Maker Hunt’s AMA with Sacha Greif from Telescope

Sacha Greif is a designer from Paris that is now living in Osaka, Japan. He’s the creator of Telescpe and also Sidebar: a site + newsletter that gives you the 5 best design links of the day. He has also published Discover Meteor, a book about the Meteor JavaScript framework. Most recently Sacha released Brick by Brick, which is a free guide to building awesome communities.

As usual, we’ll be asking questions throughout the AMA that other community members who couldn’t be here wanted us to ask.

Hey guys. If you’re curious about my background — when I was in junior high I taught myself to build websites and use Photoshop, mostly to use cheesy flame and lens flare effects, did a few freelance web design and flash jobs for friends and family. I then went to university for computer science but discovered computer science didn’t really have anything to do with actually building cool stuff, so decided to become a UI designer instead and now I’m back to coding a lot and writing about programming so I’ve always been somewhat in the middle as you can see ☺! Apart from design and development, other interests include BJJ, MMA, and spending way too much time playing Hearthstone.

Q. I’d be interested in why you’re in Osaka. What does french designer do to end up there? Is it relevant to what you’re currently working on? Do you find the Japanese cultural differences effect your work; do you see inspiration locally? — Miles Burke

I moved here with my wife because she’s doing her PhD here. Being in Japan doesn’t really affect my work since I just work on my own projects anyway — and I don’t really find “inspiration” locally. I find it in my list of GitHub issues ☺

Q. Why did you decide to write Brick by Brick? ( Just finished reading it an hour ago…really good with a lot of actionable material) — Eric Willis

I wrote it for two main reasons. First because I noticed a lot of Telescope users where hitting a brick wall (pun intended) after launching their app. They just didn’t know what to do next. Second, as a way to promote Telescope itself and make sure more people are aware of its existence.

Q. So I read MOST of Brick by Brick (will read it fully & more carefully on my next longer journey)… Do you feel like all of these ProductHunt for Xs (& similar) have a similar chance of attracting a community if they execute better? (Obviously success has to be measured on how big the target audience is…) — Jonas Daniels

It’s really hard to say. Realistically speaking I think most of them won’t attract a community, but they probably do start off with equal chances. It’s just a matter of putting in the work after that. I think Ryan’s work on PH is exemplary in that domain, he and the PH team have just been promoting/improving/tweaking the product non-stop since launch.

Q. You’ve sold over $300,000 worth of copies of Discover Meteor. What non-monetary impact has publishing that book had on your life? — Eric Willis

Probably the biggest non-monetary impact was hearing from so many people who learned Meteor through the book, and becoming a somewhat well-known figure in the Meteor community. It’s pretty cool to meet new people and learn that something you built had an impact on their career.

Q. Do we even want tens & hundreds of ProductHunt for Xs? — Jonas Daniels

I think the answer to that question is the same as “Do we even want tends & hundreds of blogs?” ☺If they’re good, sure, why not?

Q. Why do you think “consumer products are definitely much harder to get right than enterprise products”? — Eric Willis

Well I think if you’re working at a 9-to-5, you just have to meet the needs of one person: your boss. If you’re building an enterprise product, you have maybe a couple hundred customers with pretty similar needs and (hopefully) lots of money, too. But if you’re building a consumer product, you have thousands of customers with different needs, who probably don’t have that much money to spend on your product either.

Big fan since years. We also briefly skyped once. Thanks for the kudos reg. Product Hunt Q. You are quite known for your side projects. What’s your strategy towards side projects. When do you decide to pursue one, when do you decide to stop? Eg Teleport started as an HN sideproject clone afair alsmost side effect of the book — now takes off.
Also what are you currently working on the side? —
Andreas Klinger

I remember! Funny that so many people I know ended up working on Product Hunt (Jonno too). I kinda outlined my philosophy about side projects in these slides:

Basically, try to keep the scope small and well-defined. That doesn’t mean the project can’t be polished or complex, but you’re only allowed to grow it vertically, not horizontally.
I try to get to a point where the project is “done” (in terms of being launchable) as fast as possible, and then I give myself permission to keep working on it until I’m truly happy. But all throughout that polishing phase, I know the project is already viable so I don’t feel pressure to “finish” it or delay it.

Also the book is a side project from Telescope, not the other way around and I just released Brick By Brick so now I’m focusing back on Telescope. Side projects are an awesome tool, but they should be used sparingly to avoid distracting you from your main goal.

Q. How long is your GitHub issue list? — Jonas Daniels

85 open issues right now: https://github.com/TelescopeJS/Telescope/issues

Q. Who are some people who you look up to? I’m a big fan of Des Traynor from Intercom, he’s probably my favourite “product-person” to listen to / watch speak about product development. — Jonas Daniels

I look up to people like Chris Coyier, Sara Soueidan, Manoela Ilic from Codrops, Nathan Barry, Justin Jackson for his beard
Basically people who manage to make a living by being really good at what they do.

Q. What tools do you most frequently use to write, code, and design? — Eric Willis

I use Sublime Text to write, code, and design☺

Q. What was the original problem you were trying to solve when you created Telescope? — Eric Willis

The reason I built Telescope is that I noticed there was no “Hacker News for designers” around (Designer News hadn’t been launched yet). I thought for sure there would be some kind of WordPress-like app I could just fork and run to built it, but there wasn’t. So I decided to build it myself.

Q. Who are some designers that you admire? I love the work that @aprilzero does. He’s an absolutely amazing designer. —Eric Willis

I definitely love @aprilzero’s work. I remember when he was doing funk neon 3D stuff on his Dragonlabs site. Like I said I’m a big fan of Codrops demos too, and Rally Interactive’s Ben Cline.

Oh and Ryan Putnam and Rogie King. Benjamin De Cock too. I can go on.


We really want to thank you for taking the time to do this @SachaGreif. It was kind of a weird timing for the AMA as we’ve been doing all of them at 3PM EST so it was great we could still get this one in and I could ask questions on behalf of the community ☺— Eric Willis

Lots of people requested we get this one up on Medium because they couldn’t be here to attend live. Again, we want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us and also for creating Brick by Brick. We’ve been sharing it with people.

Thanks for the questions everybody!


Next AMAs are with:

Michael Seibel — full-time partner at Y-Combinator 3pm EST March 20th

Meng To — Designer and Author of Design+Code 8pm EST March 20th


Keep an eye out on our Twitter — @MakerHunt for details/updates.

Special thanks to Sacha and everyone who participated. If you’re a maker with a product on ProductHunt, be sure to sign up to participate in the AMAs and connect with others.

Already a member? Get your questions ready for the next AMAs! For any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to: @ericw, @jonas, @remco, @catnoone or @bentossell.

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