In the previous post, I talked about what I've learned. That post focused on bigger things. But there were a lot of smaller, more miscellaneous things that I've learned too. Those are the things that I want to talk about in this post.
People think of a mobile app when you say you're building an "app"
Even when I clarify and try to explain that it's a web app, most people are still confused. So sometimes I call it a website, which I hate because that sort of implies that it's static. Sometimes I describe it as poker software. I still haven't found a good solution to this. I think "website" is probably best.
Ghosting is normal
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I hate it. But apparently it's just a thing that many people do. At least in the business world. Let me give you some examples.
1) I reached out to this vlogger on Twitter. I asked if she'd be interested in working with me. She said she is. Then she proposed that I pay her as an advertiser to promote the app. I said in response that I'm only looking for revenue share partnerships right now, and asked if she's interested in that. No response. I follow up in a few days. No response. Follow up again. No response.
2) There was a guy who I would study poker with via Skype every week. I swear, we had a good relationship, and had productive study sessions. At some point he was going to be away for some trip for a few weeks, so we said we'd resume when he gets back. After the trip I reach out to set up a time for our next session. No response. I reach out again. No response. Again. No response. I eventually start spacing it out over months, but I never get a response from him. Eventually he signs up as my second paid user. I email him to thank him and ask if he wants to catch up. No response. At this point maybe he just feels too awkward to respond. I'm really confused though. I have no clue what happened.
3) There've been a few times where I'd try to set up lunches with people for advice. Many times the conversation would go:
Me: Want to get lunch?
Them: Sure, how about next week.
Me: Sounds good, what would be a good time for you?
Me: Just checking in for lunch next week.
Me: Still want to get lunch?
Me: Sorry we missed each other last week. Want to reschedule?
Them: Hey, sorry I didn't respond previously. How's this upcoming week for you?
Me: No worries. I'm free. How about Wednesday?
I could go on and on giving examples of this sort of stuff, but I think you get the idea.
Additionally, I've found that when people want something from you, this phenomena completely disappears! Mysterious, huh?
Book authors are just people
In the beginning I'd get star struck when I met or talked with book authors, or similarly "famous" people. But now I just see them as people. People aren't banging down their door. You can email them. It's not implausible that they'll get coffee with you.
There's no such thing as "just throwing out a number"
"Suppose we said it'd be $100/month."
"Suppose we say it's 50% revenue share."
I've made statements like this, intending for it to not mean anything and just be, y'know, throwing out a number. But in my experience, people get attached to these numbers. Or at least they become heavily anchored to them.
A few kind words means the world to an early stage entrepreneur
Sometimes I'd get emails from people saying that they really like the app and that they're thankful that I created it. That stuff really meant so much to me, and made me so happy. I almost want to create some sort of effective altruist movement of doing things like that, given the amount of utility it produces.
Paying for people's meals doesn't seem to induce much reciprocation
A lot of times I meet with people and will pay for their meals, in hopes that they'll reciprocate and spend more effort trying to help me out. But I've found it to be incredibly ineffective.
Here's an extreme example. There was a point where I was pushing hard for people to sit with me and allow me to do user research with them. I would offer to buy someone lunch if they would do so. I posted this on Reddit, and one guy took me up on it. So we met for lunch when he was in town.
He ended up bringing along two friends. They were both only vaguely interested in poker. Not good.
During the lunch, the table was a bit too crowded to take out laptops and do the user research. That's another thing I've learned — don't plan on doing things that involve a computer over lunch. So anyway, we have lunch, we realize that the user research part isn't working out because there's not enough room, so we say we'll do it after we finish lunch. Then one guy says that they're actually super tired from being up all night last night, and maybe we could do the user research tomorrow, or via Skype when they get back home if tomorrow doesn't work out. I say sure.
I pay the bill for all four of us. It must have been about $80.
They're busy the next day. Afterwards, I text him/them a few times trying to set up a time to do the user research. Not responsive. Sometimes they straight up ignore me.
Later on when I launched, I emailed them. No response.
You'd expect a little bit more from a group who you treated to an $80 lunch. Maybe these guys were the exception, but I get the sense that they're more the norm.
Cialdini — are you part of the replication crisis now too?
ROI isn't enough, even for high stakes pros
I talked previously about how poker software is easily a +ROI investment, and how I've been surprised at how unwilling people are to see it that way. But I was particularly struck by the fact that high stakes poker pros wouldn't see it that way. I would have thought that such people would be logical enough to jump on +ROI opportunities.
Example: I was having a conversation with Cy where he was saying that $100/month is pretty expensive, and I said I don't think it is at all. Consider some quick math. Say a high stakes poker player plays 10,000 hands/month, and the software improves your winrate by 0.1bb/100 hands. That's 1bb/1,000 hands, 10bb/10,000 hands, or 10bb/month. If you're playing $25/50, which him and Brad play, that's $500/month. And those are pretty conservative assumptions. The software could easily improve your winrate by more than that. And online poker pros often play way more than 10,000 hands/month. But this logic did not change his perspective. He said that he just doesn't see it this way, and that he knows his other high stakes friends don't either.
I deleted my backlog, and it turns out nothing terrible happened
I was inspired to delete my backlog by Jason Fried wants to delete my backlog. It's worked out pretty well for me! It alleviated some stress, and I didn't feel like I was missing something.
Getting people to do user research with is hard
I figured it wouldn't be that hard.
"Hey, let me sit down with you over lunch and watch you use my app. I'll pick up the bill!"
"Hey, let's Skype and let me watch you use my app. I'll coach you for free!"
I would think that stuff like this would easily get me dozens and dozens of volunteers pretty quickly, but it didn't work out like that for me. I found it hard to find people to do user research with.
E2E testing wasn't worth it for me
I've had a very love-hate relationship with e2e testing. It's so awesome when you have all your tests and can run them to make sure things work. But I really hate the framework I'm using, Nightwatch.js. It's slow and cumbersome. Maintaining the tests proved to be really time consuming. There were so many weird bugs. I ultimately just decided to stop maintaining and writing e2e tests, because I didn't feel that they were worth it, given how time consuming they were.
Long inferential distances is the realest thing in the world
One example is that I was talking to a professional poker player and coach. He didn't know how to read a 2d graph with x-y coordinates. I said "x-axis". He said, "what?".
This made me decide to change the text on my app to say "horizontal axis" instead of "x-axis".
He also struggled to understand that a point on the graph refers to a pair of data points. And to understand what the slope means. And how to calculate expected value.
He wasn't the only one. I have plenty of other examples of stuff like this.
I don't want to come across as being mean though. Just sayin'. I certainly have my own share of incompetencies.
I often felt a strong urge to get out of the house
Furthermore, for some reason, I felt an urge to get far away. There's this coffee shop I like to go to that is about an hour long bike ride away. I found myself wanting to go there a lot. This urge confused me, because the coffee shop isn't that great. Eventually I realized that I really liked the bike ride, and being far away from home. Maybe because it acted as a divider between "work day" and "relaxing time".
There are definitely things that I'm forgetting. Hopefully I'll add to this post as I remember them.