Hello everyone, it’s KP. Welcome to the 5th edition of “How I Built This In Public“, a special series that features top founders and creators who’re boldly building their projects, startups and creative ventures in public. My intention is to ask them a consistent set of simple questions and distill insights and lessons so we can all learn from their experiments.
I have been enjoying her "build in public" style content marketing from the get-go.
Without further ado, here’s the full interview. Enjoy :)
“I’m Michelle. I was born and raised in Indonesia and I moved to the US in 2015 for college. I met my 4 other co-founders in CS101 and we’ve been building projects together ever since. After graduating, we decided to quit our day jobs just after 3 months to pursue the startup life full time. We got into Y Combinator and the latest product we’re currently working on is Typedream.”
1. At what point in your startup journey did you begin your “build in public” journey and why?
I started my build in public journey when I started building Typedream (I did not do it when I was building my previous products as I hadn’t heard of it before). As Typedream is a no-code tool and our initial target market were people who built their websites on Notion, I decided to be active on Twitter, follow people in the no-code and Notion space, and I got introduced to Kevon Cheung. I first heard about build in public from him and I thought it was really cool so I started doing it too.
2. What personal / business benefits do you believe you attracted from building in public?
- Raise brand awareness By building in public, not only did I build a personal brand, but people also checked out what I built, so the awareness surrounding my product also increased as an extension.
- Improve products I’ve been building Typedream in public since the idea validation stage. During that stage, as I shared my thought process of coming up with the idea, people contributed to the ideation. When we moved forward to the product development stage, people also contributed by letting us know which features were necessary, how each feature should look like, what features were missing, and other types of feedback. Input from our target audiences allowed us to build a product people want.
3. In the early days, did you have any specific challenges or hesitations on whether you should build in public or not? If so — what were they and how did you overcome them?
Yes, unlike most other founders who are bootstrappers, we’re a venture funded company that has more constraints. However, I still see an immense value from building in public so I decided to still do it and “publicize” the things that I can (I just need to realign with my co-founders on the things I can share in public).
4. Are there any myths or misconceptions about building in public from before that were debunked by your personal experience?
The biggest misconception of building in public is that people are worried that other people will “steal” their idea. From the 8 years of experience that I’ve had building a company, I’ve learned the following things:
- My ideas are never unique. There are 8 billion people in this world and chances are many others have the same idea.
- Success recipe: 10% idea, 90% execution
5. What are your 3 tips for someone who’s just starting their “build in public” journey?
- Do whatever makes you comfortable. If you’re not comfortable with sharing numbers, then don’t do it. You can share other things like how you formulated the idea, your daily efforts in building your product, and more.
- Give, give, give, then take. Don’t start by sharing your journey and expect people to pay attention. Instead, support other build in public founders, share your thoughts, and more until you have enough attention from your niche that if you decide to share your journey, it’ll be in the radar of your community.
- Don’t think too much, just do it. It’s ok not to nail your early efforts - you’re not doomed for life (or for the rest of your journey). You don’t know when your efforts will take off. Most of the time, it’s the random 174th tweet after a series of imperfect 173 tweets. You’ll learn as you go.
6. In your experience, how did the 80-20 rule play out? What few vital activities of BIP do you believe have resulted in high leverage outcomes for you?
It’s true that only around 20% of my build in public activity resulted in 80% of the reward but I do think you cannot just do the 20% - you’ll need to do the 100% for the 20% to matter. Also, for me it’s not the “type of activities” but the “type of contents” that matters.The 20% content types that have resulted in high leverage outcomes for me are the contents that are unique to me and are valuable & inspiring to other people, like:
- How I got into YC
- How an immigrant can build a company in the US
- How I got #1 product of the day, week, and month on Product Hunt
- How to build in public as a venture-backed company
7. How much time do you allocate for building in public on a daily/weekly basis?
Every weekday! I’ve developed a habit to treat Twitter as my journal in which I share whatever I learned/experienced that dayOnce you do it often enough, it’s not hard to not only share your thoughts in public but also make the tweet “interesting”. It’ll be natural for you to write a 1-liner that hooks people
8. How did you stay motivated in the early days when generally you don’t see quick results or super high engagement as you begin building in public?
Being a part of a community with other people who are at approximately the same stage helps a lot as you’ll feel like you’re not alone, you don’t suck, it’s generally hard and it needs time & consistency.
In my early days, I joined Slack/Discord communities like GenZ Mafia. Join KP’s Build In Public Fellowship Slack community!
9. How did you handle copycats while you built in public?
If someone else “steals” your idea and they become more successful, then you’re just speeding up the process of being beaten by that competitor, which is nice because it’s better to fail fast and not waste your time. If someone else decides to build the exact same thing as you do, you can still nail the 90% of the execution.
10. Who are 3 people you would recommend for others to follow in the BIP niche?
Other blog posts and Twitter threads where we can learn more about you/your story?
That’s a wrap for now! Hope you enjoyed this piece.