Building our first side-project, full-time.

Fri Sep 20 2019

Last week, my friend Dianzel(@jansel369) and I met up and partnered to start on our first indie-hacking journey.

Here's the backstory.

Exactly a year ago, I was a freelance full stack developer. I live in the Philippines, and used Upwork to find and land contracts. Using Upwork was great for me - I got to work remotely with competitive rates, and I knew this was uncommon for a developer living in a third world country. However, soon enough I discovered some of Upwork's flaws. Upwork takes ~5-20% of the revenue from the freelancer. That’s a lot. If I worked 9 hours per day, that's ~.45-1.8 hours that I have to work for Upwork. To add to that, relying on Upwork as a freelancer also means dependence on the platform. There’s some fragility involved when your livelihood gets locked-in to a platform. I hoped Upwork worked to improve on some of these issues, and it's not far-fetched that other freelancers wanted that too. But Upwork is a giant in the remote gig business, and understandably they can command whatever they want unless a competitor can match them. I put that thought aside, and continued on my freelancing journey outside of Upwork.

Fast forward to this month, I ended my contract job and decided to work for myself full-time. As I wrote in my previous blog post, one of my goals is to build and launch a profitable product. I was doing my routine evening exercise when an idea turned up in my head. Why aren't there any platforms focused on migrating/refactoring software? That was my initial idea, a platform focused on listing the not-so-fun work in software development. I immediately messaged Dianzel to discuss the idea and to partner up with him.

Dianzel and I agreed to work on the initial idea. We were ready to proceed building but wanted to consult first and get some feedback. We consulted with our mentor Kevin(@kebatu) and I explained to him the product and what we’re building. Kevin immediately zeroed in on a mistake I made. I talked about what we're building, and how it's gonna help freelancers. But I didn't talk about the why. In How To Get Startup Ideas, Paul Graham says that the problem you need to solve must be personal to you. You must, at least on some level, care and empathize with the problem. I went back to my problems with Upwork. I imagined as a freelancer, how my ideal Upwork would look like. Then the why became clear to me.

Our why is to create a platform that uplifts and empowers freelancers.

These are our initial plans for the platform:

  1. The platform will have 0% transaction fee. That means freelancers will get 100% of their revenues.

  2. Freelancers will be free to market themselves in the platform, and to also bring their audience outside of the platform. We want the platform to be inclusive, and to have no platform lock-ins.

  3. We want freelancers to have a sense of community, to allow themselves to help each other and not make it a zero-sum game. We want the talented, passionate freelancers to be in our platform, not because they need to — but because they want to.

To conclude, we're currently building the initial MVP of the platform. We plan on openly sharing blog posts of our experiences while building this product. I'll be doing this for accountability as well as marketing. If you are interested in seeing us fail, succeed, or at the very least learn something while building this product, subscribe to our newsletter below👇.

Coming up next week, we'll be revealing the platform name 😲 + a sneak peak on what we we're able to build in two weeks of development!

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