales from large studios as they then figured it was a valuable product
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 12:55 PM
yeah pricing is something we haven't gone into much, and it's something of a dark art
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:56 PM
in my opinion a lot of pricing angst is actually sales angst, and the latter is much more amenable to systems thinking
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Allen4th
I find all this interesting. The "brand" approach is the only real idea I've had for achieving what I'm looking to achieve. I sort of expected ya'll would say there was a much better route, and instead it sounds like you're thinking the same thing.
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:56 PM
well its not necessarily the only way. @demetrispanos mentioned angel investing in people he knew, although to do that I'm assuming you have to formalize the business proposition a lot more than just having a passion project. I believe everyone is advising the safer route.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:56 PM
if you are good at selling your thing, you will have much less ambiguity about the price
12:57
and there are mechanistic ways to become good at selling
12:57
or at least good-enough
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:57 PM
Miles brought to my attention recently a formalization of roughly what we had in mind prior to release of our product https://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccasadwick/2020/06/22/how-to-price-products/?sh=6c2424c155c7
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Allen4th
Can you elaborate on what this means? I hear people say it a lot. What's an email list, how do you build it, and what does it do for you?
Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:57 PM
We hyped the shit out of EmberGen. "Wow look at this REAL TIME fluid simulation! This is going to blow your minds. Learn more at our website. People go to website and see a form to sign up to get an early access invite when its ready". 6,000+ people signed up over 5 or 6 months.
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 12:57 PM
We launched EmberGen and made $6k in a few hours which to us was absolutely insane at the time (edited)
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:57 PM
If you sell to businesses in particular you'll find they can be quite rational about (high) pricing, if you're persistent and confident enough. Individuals are much trickier
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
yes another excellent point, businesses can be persuaded with "spreadsheet logic"
12:58
"you spend \$100 on this, but my product costs \$50 and solves the problem better, so I'm really just handing you free money and making your life better"
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mv Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
\$1 to a business is not the same as \$1 to an individual, for a lot of reasons
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Andrew (azmr)
yeah pricing is something we haven't gone into much, and it's something of a dark art
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
I asked a question about pricing to the creators of Basecamp and Hey Mail! They answer it here (you can Ctrl+F for Abner): https://www.rework.fm/sell-your-by-products-season-2/
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 01:00 PM
One of the answers I liked: "Iโ€™d say one heuristic we used in the early days, in particular, was this, would I pay for it? Would I pull out my credit card if someone else was offering this product?" โ˜๏ธ You'd be surprised how far this gets you. (edited)
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 01:01 PM
It can be tricky to get yourself out of the owner mindset and back to being a customer, but it's possible. (And just like anything else, you can change the price later) (edited)
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demetrispanos
"you spend \$100 on this, but my product costs \$50 and solves the problem better, so I'm really just handing you free money and making your life better"
mv Oct 01, 2022 12:59 PM
that's like 1 hour saved
12:59
if you're cheap
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 12:59 PM
I used placeholder numbers :)
12:59
but yes
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Zeanith
well its not necessarily the only way. @demetrispanos mentioned angel investing in people he knew, although to do that I'm assuming you have to formalize the business proposition a lot more than just having a passion project. I believe everyone is advising the safer route.
Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
I was trying to ask "what do you do when you don't see how to generate income?" expecting advice on how to monetize things that don't seem easy to monetize. Instead everyone said, "if you must do such a project, you'll need a brand." Suggesting to me that my intuition that these things can't be income generators was right after all.
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 12:58 PM
ah ok I understand now. Yea that is fair to conclude.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 12:59 PM
There may have been a misinterpretation that it was a given that the product couldn't be monetizable -- I still suspect there's a lot of ways to sell products that are hard to market, but it just takes a lot more work and probably product-specific advice.
13:00
Indie games were hard to market prior to Steam!
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 01:00 PM
For programmers a good way to think about it is: Is it cheaper to buy your product than to build it themselves (edited)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:00 PM
as I'm sure you know, programmers absolutely loathe this frame :P
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mv Oct 01, 2022 01:00 PM
If your tool saves a VFX artist 100s of hours a year in waiting and wasted time, and improves productivity and throughput of said artist, is your tool worth \$20/month or \$200/year?
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mv Oct 01, 2022 01:03 PM
The answer here is clearly different whether you're an individual or a business, even if the raw metrics might overlap (in terms of raw value/usefulness). You can easily convince a company to pay \$2000/year or more, whereas an individual might be a hard sell for \$200/year
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Allen4th
I was trying to ask "what do you do when you don't see how to generate income?" expecting advice on how to monetize things that don't seem easy to monetize. Instead everyone said, "if you must do such a project, you'll need a brand." Suggesting to me that my intuition that these things can't be income generators was right after all.
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:01 PM
I suspect do need some side thing to fund the uncertain / technical things. Heck, tons of foundational technology came out of Bell Labs, as telecommunications research. So maybe a company + research, maybe a brand...
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demetrispanos
and there are mechanistic ways to become good at selling
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:02 PM
any particular pointers, sensei?
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:02 PM
maybe a government... ๐Ÿ™ƒ (edited)
dealWithRion 1
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:02 PM
I have a long book list, let me dig a few up, but the top recommendation is definitely question based selling also - ca$hvertising (yes the name is horrible, deal with it) - one sentence persuasion course - NO BS price strategy - priceless: the myth of fair value - breakthrough advertising - to sell is human - crossing the chasm (edited)
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Nick Seavert - JangaFX Oct 01, 2022 01:04 PM
Anyway, that's a wrap for me. I have to head out now. If anyone ever wants to chat just DM me ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for putting this together!
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:05 PM
THANK YOU for being here! It's been so fascinating to hear from you
13:05
it is probably nearing time to wind this down, but I don't want to interrupt these last threads of conversation now either
13:06
if there are any final topics the participants want to bring up, or if people in the audience have any final points they'd like to address, now is the time
13:06
ca$hvertising (yes the name is horrible, deal with it)
I refuse
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:06 PM
Personally I am a bit disappointed that I don't have a good answer for Allen's question, since I think a lot of HMN people consider it pretty important
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:07 PM
the answer is just that you don't always deserve people's money (edited)
13:07
and you need to face that reality
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:07 PM
coming back round to make some general shots at the overarching topic again: I think the important aspect of "Handmade" is understanding the substrate you're working with. With programming that's largely understanding the machines and OSs that our software sits upon. For business, a large part is properly understanding the problem you're trying to solve: - who your users are (market segment, attributes, paint points) - what task they're trying to accomplish - what environment/context they're working in (with all the assumptions, restrictions and affordances that come along with that) A major difference is that sales & marketing are much fuzzier problem-spaces than programming
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:07 PM
That's taking as given that the product doesn't deliver value to an audience, not just that it's hard to make that audience aware of the product
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demetrispanos
and you need to face that reality
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:07 PM
I think phillip is right though that this is a central question for much of the handmade audience
13:07
within our framing of "software quality", how do we actually make stuff happen (edited)
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:08 PM
@demetrispanos I think you're dismissing out of hand the possibility to convert an idea into a business, and shutting down my attempt to start a discussion about how to do so. But maybe that was a bit off topic for this fishbowl - I don't know.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:08 PM
I am definitely not, and I have done that many times before
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:08 PM
if no solution, what's the workaround
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:08 PM
but not every idea deserves that fate
13:08
this is my point (edited)
13:08
you can't just say "how do I make an idea a business"
13:08
not any more than you can say "how do I turn ingredients into bread"
13:08
not all ingredients can become bread
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:09 PM
Okay, but I'm saying "I have an idea for a project that will be useful to a lot of people" is that not specific enough?
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:09 PM
if it's useful to a lot of people then why not ask them to pay you?
13:09
if they won't pay you, how do you explain that?
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:10 PM
That they don't know it exists -- the challenge is bridging that gap
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:10 PM
ok if the problem is just awareness then the solution is marketing
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:10 PM
I don't know, that's what I would like to talk about.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:10 PM
(good) marketing is the process of making people realize they would like to pay you
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:11 PM
I think some of the projects that would be useful to people are most useful to people who don't have a lot of spare money. The people who could and would spend a lot on it might be able to make it into a business, but then most of the value of the project isn't realized.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:11 PM
projects that would be useful to people are most useful to people who don't have a lot of spare money
this is not a business
13:12
I swear I am not trying to be a jerk, I'm trying to give you real from-the-actual-world advice
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:12 PM
Additionally, there are certain types of projects for which a price tag inherently decreases the value of the project. (Core tool chain stuff being the example I brought up earlier)
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:12 PM
perhaps you can use the no-spare-money-people as a marketing force
13:12
but somehow you need to get someone who has enough spare money to give you some of it
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:12 PM
definitionally, people with no spare money cannot give you any
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:12 PM
A few decades ago, a price tag on a toolchain was considered normal!
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demetrispanos
perhaps you can use the no-spare-money-people as a marketing force
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:12 PM
see: giving your product away to students for free
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:13 PM
see also: "oh no, people are pirating our precious Photoshop ๐Ÿ‘€" (edited)
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demetrispanos
definitionally, people with no spare money cannot give you any
mv Oct 01, 2022 01:14 PM
Directly. Potentially indirect value
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:14 PM
yes see below re: marketing force :)
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:14 PM
If Clang has eaten the toolchain space then, for example, some toolchain writers will seek corporate sponsorships and do B2B marketing, or crowdfund on GitHub Sponsors like the Mold author Rui Ueyama is currently doing.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:15 PM
In Mold's case, marketing might happen on Hacker News. But, as you can tell it's really tricky, since you have to be inventive in project-specific ways.
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:14 PM
you need to persuade someone to give you money, and I don't think it has to be your direct users - like in the Bell Labs example from before, presumably Bell thought the research was worth paying for, in the Zig example, corporate sponsors feel it's worth paying for (if just altruistically)
13:15
core toolchain stuff is definitely a tough sell in a world where everything is free, but there has to be a value proposition to someone...
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:15 PM
Well not just students, the Reaper DAW has trail period but clearly states it is not free software, but isnt overbearing on this.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:16 PM
I realize I may come across as dour here but I really think programmers have a huge blind spot on this topic
13:16
if you were playing a game and you needed in-game money, you would go to the places that have money drops
13:16
this is so obvious that I sound dumb mentioning it
13:16
and yet many people struggle to apply this kind of thinking to product/business/marketing thinking
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:23 PM
also, as attractive as might be to say that handmade devs are just working on things that don't make money, there are incidental-complexity reasons that some institutions are biased against handmade e.g. game publishers trend against funding custom-engine games because they don't hire talent who can help your studio build anything other than unity/unreal games, and they don't buy QA or testing solutions that work for anything other than unity/unreal games and yet, custom engines do not per se make less, although the evidence is hard to collect (edited)
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:17 PM
@Allen4th could you give a more concrete example as a hypothetical? I think no one is saying anything you were not aware of, and your point is more specific.
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:18 PM
@Zeanith Sure. A more concrete example of what exactly? The sort of projects that I have in mind?
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:19 PM
yes
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:21 PM
Okay, so one big problem I have observed is that much of the toolchain on both Windows and Unix environments is either poorly documented because the developers dropped the ball (Windows) or highly over documented because of a long history of legacy and over generality (Unix). This makes things like binary analysis, writing assemblers, disassemblers, linkers, etc a huge dark art. Fixing this is a lot of work (costs $) but I'm not sure who would pay for it. The benefit would be that lots of other parts of the tool chain could be built more efficiently, people could learn this stuff from clearer resources and come up with new innovative projects, etc. But who in this system would pay for that work? (edited)
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Allen4th
Okay, so one big problem I have observed is that much of the toolchain on both Windows and Unix environments is either poorly documented because the developers dropped the ball (Windows) or highly over documented because of a long history of legacy and over generality (Unix). This makes things like binary analysis, writing assemblers, disassemblers, linkers, etc a huge dark art. Fixing this is a lot of work (costs $) but I'm not sure who would pay for it. The benefit would be that lots of other parts of the tool chain could be built more efficiently, people could learn this stuff from clearer resources and come up with new innovative projects, etc. But who in this system would pay for that work? (edited)
Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:24 PM
in the same way some open source devs have a "crowdpay for an upcoming feature", you could do a "crowdpay for documenting X". The payment acts both as a voting mechanism for what people want, and you can have a threshold for how much you're willing to do the thing for. if people aren't willing to pay for it then it may not be worthwhile... (edited)
brain 1
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Allen4th
Okay, so one big problem I have observed is that much of the toolchain on both Windows and Unix environments is either poorly documented because the developers dropped the ball (Windows) or highly over documented because of a long history of legacy and over generality (Unix). This makes things like binary analysis, writing assemblers, disassemblers, linkers, etc a huge dark art. Fixing this is a lot of work (costs $) but I'm not sure who would pay for it. The benefit would be that lots of other parts of the tool chain could be built more efficiently, people could learn this stuff from clearer resources and come up with new innovative projects, etc. But who in this system would pay for that work? (edited)
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:24 PM
this sounds, to me, like something best done within some large organization that can take risks on long time scales
13:24
when the benefits are mainly long term, and accrue to other workers, and they are hard to measure, then it's hard to make it transactional
13:25
how much would you give me right now if I told you I could, maybe, make a friend of yours 10% more productive 5 years from now?
13:25
in some sense that's a large value, 10% of an engineer's productivity
13:25
on the other hand, I assume you will not give me any money on this basis
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:25 PM
Certainly not more than say $20.
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Allen4th
Okay, so one big problem I have observed is that much of the toolchain on both Windows and Unix environments is either poorly documented because the developers dropped the ball (Windows) or highly over documented because of a long history of legacy and over generality (Unix). This makes things like binary analysis, writing assemblers, disassemblers, linkers, etc a huge dark art. Fixing this is a lot of work (costs $) but I'm not sure who would pay for it. The benefit would be that lots of other parts of the tool chain could be built more efficiently, people could learn this stuff from clearer resources and come up with new innovative projects, etc. But who in this system would pay for that work? (edited)
philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:26 PM
to some extent, Jon Blow is trying to establish a non-crappy toolchain via the new programming language for games, but sadly that's sort of an angel-investment on the part of the company! ๐Ÿ˜ฐ
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:26 PM
But consider the best case for Allen's proposition. You empower an entire generation of developers to be more productive with a not necessarily lower barrier to entry, but a better defined one.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:27 PM
Dogfooding the better product like Thekla plans to do might be another business strategy, but it necessitates two products at once.
13:27
I think @cloin is going to be doing that with his profiler profile trace viewer + profile trace emitter. (edited)
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cloin (audience) Oct 01, 2022 02:18 PM
Vaguely responding here to @philliptrudeau's poke here, because it's topical. At least in theory, there's a bunch of different ways to crack open a market and hopefully make it monetizable. My rough gameplan is to ship 2 products eventually, one that runs natively, supports more memory / bigger files, etc for $$$, and the web one, for free. The market is already saturated with free tools, but they're all garbage. I have to win over the hearts and minds of the droves of chrome://tracing / perfetto users. I suspect there are tons of people out there that have never even heard of chrome://tracing and hadn't considered doing serious profiling before, that would be totally responsive if the process was easy enough. Most of my users will probably never pay for my thing though, and that's ok. In my mind, even if it winds up just being a good publicity stunt / user awareness move, it's a win for me.
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:27 PM
bad documentation has a visceral frustration that devs have experienced at one point or another... if you know you're going to tackle a problem that would involve a particular poorly-documented API, I'd probably be willing to pay something to improve that experience
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:27 PM
Like that has ramifications way further than the toolchain or documentation in question. I dont even know how you put a price on that.
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:28 PM
the benefits are obvious in the general sense but I wouldn't pay for it except for, essentially, philanthropic reasons
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Zeanith
But consider the best case for Allen's proposition. You empower an entire generation of developers to be more productive with a not necessarily lower barrier to entry, but a better defined one.
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:28 PM
paul graham has a famous essay "where there's muck there's brass", in which he says (among other things) that things like programming languages are natural non-businesses because you have too many people willing to do them for free (edited)
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:28 PM
The reason I want to find another way, outside of large organizations, is that what we're getting now is the result of leaving it up them. This is that timeline.
๐Ÿ˜ญ 1
13:28
It may not be a problem that can be solved, but it seems to me like one that's worth trying to solve. Hence why I'm asking probably naive questions.
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philliptrudeau
Dogfooding the better product like Thekla plans to do might be another business strategy, but it necessitates two products at once.
Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 01:29 PM
Quick note: AFAICT Jon self-funds so much of his work, to hire help etc. and then raises capital from wealthy friends who trust Jon to do whatever. However, it does sound like @Allen4th is working on a budget and savings so there should be some resources there. (edited)
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:30 PM
I alluded to an HMN nonprofit in #fishbowl-audience, and indeed I would love to someday fund this kind of thing as essentially charity - and get funds coming in by marketing the Handmade brand (edited)
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Allen4th
It may not be a problem that can be solved, but it seems to me like one that's worth trying to solve. Hence why I'm asking probably naive questions.
demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:30 PM
I think it's very good for people to ask "is it possible to build a flying machine", but those people need to understand gravity and aerodynamics to do so
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Allen4th
It may not be a problem that can be solved, but it seems to me like one that's worth trying to solve. Hence why I'm asking probably naive questions.
Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:30 PM
I think a real world example of this is Handmade Hero. No way was that worth Casey's time but it spawned this entire community, although that was marketed the traditional way.
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demetrispanos Oct 01, 2022 01:30 PM
"why will someone pay you" and "how will they know they want to pay you" are the "gravity" and "aerodynamics" of making something a business
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:31 PM
the product and the marketing... ๐Ÿค” (edited)
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:32 PM
In the spirit of winding things down soon, my biggest hope for the handmade community and entrepreneurship, is that we do find new solutions (i.e. business models) for making these high quality fundamental tools. (edited)
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:33 PM
I would certainly love to. We need that kind of work to happen.
13:34
As Allen mentioned though, it's probably time to wrap up. Thank you all SO MUCH for being here today! I had a wonderful time just spectating and soaking up information. I'll be pondering this stuff for a while.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:35 PM
I think, among existing solutions, there are already several balances that a person can strike -- B2B vs B2C, crowdfunder vs. investment vs. bootstrapper, product-builder vs. content-creator -- that give handmade devs a lot of freedom, so it's a very promising space (edited)
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:35 PM
For those who aren't aware, we have a #business-dev channel dedicated to this sort of conversation. If any of you are interested in continuing to discuss this topic, that would be a great place to do so.
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philliptrudeau Oct 01, 2022 01:35 PM
Super honoured to be here! Thanks everyone ๐Ÿ™
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:35 PM
And we'll leave #fishbowl-audience open for a good bit too.
13:35
I know we just barely scratched the surface of this subject today. Maybe we can revisit it at some point in the future.
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:36 PM
Thanks for organizing this @bvisness and thanks everyone for being a part of this discussion. Happy we explored this topic, it lit a fire in me at least ๐Ÿ˜†
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 01:36 PM
This felt like an explosion of bottled-up feelings about entrepreneurship and running a business ๐Ÿ™‚
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13:37
Much needed. Agreed we only scratched the surface but got solid nuggets of wisdom
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Zeanith Oct 01, 2022 01:37 PM
definitely need to come back to this in some way
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Abner Coimbre Oct 01, 2022 01:37 PM
Thanks for organizing @bvisness! And for the suggestion to do this @Zeanith
handmadeThumbsUp 1
13:38
Happy to have contributed something
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Allen4th Oct 01, 2022 01:38 PM
This was very interesting, thanks @bvisness !
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:39 PM
thanks everyone - lots of interesting things raised... I'm off to get some more books ๐Ÿ˜„ Cheers for organising it @bvisness and for the suggestion @Zeanith
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Andrew (azmr) Oct 01, 2022 01:40 PM
(and thanks for inviting me! โค๏ธ )
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bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:40 PM
Of course, happy to do it, and thank you all again.
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Original message was deleted or could not be loaded.
bvisness Oct 01, 2022 01:42 PM
Pinned a message.
13:42
For future readers, the top of the conversation has been pinned, and here is a link for convenience: https://discord.com/channels/239737791225790464/1025816669450416138/1025816855417475082
13:43
Thank you all for reading!