I spent the last two weeks building out popvend.com with my friend Kyle. This was our first time shipping something this quick and thought I would break down how we did it, what we learned, and what we still need to improve on.
Popvend is a free personal page to sell your digital products, services, host virtual events, and pretty much anything online.
The first day we planned out our idea of the platform at a high level, figuring out the basic flow and functionality, as well as the look we wanted to go for. This part was pretty straightforward, so not much to go into here.
The next two days were spent going over our plans and stripping out anything that wasn't needed for people to start using it (something we still need to improve on). Once that was done, we also went ahead and broke down more of the technical implementation so we could begin to split up the tasks for coding. I'm really into the frontend design/flow, so I usually take a stronger stance on that front while Kyle does more of the backend.
We now had planned out pretty much everything we needed to get started, so these next days were mainly spent coding. We also still had not come up with a name, so in our downtime, we would be on GoDaddy typing in different variations of words trying to find an available .com. With the structure of the URL being oursite.com/yourusername we needed something short, easy to read and pronounce.
Our strategy for this was finding 2 words that described what we were building and mashing them together in any variation possible. We settled on popvend.. The "pop" represents "pop-up", like a pop-up store. The "vend" is short for "vendor". We had other names we wanted, but with it being a competitive space for domains, and wanting to get this out quickly, we settled.
Up to this point, we hadn't run into any problems coding wise. We were using Django, as we have for our previous projects, so we were pretty familiar with how to implement everything. Then came the uploading of files…something neither of us had experience with. Initially, our idea was to upload the files to our server over HTTP, zip them, then store on s3.
Lesson Learned: If something is that hard for you to get working, and you can't find many solutions for it, then you should take a step back and see if there is a different (ideally simpler) way to solve it.
Most of the coding was now complete. The key was trying to keep things as simple as possible and reminding ourselves of that every time we were coding. We tested everything and noted down any bugs or things we forgot, fixed those, then tested again.
Our original goal was one week. Once we began the technical implementation, we realized that wasn't going to be attainable, so we bumped it up to 2. Well, we did it! Our previous projects have usually taken us 1-2 months, so this was a pretty new thing for us.
We put the site live yesterday, reserved the usernames we wanted 😂 and now are just spreading the word to anyone we think could use it. We decided not to put any effort into some big launch for a couple of reasons:
- It had never worked well for us before. We would do the typical Product Hunt /Betalist, Reddit post, etc. and get a few upvotes, and that's pretty much it. Since we didn't have any users or people who knew about us its understandable. This is why our approach now was to get some users first and collect as much feedback as we can.
- Touched on in the point above, but since we had no real users, putting focus on a launch didn't make much sense, when really all we needed was 10-20 people just to try it out and give us feedback, so we could make the product better.
We do plan to launch it like that, but once we actually have some users, feedback and more of a community around it.
This is my first time writing something like this. I've always felt like I didn't know enough to post about my experiences with building something, but I learned that if you never just do it, you will always be stuck in that mindset. Even if one thing I said here helps somebody, that would be awesome.
If you wanna connect or chat, feel free to reach out! @claytonrannard
submitted by /u/claytxnr
How we went from an idea to launching our MVP in 2 weeks