Episode 32: Designing for Startups w/Jane Portman

This Episode Sponsored By:
90-Day Product Goal Framework
Are you tired of failing to meet long term goals as a product creator? Now there’s a system to help keep you on track and on task as you launch your own products – more details


In this episode, Jane Portman of UIBreakfast.com talks about how she helps founders level-up their UI game, shares how she leveled-up her consultancy, and gives good advice to those of us looking to launch a web app.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • The importance of launching to the right audience
  • Why design templates are actually OK
  • The challenges of managing a team
  • The 2 design stages every Saas app goes through
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 Show Notes:
@uibreakfast – Jane on Twitter
The UI Audit – A book by Jane
Mastering App Presentation – another book by Jane
Fundamental UI Design E-Course – authored by Jane, offered by InVision
Authority
Joanna Wiebe – creator of Airstory
Amy Hoy – creator of 30×500
Rob Walling – GetDrip and HitTail
Egghead.io
Brennan Dunn
MicroConf

At age 16, Jane was a typical student, interested in math & physics. After winning a scholarship and becoming an exchange student in South Carolina, Jane studied design and never looked back. Upon returning to Russia, she started working in an agency. Over the next 8 years she honed her skills while working up from Junior Designer to Creative Director and eventually began to freelance, designing for startups. She shares a bit about why perfectionism is more tolerable in agency life than startup life.

Jane shares the reason why she left the agency, and what made her decide to “conquer the US market” as a freelancer designing for startups. She also talks about some of limitations she encountered working as a freelancer on oDesk, and the three things she did to “level-up” her work:

1) Changed title to “consultant”
2) Wrote a book
3) Set a minimum rate of $95/hour

To build authority, she launched first book to start attracting clients. She interviewed her “personal stars” for the book, to start making contacts. Jane talks about launching to a small list, and what the very valuable primary payoff of that first book was (hint” it wasn’t the money).

“Being not-pretty is not a big obstacle to making money online. Seriously.”

To arrive at her current positioning as a UI/UX consultant designing for startups, Jane used the Sales Safari technique, which was intensive but very productive. Jane found that Founders don’t always prioritize design, they have so many other things to worry about.

We talk a bit about The UI Audit, Janes third book and she tells us how this book served to scalably distill her consulting knowledge and spare her personal time. She also explains how this fits into a “product ladder” model.

Not every founder is able to prioritize design, for reasons on finance or exigency. It’s not something that most founders can do themselves, either. Jane found that her client work was primarily related to designing for startups – specifically, bootstrapped Saas founders. It’s a perfect nice for her because it’s between a big corporation and VC-funded founders. Jane says she fell in love with the community at MicroConf. We talk about the two features Jane looks for in an ideal client.

Jane & I talk a bit about the proper role of using templated designs when designing for startups, and when/how/why to invest in a proper designer.

Jane talks about the skills required to know when it’s time to seek expert help, when it’s time to hire team members, and when it’s time to re-evaluate and fire them – “You never regret that you fired someone too early, but you sure regret that you fired someone too late.”

Episode 30: MVPs and Product Validation w/Ian Lawson

This Episode Sponsored By:

Mastering Business Email
Don’t let unprofessional emails cost you business or harm your reputation – simple guidelines to help you write better, more professional emails
Special offer for Chasing Product listeners in this episode – more details


Ian Lawson from Awmous and SlickPlan joins us today. As an agency owner turned product-creator, Ian has plenty to tell us about the importance of an MVP, and the surprise product validation that launched his product.

In this episode, Ian talks about being a self-professed art nerd, starting his own interactive studio, and how he went about deciding what product to create.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • The importance of avoiding tech/design debt
  • How to capitalize on a business accident
  • How to plan for growth
Hi there! To help Chasing Product grow, please take a moment to visit iTunes and give the show a 5-star rating. Thanks!

 Show Notes:

Awmous – Ians newest venture
SlickPlan – Create a beautiful site map in minutes
Honeypot – Simple and intuitive web app that simplifies HR tasks
Startupland
Basecamp
Lean UX
Remote: Office Not Required

Episode 25: Build Something Small, Build Something Now w/Justin Jackson

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mijustin-start-small
Justin Jackson joins the show today. From hacking on a Vic 20 to releasing multiple products and podcasts, Justin has done a lot! More importantly, he’s figured out a lot about how to make small products work.

In this episode, we talk about Justin’s experience with audience selection, message amplification, getting traction with small products, and more.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • why you should build something small, NOW
  • why you should hang out with your audience every day
  • how to look for patterns to tailor products around
  • how to start with info-products without jumping the gun

 Show Notes:
Marketing for Developers – A guide to marketing your software, apps, and digital products
Product People Club – Daily stand-ups and community for solopreneurs
Amplification – Creating great content isn’t enough; to get it seen by thousands, you need amplification.
Product Hunt Handbook – Learn how to effectively launch your own product on Product Hunt.
Build & Launch – Build and launch your own product
Product People Podcast – A podcast focused on great products and the people who make them
Justin Jackson on Twitter

James Altucher (remember the 1% rule!)
Getting Real, 37signals
Jason Fried
Designer news
Designer subreddit

Episode 13: Organic Product Development w/Josh Pigford

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Josh Pigford, serial maker of things, joins me for this episode.  Josh has a wonderfully diverse portfolio of projects.  Starting as a designer and gradually transitioning into launching web products, Josh has had both successes and failures as a founder.  We talk about some freelancing issues, how to do organic product development, and the exigencies of freelancing for equity.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • What prompted Josh to make the leap to products
  • The importance of filling your skill gaps when you can’t outsource
  • The most accessible go-to marketing techniques Josh has used
  • Organic product development vs plucking a product idea from thin air

Temper.io – Better Customer Service Over Time; measures how your customers feel about your business so you know what to improve
PopSurvey – Create Surveys People Want to Take; PopSurveys are beautiful, easy to create and more importantly, fun to take
Baremetrics – SaaS Analytics for Stripe
PugSpot – The spot for pugs!
Tiny Farmstead – Learning how to farm in the ‘burbs!

Fugitive Toys – an Urban Vinyl Toy Store
Ruby on Rails
Flippa
The Apple Blog – Started by Josh, later acquired by GigaOm
Track the Pack – Universal package-tracking app that Josh had to shutter
Track the Pack Post-Mortem – fantastic account of the story behind Josh shutting down his app
Package Fox – Stop losing money on late shipments
Rovio – creator of Angry Birds
Entrepornography – the overhyped productivity BS foisted on the startup community by the media
SmallSpec – Christopher’s product-in-development. Join the launch list!

The organic product development idea is interesting to me, as someone who has struggled to come up with product ideas out of the blue.  There are probably more examples of organic product development out there, where a founder distills a product from an existing app or starts out with a pain point to solve.  But there are also a lot of “if you build it they will come” scenarios playing out, and those often end in ters for the founder in question.

Josh also shares some of his biggest regrets about product development, and three action items for aspiring bootstrappers.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Episode 4: Software Product Marketing & Design w/Brian Casel

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Ready for more talk about bootstrapping? Brian Casel joins us for the 4th episode.  We talk about Brian’s experience developing and releasing 2 Saas apps (and more!). We also get to cover some practical aspects of keeping on track through a bootstrapped product launch. As if that weren’t enough, Brian and I also cover some good nuts-and-bolts material regarding software product marketing & design, planning your work, and more.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • how Brian’s new book can help bootstrappers understand – and benefit from – the marriage of software product marketing & design,
  • the importance of planning your work and patience,
  • allowing yourself to develop as a professional before going out on your own,
  • why copywriting is absolutely critical to a bootstrapper
  • the new direction Brian plans for his freelancing work

Brian also shares 3 concrete action items that he recommends to aspiring bootstrappers looking to move measurably closer to their own bootstrapped product launch (and dovetail with your software product marketing needs).

Speaking as an aspiring bootstrapper, I found Brian’s interview answers really valuable.  In particular, Brian’s dedication to planning his goals out ahead of time really speaks to me.  This is a practice I already use with my consulting projects, and for some odd reason I haven’t fully applied this practice to my product endeavors.  Have you?

Design for Conversions – Brian’s new book about software product marketing & design
ThemeJam – Brian’s first bootstrapped product business; premium WP/e-mail/website themes
Casjam.com – Brian’s personal blog
RestuarantEngine – Brian’s bootstrapped product; a Saas site-builder for restaurants
SweetProcess – Brian’s other bootstrapped product; a Saas app for documenting your procedures and systemizing your business

FreelanceSwitch – Freelance Advice and Freelance Jobs
Mixergy – Learn from proven entrepreneurs
Public Beta – an online learning community for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs
StartupsForTheRestOfUs – Rob Walling’s bootstrapper podcast
Adii Ienaar – co-founder of WooThemes
StudioPress – Premium WP themes
Jason Shuller – Creator of Press75
Evernote
The T-Shaped Web Marketer (via Moz)
The Cascading To-Do List (how to get BIG things done) – how Brian makes things happen with his work
SmallSpec – Christopher’s bootstrapped product for painless functional specs; join the launch list