What is Dev to Founder?
I am Stefanni and Dev to Founder is a new project where I share my trajectory from being a developer to bootstrapping a business for the first time!
From never having sold anything online to getting my first paying customers.
Although I am sharing my lessons to help you with my experience, it’s also a public commitment to push myself to ship things. Let’s get started!
On today’s post I tell you why I left my full time job as a Software Developer to start my founder journey, what I’ve been doing, and my goals for 2021. Happy new year, btw!
First things first, I left my full time job in December after saving enough to dedicate my time to my projects.
Let’s talk about my projects, then.
The Plant-Based Diet Club
In September 2020 I started a newsletter on Substack called The Plant-Based Diet Club, where I share recipes and tips to help you eat more plants.
I’ve been eating a whole food plant-based diet for more than one year and it was one of the best decisions in my life.
Talking about the numbers, I currently have 52 subscribers and 6 published posts so far. I haven’t promoted it as it deserves it.
Why? Because up until now I was mostly interested in building a writing habit and creating a routine that would allow me to be consistent.
I chose Substack because I wanted something quick to allow me to focus on validating the idea. I do not recommend trying to spend weeks “Researching”. That’s procrastination.
Now that the newsletter has more than 50 subscribers, my focus is to double my subscribers by February.
And how am I going to do that? By launching an Email Course at the end of January. That was an idea from Monica Lent (thanks, Monica!).
So that’s my number one project. I’m really passionate about it and it’s like my baby.
My second project is the 12xstartup challenge.
I officially joined it in November. Although I haven’t launched any products or services, I have learned some valuable lessons that took me some time to fully understand. It includes personal issues that I am happy to have managed with Therapy.
Here they are:
Number one: Anyone that knows how to code or at least use a no-code tool can launch a product.
Building a solution for a real problem, knowing who you’re building for, and that there are people willing to pay money for it is a totally different story.
A “business” doesn’t exist without customers.
If you don’t do at least a minimal market research, it’s gonna be like Alex Hillman says: ‘you’re betting’, nothing more.
That’s why I’ve been focusing on doing Market research, creating Educational Content Marketing, and setting up a routine that helps me being consistent and happy about the process.
Saying this may seem like I haven’t done any actual work but I’ve been learning how to validate a problem without writing a single line of code.
As a developer, my initial thinking was “I am going to build different apps, people will find them if I build them”. Wrong. All the ideas that I had were for different audiences, none of them were for an audience I belonged to.
Sitting down and creating an app is easy for me as a developer. This is my comfort zone. However, SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, creating an audience, learning how to sell, shipping products are new things to me.
Building an app without validating the problem is just an excuse to create an app to showcase in your portfolio. Or you have investor’s money to spend. There is absolutely no problem with those scenarios, it’s just not what I am interested in.
And you know what’s funny? I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, participating in communities, all of that, related to Bootstrapping a business for a while. Still, my initial action was to start building random apps for audiences I didn’t even know where they hang out.
It’s tempting because that’s what I do as a developer: I sit down and build apps. But don’t fall into this trap.
Number two: Consume less, do more
If you feel anxious or overwhelmed by the growing resources for your founder journey, I suggest consuming less. Ask yourself: What is the easiest action to be done so I can start? Do it. Learn, adapt, then consume information to help you go to the next step.
I say this because I was subscribed to so many things and I thought I needed to learn everything to start. SEO, Content marketing, facebook ads, reddit, facebook groups, podcasts, blogging, and now tiktok, you name it.
Only when I started putting myself out there with The Plant-Based Diet Club I noticed doing this never-ending research was another form of procrastination for me.
I really like this quote from Bruce Lee:
Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is specifically your own.
Oh, and if you’re scared, that’s a good sign that you’re doing the real thing! And you should be feeling more of that!
I am done “preparing myself” for when the perfect idea falls in my hands. I am ready to do the real thing. And I am not afraid of failing anymore.
Number three: Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.
I will repeat that. “Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development.”
That’s a quote from Jim Rohn, who was an American entrepreneur.
2020 was hard for me and I got in a hard spot. I struggled even getting out of bed for a few months.
I was only able to get out of the negative automatic thoughts cycle and be here today sharing my experience because I started paying for therapy with a specialist.
If you have been in a similar situation, I recommend CBT - Cognitive Behavior Therapy. You can try a coach or a mentor but if you have more serious traumas that need to be addressed first, it won’t help.
Fear, anxiety is normal, in a way. But if you can’t do things, you judge and beat yourself often, you might need to talk to a professional. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Identify what’s stopping you from doing things. That was key for me to start doing things and put myself in a more kind and compassionate mental state.
So where I am at right now?
For The Plant-Based Diet Club, I am finishing the 7-day Plant-Based Diet Email Challenge. Click here to join the wait list!
I am working really hard on this one because my goal is to demystify that a plant-based diet is expensive, time-consuming and not healthy. I also decided to switch from Substack to having a blog and an email list with exclusive content.
My goal is to apply what I’ve been learning in the Blogging for Devs community and Stacking the Bricks courses to create organic traffic to my blog and grow my email list.
At the same time, I really want to do something for the Shopify marketplace. I feel like there is a lot of opportunities there and I want to explore as my first app for the 12xstartup challenge
Shopify merchants are not my audience. However, I think it’s a unique opportunity where the demand is so high that it might be easier to start there. We will see!
I will share here how I am going to find a problem, do market research. These steps might take longer than 1 month but my goal is to build a minimum lovable product as soon as I validate the idea.
Alright, that’s it for the first episode of Dev to Founder!
It’s my first time starting a business and I hope you benefit from it somehow.
We will know if I am going in the right direction soon, wish me luck :)
Next episode I am gonna share my market research findings, choose which problem I will focus on.
Thanks for listening/reading and see you in 2 weeks!