You can tell I’m not optimizing this post for SEO by the amazing title. 😂 Instead this is more of a life update. At the beginning of this year (and every year) I decided to set a few goals and themes for 2021. This is an update on how these are going and everything else I’ve been up to lately.
One of the reasons I write these is to share what a FIRE lifestyle can look like. If you’re new here, we’re an upper-middle class couple (no kids) who retired early at 36 spending roughly $80k a year. We live in an apartment with a lovable pup that just turned 13 years old last month.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to!
Minafi Summer Break
Let’s start with the big one. You may have noticed I haven’t exactly been actively posting lately. Back in late April I decided to take 3 months off from Minafi, planning to come back in August.
Because I just can’t help but work on something, this pause was so I could put 100% of my mental energy into a new problem. In this case it was starting a new startup – one that I’d been thinking about for more than a decade.
The startup? Hardcover. An alternative to Goodreads that allows you to track and discover new books that’s not related to Amazon. I read or listen to over 100 books a year (ok, mostly listen), and Goodreads has been essential in tracking, understanding my habits and helping me learn my own preferences. There’s something to looking back and seeing what books I’ve loved that help me more accurately find new favorites.
So in April I posted on Reddit looking for a UI/UX designer to work on this idea with. We formed a team and started researching out the idea! The progress of the site has gone something like this:
Form a team. We started with a team of 5, went down to 4 and are now up to 6 people.
Create a hypothesis. Decide what type of user we’re attempting to connect with.
Talk to those users. We talked to about 15 users to understand how they’re using Goodreads, and if they have issues with it (which most did).
Create a prototype. Based on the common problems users brought up, create a prototype that solves those while taking into account their most common use cases.
Discuss the prototype with users. Go through this prototype with users! This is one of the most fun steps to be honest. It’s sooo nice doing this with a prototype because I’m not attached to the solution. If it doesn’t work, we can still change things before programming it.
Build it. This can be started at the beginning – creating a login system, loading in books, etc – but the building of the individual pages can’t happen until we understand how users interact and respond to our prototype.
This is the process that I followed for years in some way or another as a developer, but then much more dogmatically as a product manager in the last 5 years of my career.
In high school and middle school I was always the quiet, introverted kid. I wasn’t one to start conversations and honestly didn’t have much to say. It was only when I switched to Product Management that I realized I love to talk! It just depends on what we’re talking about. Talking to someone about something I’m passionate about? I can go all day. Books are one topic like that for me, while FIRE and investing are others I can go all day about.
In talking to potential users initially, we found that people tend to use Goodreads foremost for two things – looking up books when someone mentions them and tracking what they want to read. Other features like reading reviews, seeing what their friends are reading and tracking what they read were up there as well. That left about 8,355 other features on Goodreads that weren’t mentioned once.
Friends Backpacking Trip
The second outing was a 3-person overnight backpacking trip to Grove Creek and Battle Creek. This is the 3rd time I’ve done this loop with friends, and it remains my favorite backpacking trail on the Wasatch front. As an added bonus, you can even get cell service for most of the hike!
For this hike I was able to try out a new tent (The Two from Gossamer Gear) and a new pack (their Gorilla 50L Ultralight). I’ve been trying to cut weight to make backpacking more fun. I can confirm – the hike is a LOT more fun when carrying 15 lbs compared to carrying 30 lbs.