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Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

I’m experimenting with a new problem evaluation approach. The approach comes from the YCombinator Startup School lectures on YouTube. The problem is a very real one but the market is a bit unclear. Hope you find these thoughts interesting.

The Problem

Overarching problem — people are glued to their devices… particularly their phones. This is intentional + not in the best interest of people.

In the US average time spent on phones and computers is 6h 42mins in 2020. Internet adoption is ~50% of world population and increasing. YoY media use has been growing all but last year but not sure how much more it could grow since it’s already almost all waking hours. …

The world is full of opportunities to build tools to help creative people be “more creative more of the time”.

Let’s look at some of the academic literature on creativity and creativity tools and get a birds’ eye view of the field.

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Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash


What is creativity and where does it come from?

A starting place is with personal characteristics. According to Doris Shallcross, creative people exhibit —

  • Openness to experience, self-confidence, willingness to take risks, sense of humor, enjoyment of experimentation, lack of feeling threatened, personal courage, unconventionality, flexibility, preference for complexity, goal oriented, originality, self direction.

So part of creativity has to do with personality traits but Sternberg & Lubart think personality traits alone aren’t enough to give rise to creativity. What about abilities? Environment? Their theory involves a ‘confluence’ of elements that need to be present for creativity to occur. …

It can be really hard to stay motivated when you work for yourself… this is particularly true if you’re working on a product that hasn’t yet found product-market fit.

When I started out building my own products I would often find staying motivated difficult.

Sometimes I would set aside time to work on a project but when the time came to finally sit down and begin I would think: “I can’t work on my project right now because I don’t feel like it… I’ll do something else for a bit and then get to work.”

I really didn’t get much done. Working on projects can be stressful and I rarely felt like working. …

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Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I recently came across a post on a forum by a developer who was just starting out.

He was feeling overwhelmed.

He wasn’t learning much because he kept jumping form one online course to another. He felt that his problem was that there were just too many helpful online courses (and topics) out there to study.

In his words:

There are so many helpful resources out there that it’s super easy to lose focus.

I start learning one thing and then find something else that seems better.

In the end I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know what’s important any more. …

I believe one of the best ways for an entrepreneur to increase the odds of success is to start projects by picking a market. In this article, I want to examine why picking a market is important and examine a research technique that you can use.

Over the years I have built a lot of personal projects. A few have found customers… many have not.

I know I’m not alone in this experience. Medium, Indie Hackers, and Reddit are filled with stories about engineers spending years working on product ideas that never end up finding viable markets.

I have come to believe that common problem entrepreneurs face is that they don’t know how to find viable markets. …

Market research can reduce the risks that entrepreneurs face when they want to build a new product. In this article I talk about some market research techniques I have found that answer some important market questions.

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Market research can help you find opportunities

On doing market research

Seasoned entrepreneurs often recommend doing ‘market research’ as a starting point for building a new product.

The goal of market research is to determine how easy it would be to launch a new business in a particular market.

When you do market research you want to find a ‘good‘ market.

A good market is a market that is growing rapidly where there is a manageable amount of competition and where there is no clear market leader. …

Developers often start new projects by immediately writing code. I have found a more effective approach is to start new projects by writing marketing materials.

If you build products, I hope you find these ideas helpful.

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By Nick Morrison on Unsplash

A while ago I released an Android app.

The development process had started with some research.

I had identified an app that I thought I could improve upon. It had a high download rate, but the app itself was simple and poor quality.

I reasoned that if I could build a higher quality app, I’d get a lot of downloads. …

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The times when I have made the greatest leaps in my development skills have been when I struggled to learn something new and didn’t give up. This has not always been easy for me. I have come across a few ideas that have helped me push through my personal blocks.

Perhaps you can relate.

It’s all too easy to feel frustrated when you are faced with software engineering problems that are hard. I sometimes experience a feeling of wanting to give up. …

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Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

I got into Silicon Valley’s tech scene through the back door — by building my career with simple, quick freelance gigs. I highly recommend this approach. Not only is it a great way to learn a lot of different coding skills really quickly, it’s also a lot of fun!

The paradox: you need a job to get experience but you need experience to get a job…

The other day, a friend who was getting ready to graduate from college asked me for advice on how to get a developer job. He had spent hours poring over job boards, sending out cover letters, and had heard back from exactly zero companies. 😢

I completely understood his pain. Having been one of the founding engineers at a tech recruiting company where I worked on data-science, I’ve had the opportunity to see actual numbers and the picture can be pretty glum. …

Today is the last day of my 30 day design challenge, and it has been great. I have become so fast at building out product designs. The first designs that I worked on took full days, now I am coming up with rough product ideas in a few minutes and putting together one of these blog posts in about an hour.

After this design challenge is finished I will have to move on to the next phase in my plan — actually building landing pages / small products and throwing them out there to see if they grow.

I want to be able to release lots of small “products” very quickly — not unlike what I have done with this blog, but while I was able to work on this blog alone, I feel that I need to begin to look into involving other people in the next phase. …


Walt Schlender

I am working on my startup. Read about it at

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