Jen Yip 是一个方法独特的记账软件 Lunch Money 的唯一开发者。她单独开发维护这个软件,甚至连客服也是自己做,目前已经取得了 $40k ARR(annual recurring revenue,每年收入)。从她的经历看,应该与我同龄,但 Lunch Money 的功能丰富程度和强烈的设计风格上看,很难让人相信这是一个人做出来的作品,不得不让我佩服她的技能水平高超。她大致的经历如下:

  • 毕业后在 Twitter 工作近 4 年,换了 3 个 team,技术面比较广
  • 从 Twitter 离职,与室友做宠物方向的产品,发现对宠物产品没有激情,身心疲惫,做了人生意义的思考,离开旧金山
  • 开始半年多的长期旅行,在欧洲边工作边体验生活。期间由于自己需要,维护了多个表格用于记账,开始萌生产品 idea
  • 结束长期旅行回到家。结婚。重拾编程技能
  • 开始构思记账软件。在日本福冈生活了四个多月期间,高强度地开发了第一版的 Lunch Money,同时还做着两个外包的活
  • 至今(2020 年 5 月)开发了一年半左右,达到 $40k ARR

一开始我是在 Indie Hackers 上听到对她的 采访。听完后我又看了她的 博客。再之后看到了她接受 Failory 的 采访。无论是在采访还是在博客中,她真诚地表达了对于工作和创业过程的想法,并且从表达感受上会有女性的敏感和细腻。博客内容中,她讲了创业过程中遇到的各种问题,她是如何分析又如何解决的,思路清晰值得借鉴。关于创业有这几篇文章:

关于她个人经历的,可以看 My journey so far

如果你对她的经历有兴趣,我建议你自己阅读下上面的采访和文章。但我也总结了一些其中的要点列在下面。

对于市面上已经有两大记账软件 Mint 和 YNAB,再做一个记账软件的意义是什么?

Jen 认为记账这个过程是非常 personal 的。每个人的方式、着重考虑的点可能不一样。因此只要你有一种独特实用的方式去记账,那总会有一批人会喜欢你的方法,与你产生共鸣。

But I think you also bring up a good point that a lot of people feel that the personal finance and budgeting app space is oversaturated. I don’t think that at all, because I feel that personal finance is a very personal thing. Everyone has their own way that they like to do things.

I don’t think that this is something where you’re going to find over 50% of people share the same budgeting philosophy. So I feel that if you have a preferred way of doing something, you could probably find a cohort out there that feels the same way.

事实上 Jen 在开发 Lunch Money 前就用了很多表格来管理她自己的账务和预算。后面她将这个方式推荐给了一些周围的人,发现的确有人坚持用她的方法。加上她希望老公也一起用,因此才有了开发 Lunch Money 的想法。

另外,她提到 Mint 有 1300 万的用户量。假如她能获得 0.05% 的用户量,她觉得也足够了。

关于怎么在高强度的工作中不 burn out

Jen 的方式大概是,集中三四天时间做一个大的 feature 或者搞定一批事情,然后就休息一两天。

But I’ve noticed that my working cadence is, I’ll be deep into a major feature or maybe a group of improvements that I’d like to make on a particular feature and I’ll work on it for three days. Once I deploy and I notify my users, it’s like this wave comes crashing down and I lose the motivation to work a little bit.

I think that’s my body telling me, hey, I need a break. So my schedule is basically work really hard for three to four days and then take a day, day and a half off. I find that that works well for me.

如何在有限的时间精力里做出最大的产出?

Jen 觉得自己作为独立开发者,时间精力都非常有限,因此她希望自己不因为陷入一件事情太深而忘了真正应该做的事情。没当一件事情需要超过一周来完成,她会想重新评估是否值得做。并且她经常给手头的工作重新定优先级。

No single mistake that I’ve made was detrimental, but I can think of a lot of potential mistakes I could have made which would totally have derailed the progress of Lunch Money. I’d have to attribute the avoidance of these to being a solo founder– since I’m stretched so thin, I don’t actually have time to dive so deep into one thing that I lose sight of where I should be going. I’m constantly re-prioritizing the most important things to do and if something is taking me more than, say, 1 week, I think really hard about whether or not it’s really worth that time.

关于如何获得动力

Jen 会希望在自己不要过得太舒适。当过得太舒适时,她会选择一些新的挑战。它觉得要有一个 “prepared mindset” 去面对各种各样的变化。

Reflecting on my own experiences so far, I would say that an overarching theme is self-driven change. I know that’s not easy for everyone. It can be scary to change things up. But personally, I realized that I have a tendency to leave when things start to get too comfortable. That has always been a net positive for me in the end.

For example, changing teams at Twitter helped me round out may skills as an engineer. Stepping away from the grind of Silicon Valley and moving away from SF reinvigorated my love and passion and for programming, and it also helped me to regain a sense of personal purpose.

Even now, as part time digital nomads, changing our environment every winter forces us to reestablish new routines, which is sometime easier than just trying to change one aspect of an otherwise rigid routine.

So I feel like not being afraid of change and embracing the unknown and the unexpected would prepare you to be an Indie Hacker, because once your product is out there, you put a lot of yourself out there and it’s scary.

Things come at you left and right, and most of the time you can’t plan for these things. All you can do is have a prepared mindset and a good attitude about the whole thing.

关于是否要将事务性工作自动化

Jen 认为一些事情并 不需要急着自动化,除非到了你觉得需要去做的那天。有些事务性工作出现的频率并不高,对比起花费在将其自动化上的时间,可能人工搞搞会更省时省力。特别是对于 Lunch Money 这种早期的产品,功能特性处在快速变化中,一些事务性的工作可能过阵子就不需要再做了。

关于如何做营销:

Jen 试了找记者、在 Reddit / Twitter 写回复、买广告,效果都不好。甚至因为在两个跟金融理财相关的 subreddit 发帖而被封号。

对她来说,最有用的方式是把她作为独立开发者的经历写出来,通过 Indie Hackers、Hacker News 和 Twitter 等发布,给她带来了很多有效的客户。同时她尽力把产品做得足够好,这样可以让用户口口相传带动注册量稳步上涨。

Writing about my experience as a solo founder and posting them on mediums such as Hacker News, LinkedIn, Twitter and Indie Hackers have proven to be most successful in drawing new users to Lunch Money. And continuously improving Lunch Money keeps my current users happy and drives word-of-mouth marketing.

关于如何将市场推广与特性发布结合

当 Jen 做一轮推广后,会有一波新用户集中注册和试用,他们会提出自己想要的特性或者反馈 bug。这时 Jen 会抓紧把这些建议收集起来,并且在几天内集中精力开发和修复,并在用户的 15 天试用期结束前将这些功能发布,再通知一波用户。此时用户的转化率比较高。

我觉得这是个很聪明且实诚的方法,让用户看到背后的开发者是真的非常投入在做事情。

关于如何处理用户反馈

Jen 使用了第三方服务,可以将用户反馈推送到她的 Gmail 邮箱中。她再通过 Gmail 的过滤功能给邮件打上标签做分类。另外她会针对特定场景优化用户体验。比如有很多用户因为银行帐户启用了二步验证,导致无法通过 Lunch Money 同步账单数据,提了很多工单给到 Jen。

Jen 分析之后,在 Lunch Money 中同步账号的组件上,添加了一个小的 details pop-up,问用户是否遇到了同步问题。如果是,会弹出一个对话框,里面用户可以描述自己的问题并提交。同时对话框里面也有关于二步验证的描述,让用户能自行定位下是否二步验证引起的问题。这让这方面的工单量大幅下降。

这是很针对性解决问题的一个范例。

关于如何保持积极

This intense context-switching and practice of self-discipline trained me for the life of a solopreneur. Being able to switch between engineering, marketing and customer support in the blink of an eye helps with my overall time efficiency and being constantly aware of the bigger picture is my source of motivation for getting through a tedious task.

这让我想到《掌控习惯》中的观点:

许多人开始改变他们的习惯时,把注意力集中在他们想要达到的目标上。这会导致我们养成基于最终结果的习惯。正确的做法是培养基于身份的习惯。借助于这种方式,我们的着眼点是我们希望成为什么样的人。

关于业余爱好

有一份跟工作无关的爱好挺好的。从工作切换到爱好是一种休息。再回来工作后可能有更好的精神。

很多人都有种体验,看一门学科如果看累了,换一门学会重新激起活力。工作到爱好的来回切换也是同理。甚至运动也是对大脑的一种放松。

Having hobbies that are not work-related is really helpful. I’ve been consistently attending in-person classes to strengthen my Mandarin Chinese since July 2019. While being pulled away for 2+ hours every other day during the work week isn’t always welcomed at the time, I usually feel good about getting out of the house or focusing on something that isn’t work-related and it allows me to get back to the grind with a clearer mind.

关于是否在初期做移动端

Jen 的结论是 在产品初期不要急着做移动端。因为:

  • 她对移动端技术不熟悉,同时开发桌面端和移动端势必会拖慢迭代速度
  • 移动端的发布速度还受限于 Apple 和 Google

Looking back now, it was the right decision to hold off on a mobile app. Keeping parity with both web and mobile while iterating regularly on the product would have been nearly impossible. The web version changed so quickly with many features having been completely re-written in the last 6 months. That would have taken more than twice the time if I also had to consider the mobile app whose update cycles are at the mercy of Apple and Google.

我个人觉得,当产品核心在网页版中已经稳定下来了,再考虑做移动端也可以。如果自己没有精力去深入移动端,也可以一开始用 Flutter 之类技术做一个简单的移动端应用,在产品有一定盈利后,再考虑雇人做个体验更好的。

关于要不要写下产品背后的故事?

Jen 一开始是不太想写的,她担心让用户发现这个产品只是一个人在做时,用户会觉得不靠谱。后来她还是写了一些关于自己和产品研发过程的故事。这反而让她的用户非常敬佩。很多人向她表示受到了启发和鼓舞。

After some initial feedback, I decided to implement an About page and start sending a welcome email to new users introducing myself as the one-woman team behind the product.

I now regularly get emails back from users letting me know that they find my story inspiring, or that they love the fact that an indie developer is behind the product! 🥰

我觉得作为初创产品,一个好的、打动人心的故事是非常有益于宣传的。故事是连接人与服务的最好工具。

关于产品帮助文档系统的选型

使用 Jekyll 配合 ThemeForest 上的模版构建。不使用付费服务,因为文档系统本身不难实现,市面上已经有很多静态网站生成器。同时付费服务提供的额外功能,比如评论和 Live Chat,并没有什么用。

关于用户反馈邮件

用户发送到域名邮箱 support@lunchmoney.app 时,一开始 Jen 使用免费服务 Mailgun 转发到她的个人邮箱中。但问题是,她通过 Mailgun 回复的邮件,无法送达到 Outlook.com / Hotmail.com 中,原因是有大量 spammer 也通过 Mailgun 发送垃圾邮件,导致一些 Mailgun IP 进了垃圾邮件黑名单。Sendgrid 跟 Mailgun 都有类似的问题。 最终她还是使用了 G Suite,可以绑定域名邮箱。

评论系统被墙,可以发邮件到 onlyice0328@gmail.com 与我交流。