The SaaS Podcast

How Carrd’s Founder Turned a Side Project into a Profitable SaaS – with AJ [225]

AJ @ Carrd

How Carrd's Founder Turned a Side Project into a Profitable SaaS

AJ is the founder of Carrd, a SaaS platform for building simple and fully responsive one-page websites.

In 2012, AJ was designing and creating website templates and themes for a living. Around that time, responsive web design was growing in popularity and it was a skill AJ wanted to acquire.

So he set out to design and build his first responsive site template. When it was done, he put it on his website and let people download it for free.

People liked his template, so he kept building more. And people kept downloading those templates and using them to build websites.

Some people started asking if they could pay him for additional features and support. So he started charging them effectively a one-time payment of $19.

It wasn't a lot of money, but he'd been doing such a great job creating so many templates and built a loyal following that he was quickly generating 6-figures in annual revenue.

But by 2015, AJ was bored of building templates and themes. It had been fun learning a lot of new skills. But he was now ready for a new challenge.

He was intrigued by the idea of site building software that made it easy for non developers to create websites. But companies like Wix and Squarespace already had products in the market.

He knew he couldn't compete with those companies. So he looked for a different way. And eventually, he narrowed down his idea to a site builder for really simple one-page websites.

And it turned out to be a good idea that caught on with a lot of people.

Today, his business is doing around $30K in monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and is profitable. In this interview, we talk about how he's built a one-person SaaS company with no marketing.

But he's a great guy and I had a lot of fun talking to him. I hope you enjoy it too.

Transcript

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Omer Khan [0:10]
Welcome to another episode of the SaaS podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan and this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to AJ, the founder of Carrd, a SaaS platform for building simple and fully responsive one-page websites. In 2010, AJ was designing and creating website templates and themes for a living. Around that time, responsive web design was growing in popularity. And it was a skill that he wanted to acquire. So he set out to design and build his first responsive site template. When it was done, he put it on his website and let people download it for free. People liked his template, so he kept building more. And people kept downloading those templates and using them to build websites. And then some people started asking if they could pay him for additional features and support. So he decided to charge them a one-time payment of $19. It wasn't a lot of money. But he'd been doing such a great job creating so many templates and building a following that he was quickly generating six figures in annual revenue. But by 2015, AJ was bored of building templates and themes. It had been fun learning a lot of new skills, but he was now ready for a new challenge. And he was intrigued by the idea of site-building software that made it easy for non-developers to create websites. But companies like Wix and Squarespace already had products in the market. And he knew he couldn't compete with those companies. So he looked for a different way. And eventually, he narrow down his idea to site builder for really simple one-page websites. And it turned out to be a really good idea that caught on with a lot of people. Today, his business is doing around $30,000 in monthly recurring revenue and is profitable. In this interview, we talked about how he's built a one-person SaaS company, with no marketing. And in case you're wondering, it's not a mistake that I didn't mention AJ, his last name. He's pretty much anonymous online. No one knows his last name, or what he even looks like. But he's a great guy, and I had a lot of fun talking to him. And I hope you enjoy this conversation to real quick before we get started. Firstly, don't forget to grab a free copy of the SaaS toolkit, which will tell you about the 21 essential tools that every SaaS business needs, you can download your copy by going to theSaaSpodcast.com. And secondly, enrollment for SaaS club plus is now open. Plus is our online membership and community for early-stage SaaS founders. So if you need help launching and growing your SaaS business, and you want to connect with other founders around the world, and build recurring revenue faster, then plus will help you to do just that. Just go to SaaSclubplus.com. To learn more. Okay, let's get into the interview. AJ, welcome to the show.

AJ [3:17]
Hey, thanks for having me on.

Omer Khan [3:19]
So I always like to ask my guests what gets them out of bed? What drives or motivates them to work on their business? So what is it for you?

AJ [3:27]
Oh, I would say pretty much just the challenge of the whole thing. And we work on a project like Carrd, there's just so many different hats you have to wear. And every single day, you're putting on a different hat. And it's always interesting to see what hat I'll have to wear on a given day. And yeah, that really just pushes me forward just to keep working and seeing what's out there.

Omer Khan [3:45]
And you're a one man company, so you have to wear every single hat.

AJ [3:48]
Yes, it it's been fun, although I do my longtime business partner from other projects is, relatively recently come on to help with some aspects of like moderation and stuff. Because I would literally have no, no time left, if I had to do it myself do so the hats are starting to get a little bit too abundant, shall we say?

Omer Khan [4:07]
So for people who aren't familiar with Carrd, can you just explain what the product does?

AJ [4:13]
Yeah, so it's basically just a one page site builder for as the site says pretty much anything, you know, like a, like a user profile like for, you know, profile for yourself. For your business portfolio, you know, I've seen a lot of people use it for selling products and stuff. And then just pretty much anything that you want to put on the web, you can pretty much do with Carrd. And I've seen some use cases that I really didn't anticipate at all. So that's why I try not to just list the things that I know because I know people use it for whatever the hell they want to end up using it for. So that's kind of cool in some way.

Omer Khan [4:48]
And in terms of revenue, you're doing what around 30K, MRR?

AJ [4:54]
Yeah, about 25 to 30 is about where it's been hovering at the last few months. And it's been sort of on the steady incline, which is good. And you know, against relatively low expenses. So I mean, it's been it's been profitable since day one, which is great. And hopefully I get to keep it that way. Yeah.

Omer Khan [5:10]
Okay, so let's start the story before any of this happened. I know your first one of the first products you built was called HTML5 UP. Right? And I want to get into that, but what were you doing before you even launched that business?

AJ [5:27]
Sure. So this will be like late 2000s, early 2010s, I was designing basically site templates and themes and stuff. Because around that time, I think it was a pretty hot market. So you could do pretty well for yourself, if you're willing to put in the time to do stuff like that, and this, you know, sell it, whatever. And thenHTML5 UP actually came from doing that I had nothing in the way of experience with responsive design. So I was like, well, I need to teach myself this because that's where everything is going. So I rolled it, I guess into also be a project that I put out stuff on a site, you know, that people could download for free. So if you go to html5up.net, scroll right to the bottom, you will see the very first thing that I ever designed responsibly. So it looks extremely dated by today's standards. But there it is. And that really kicked off everything else that was to come.

Omer Khan [6:20]
Yeah, we were looking at that, right, the Minimaxing here.

AJ [6:25]
It's nice in its own way for like early 2010s. I'd say.

Omer Khan [6:29]
So were you a designer, web developer, like what was your skillset when you started out?

AJ [6:36]
I guess both. I mean, I tend not to label myself because that, you know, I've got this thing about labels kind of limiting you to, like mentally limiting you to a specific thing. Like I'm a developer, that's all I do, you know. So I did both it just out of necessity, partly, but also just it was fun just to design to learn how that works, and also to do the development side of things. Because what you learn different things doing that. So I did both and I guess templates and themes were really like a good synthesis of both of those areas of expertise. So that's pretty much way to,

Omer Khan [7:09]
Yeah I know, that's a good point in terms of like, labels, you know, that could probably lead to different conversation, but I think that's a pretty astute kind of observation. Right?

AJ [7:20]
One, I'm just full of those. Not really, that's like my only one.

Omer Khan [7:28]
Okay. All right. So how did you build these skills? Like, whether it's design or developer? Are you self taught? Or was it through kind of, you know, college, or different jobs or whatever, like, how did you acquire all those skills,

AJ [7:39]
It was, I'd say, like 90% self-taught, at least, like on the design side, development, also, I'd say, you know, like a, that I went to school for computer science. Although, even prior to that, I'd already been into programming. So I pretty much just chose computer science as a degree just so I could pretty much have an easy time in school. It's, it's mostly becoming self-taught. And I tell people nowadays, like you really don't, for a lot of things. Now you don't really have to, you know, incur the debt that comes with higher education for some things, because the internet can now teach pretty much anything you need to know about development or even designed to an extent. And a good chunk of my skills I develop just from doing the thing. So that's really my advice, just do the thing, you will get better at it. Yeah,

Omer Khan [8:26]
I remember, I mean, I'm going to show my age here now. But my first computer was a Sinclair zero x 81. Which was,

AJ [8:35]
Definitely shows your age.

Omer Khan [8:37]
And it was like, you know, it's like 1K a RAM you had to work on. And I remember, like, how excited I was, when I got this 16K expander, I could play it at the back. But yeah, that's what I do. Like, I remember like going and, and buying these magazines where they had like code of different kind of programs. And I just sit there like, copying and typing this stuff up and debugging and sort of, you know, making stuff, right. And I think that's a really good way to say just just get in there and just let curiosity kind of just drive you.

AJ [9:08]
Right. I mean, and just, at some point, you got to move past theory and get into practice and apply, apply that theory in the real world and see where it takes you. And I think that's, that is pretty much how I learned everything I've learned and continues to learn, you know, in some ways, that's not good for certain things. Because then you learn, you learn from mistakes that you didn't have to make, you could have just learned from someone else. So I mean, I'm not saying that all education is, you know, Bs or something. I'm just saying, like, don't be afraid to just get in there and do it.

Omer Khan [9:39]
Yeah, it reminds me there's a great book on reading, where I'm actually listening on Audible at the moment is called Ultra Learning. And it's exactly about this idea of being able to learn things with purpose, about much more kind of action-orientated. You know, one guy who became fluent in German in a few months time, I think the author kind of took a four year MIT program, and he couldn't get into MIT. But you know, they make all this stuff available online, for any kind of completed the four-year course in like a year. And he took the exams as well. Wow. But yeah, really, really good book. And I was just like, he just kind of inspired me in terms of, I have a long list of things that I want to learn. And I always think there's not enough time in my life to learn all those things. And then when you actually kind of think about the other way, and say, actually, well, why do I want to learn this stuff? It's like, Well, actually, I don't need to master the whole thing. I just wanted to do this one thing or right, you know, if it's a language, I just want to have conversations with people. Okay, well, maybe just focus on that. And this is kind of like a manageable actionable thing that you can kind of get your your hands around, but

AJ [10:41]
Right, you can like learn the first like 90% or maybe 95. Like, let's just say like 60-70% of something, the critical things and really get by with that. I mean, that's why it goes back to the whole label thing. I think if you obsess over, why want to be a developer? Well, then what does that mean? It means you need to learn. Probably, like I think maybe you feel like you have to learn everything. When it's like know if you just want to make things right then Okay, just learn the thing, the skills that you need to go make whatever the thing is that you want to make. You don't have to learn databases, if the thing you're building doesn't use database, so you know, you can just kind of skip over a lot of things get to where you want to go by just learning what you need to learn. Yeah, yeah, they get on soapbox. But yeah, there you go.

Omer Khan [11:25]
No, no, no, I was just thinking, I was like, dude, we could we could probably just do a podcast just on learning stuff. Yeah, maybe we should talk about that later. All right, you podcast. Yeah. Alright. So let's talk about HTML5 UP. So you said that it started because you were like, okay, I want to learn about responsive design. So you created that first theme? Yeah. And then like, what was the plan? Like, what were you going to do? Just, I'm just going to create this theme and try to sell it? Or it was just the curiosity to kind of what's involved in doing this? Like, what was the plan? What was that one?

AJ [12:07]
I don't think there was a plan, like, yeah, I'm not gonna try, like retrospectively apply a plan, either. I know, there was no plan, it was just, yeah, I'm gonna make it, I'm going to stick it up there. It's free. If anyone wants it, they can get it, you know, whatever. Apparently, like after, I think maybe after the third design, though, like that site actually started gaining some traction. So that sort of motivated me to make more stuff. And beyond that, like better stuff. So in a lot of ways, just the traction that site got really fueled me to up my game. And if you could just scroll up through that page, starting from the bottom, you can just see how both my design and I guess, development skills, as far as front end development goes, really increased over, you know, a relatively short period of time, because it was like, Well, people really respond well to this. And, you know, there's something to be said about getting feedback from users like, well, wow, there's, and in this case, I guess it's just the download count is sort of a metric that I could look at and kind of get a feel for, and it kind of motivated me to move forward into more. Yeah. And then that eventually led to, I don't want to get too far into myself. But that site ended up growing pretty big.

Omer Khan [13:20]
And you give away the themes are available for free, right? People can just download any one of those.

AJ [13:24]
Yeah, you just download it, use it where it's a creative commons. So yeah, do whatever, you just have to keep attribution somewhere

Omer Khan [13:31]
on it. It's funny, I'm just going through, I just scrolling up from the bottom of the page. And you're right, it's like, it's almost seeing someone's design skills grow. As you look at each of these different things.

AJ [13:40]
Also, the amount of effort I was putting in went up a lot, he feel almost like you, you will do even better work. If you get positive feedback for your previous where, you know, I mean, like this, the more people appreciate what you do, the more you want to please them and in terms of what you put out, so you just it's like a feedback loop. And then you just get better and better. They get a better product, you create better products, and it just keeps going and going.

Omer Khan [14:10]
Yeah, yeah. It's kind of similar to the this podcast, like when I started it, like, in a couple of hundred episodes ago. God, it's like, I mean, I don't like listening to my voice anyway. And I don't like seeing myself on photos or videos, right? which kind of makes it pretty restricted life. But I really cringe when I hear those early episodes. It's like, oh, my god, that was terrible. And I think oh, no, I'm doing much better now. And probably like, you know, a couple of years later, I listened back to this episode of go, Oh, my God, I sound terrible. But I think what we get there is I think if you if you sort of think about that, and you start to see say, hey, every step I'm taking every time I try this, I'm getting better and better. And, you know, from the first few interviews where I was like, you know, I was kind of like reading questions off a script. And I wasn't even listening fully to what people were saying. Just try to get through a list. Yeah, yeah. What am I gonna ask them next? Right, that kind of thing. And I remember asking for feedback from people who are listening to the podcast and number of people said the same thing as like, hey, drop the script. Yeah. And that was for me was so valuable. It's almost like permission to say, Okay, I can screw up. I can kind of forget one question or ask a question I never thought of before the interview. And then eventually, you get to a point where it's like, okay, you just have a conversation. It doesn't you don't really need to have questions prepared. You just talk to somebody and just be interested in what they're, what they're doing, and try to figure out what that story is, and then how you can learn from them. And right, but it's a process, right? But yeah, you're so right. It's just like, getting an email from somebody or, you know, an iTunes review. It really, it kind of pumps you up to do more and better for the for everyone.

AJ [15:55]
Yeah. And over time, you just sort of absorb that energy. not to get too hippy tippy here. It just becomes like a part of you. You just get into this feeling like, I just want to keep making better things. If not for other people, then for myself, it's sort of like this weird sense of feeling like you're actually moving forward. Yeah, yeah. And you're doing it through your own volition from the work that you're doing, the products you're creating, or whatever your product has to be. Yeah,

Omer Khan [16:23]
totally. And no issues with the hippy, tippy stuff. And it's like, you know, I'm in. I'm in Washington, and with the hippie state, right? So whatever you want to come over here, we can go more into that stuff. Oh, yeah,

AJ [16:35]
I can go way out there.

Omer Khan [16:36]
Okay. So you got HTML5 UP going, and you're kind of spending more time building these templates. And then the next business you launched, the product was Pixelarity. And so what does that do? What's that product about?

AJ [16:51]
So it is pretty much like the paid version of HTML5 UP. And in many ways, it wasn't really even my idea. I had a me kind of goes back to was saying last, I mean, the user feedback I got from HTML5 UP was just great. And, you know, motivating, but also had people asking, like, Hey, is there a way I could use this without attribution? Because you know, it looks a little weird. If I have old credit for some template site at the bottom or whatever. I was like, Okay, oh, you know, maybe send me a small tip or something, and then you can remove it like, okay, that's cool. And that's where that happened with enough frequency. And at the same time, people emailing me, you know, asking questions about people asking for support, and if they could pay me for and so I was like, it looks like people want to pay me money to do something, what can I do? So I basically, like, sounds like, what can I put together that kind of meets all these needs, you know, lets people use this stuff, without attribution, while also having, you know, giving them access to support, you know, in the end, in fairness, you know, me getting something out of it, because you know, my time isn't, you know, hundred percent free, I have to eat so, right. But it's same time at a bit more value on top of that. And so, from all those things, I was able to craft Pixelarity, which is pretty much it, you pay a flat amount, that gives you a perpetual license to use everything on the site, forever, attribution free, and then you choose a plan, the plan gives you x number of months to access downloads, or and or support. And if that runs out, no big deal, you can show us anything you've already downloaded. attribution free forever, because the license itself is perpetual, you're just losing access to support. And it adds a bunch of exclusive templates that you don't get an HTML5 UP. So it's everything on a show five-plus about 50 or so new templates that you couldn't get with a show five bucks. So it's a pretty decent deal for 19 bucks to get in at the three-month plan.

Omer Khan [18:48]
And that took off really well. So it's 19 bucks, one-off payment? Yeah, it's not a monthly thing, right?

AJ [18:54]
$19 for the perpetual license, and then three months of access to downloads and support. And again, so if that three months is up, that's okay. Anything you've already downloaded in that time, you can continue to use no big deal, you have to keep paying.

Omer Khan [19:08]
You just kept it really simple.

AJ [19:10]
Yeah, well, it's also because I like just, it's hard for me to keep track of very complicated things. So I make things simple for my own purposes to it's not all altruistic.

Omer Khan [19:21]
So 93 templates on Pixerlarity and did you design and create all of these?

AJ [19:27]
Probably about 70-80% of them, and I had another designer help me out with some of the other ones and, but with my, I guess, editorial layer at the end of it, just to make sure it kind of fit the feel of all the other ones. And then I had a couple of coders help me out. Again, I would train them in like the way I would code and then I went in their code after the fact and made sure everything was, you know, to my very stringent standards. So it worked out to be a pretty good deal. And it worked really well. And it, I think it gave people what they wanted out of like a paid version of HTML5 UP pretty much. And it's an interesting example of a product that I didn't really conceive of myself, as I said, it was just created as a way to kind of like, again, further give what my audience wanted, which was a paid version of this thing that also had some, you know, support component to it.

Omer Khan [19:31]
And I don't see much on html5 up other than you have like a banner at the bottom of the page, which says, you know hey Pixelarity, you can get unlimited access and whatever. And is that how people were finding Pixelarity and people who are choosing to pay? We're kind of doing that. It's like,

AJ [20:44]
Yeah, there's that. And I think when you go download, there's like a, hey, if you want to use a, again, an attribution credit free version of this go to Pixelarity. There's not much beyond that. I mean, I didn't do any marketing or any ads or anything like that. It's just just what it is.

Omer Khan [21:00]
How much money did you make? Or have you made from Pixelarity? Like, did you get a lot of sales?

AJ [21:06]
Yeah, I'd say probably at his peak. I mean, it was about 10, 12K a month or so I mean, at its peak, it was pretty good for what it was. It certainly like gave me enough of like a cushion to move on to the next thing, which was a lot more risky and a lot more involved in what I had previously been doing. But again, it really did give me a nice safety net, to move on to the next thing.

Omer Khan [21:32]
So how did you come up with the idea for Carrd?

AJ [21:35]
Also, for that it was a combination of basically, being kind of bored with just doing templates, because that, you know, that at that point, which I think was it was like middle of 20, early 2015, I think early 2015, is when I kind of came up the idea it was I had been doing templates and themes for years at that point, you know, at some point, you're just kind of like, there's only so much you can do for those, you kind of have to move on to the next level. And so I was thinking of some kind of product I could make that would put all of my skills to use that I had accumulated along the way, which was, you know, a pretty decent thing, because, you know, they go back to her saying, like learning things as I needed to learn them. At that point, I had learned everything from, you know, running servers, to databases, to back end program, to front end programming to design, you know, the whole the whole thing, I just wanted to pick a project that would combine all that stuff into one big project where I could really just lean in and just see how far I can go with everything I had. And I had a few different ideas that was playing around with and then one that kind of stuck with me and ended up being a good fit was the idea of a site builder. But in that same time, I was kind of concerned, it's like, well, you know, even early 2015, you had these big guys out there, like you know Squarespace and Wix and Webnode. It's like, I don't know, if I want to do something on that level, I don't think I could be one person, which was another kind of pre-record actually see what I could do. So and then the thanks to HTML5 UP actually kind of guided me in the right direction, specifically I had. And I'll just be honest, you back when I was, you know, really updating HTML5 UP on the regular I, there were times I was like, I need to just put something up there that, you know, doesn't take me too long to make quite honestly site and end up doing a few one page templates goes like one page, because the multiple page things are just a hell of a lot of work. So I was like, All right, I'll do a few like quick little one-page thing and see, you know, they look pretty, they work nice. And it takes me like a couple of hours to make. And the interesting thing is, I was looking at the download counts of those. And they were huge, like those really caught on like people apparently really liked the one-page stuff, which I had no idea. Like, it wasn't something that I was looking for. So I had no idea that that was such a big impact. So it was like, Okay, what if instead of trying to be like one of these bigger guys, and doing everything? What if I just really, really narrow down the scope of what I'm doing to just one page. Because from a technical standpoint, one page is a hell of a lot easier to deal with. And like, you know, shut down the pages, which is, you know, tons of stuff going on lots of content. So one page is very simple, very easy to manage for, you know, one person be building this thing. So ended up being like the perfect fit. Yeah, okay, I'm going to do a site builder, but for just one-page sites. And turns out in retrospect, that was a great idea. But it not only like saved me a ton of work a ton of time and resources to build the thing, but also just, it turned out to be a good idea that really caught on with a lot of people.

Omer Khan [24:43]
What did you build the product in? Like, oh,

AJ [24:47]
It's a I mean, I don't get too deep into the stack for various reasons. But it's mostly JavaScript.

Omer Khan [24:52]
Wow.

AJ [24:52]
which fits me just fine. Because if you do, I mean, if you see some of the later templates I did for HTML5 UP there pretty JavaScript. Granted, they use jQuery, but like, I started getting more into doing Vanilla JS type stuff. And can do a lot with JavaScript. It's kind of nuts. It's just become this weird Swiss Army Knife of the internet.

Omer Khan [25:14]
So are you fan a little of the JS thing? I have is I don't like these days, there's so much like, you know, talk about, you know, the cool kids who react and view and all this stuff. And, and then I the other day, I was looking at Basecamp, and it was like, they have their own JavaScript, kind of, like framework, I think school stimulus. I was like, well, there's still plenty of examples of people out there who are building great stuff. And they don't have to do more than, you know, use some Vanilla JS.

AJ [25:45]
Right. So in fairness, when I built Carrd originally, I wasn't quite as competence in Vanilla JS. So there is still quite a bit of jQuery in there, which you know, I'm not embarrassed or jQuery is awesome. I've not afraid to admit that. But yeah, like, the framework thing. I've ranted about it on Twitter, a few times, maybe a few times too many. But quite honestly, I don't have a problem with people using frameworks. I think frameworks are great. Whatever really gets you from your idea. It's actually building something, use whatever the helmet, I don't care, you know, do whatever you want. I'm not an ideal world when it comes to that stuff. I will say, however, that vanilla JS, you could do schooling that especially now that Internet Explorer is basically on the ground, like you can do so much with just plain JavaScript now, like you don't necessarily need a framework, and in many ways, a big fan of instead of trying to fit your product around a framework, because you know, frameworks are what makes the framework, the framework is just, it's almost like an ideology for how you do things. In that context, right? Yeah. So whatever your idea is for your product, you're having to basically stretch over that framework to get it to work somehow. So there are going to be times where you're sort of crashing into it, because it does things one way and you kind of wish it did things and other. So I'm almost a fan of you know if you can forego that situation, and just kind of build your own pseudo framework for your specific product or project of whatever, if that makes sense. So you're not trying to fit your idea around someone else's framework, you're building a framework specifically for your idea.

Omer Khan [27:31]
Right, right. Yeah, I have this site project, this app that I had built, and we just uses jQuery. And I keep saying to myself, Oh, I should kind of rebuild the front end with React or Vue.js. And then it's like, well, in order to do that the backend is like, Flask and Python. So I'd really have to kind of lose the template writing kind of piece of that and build API's around that. And then I kind of, like, keep digging this hole deeper and deeper about all this stuff that I should do. And then the reality is that, you know, actually, it works. And I could still keep using jQuery if I wanted to. And yeah, sometimes you just get caught in this thing about getting excited about the bells and whistles and the technology and, and trying to do things the way that everybody else is doing them. Like, because it's cool. But right now really need to

AJ [28:30]
know, and I think it's, I think it's something a lot of newer developers get hung up on because they're still there, you know, they're just getting into it. They hear all these buzzwords, everyone's saying, Oh, you should use this, you should use that. And they haven't quite already acquired the experience to be like, you know, no, I'm not going to use that I'm going to use this instead, you know, or I'm just going to use Vanilla JS, it's fine. You know, getting hung up on that is a great way to never actually ship anything. And I've seen so many people do that. And there are other places you're going to get hungry up when building a product. So why get hung up on that? You know?

Omer Khan [29:03]
Yeah, totally. Okay, so you kind of have the idea for Carrd. And you're like, Okay, I'm going to focus on one page, by the way, is it like, one page? That's the focus or like, technically, it's restricted to one page? Like, if I wanted to, like, Oh, can I create a second page?

AJ [29:19]
Okay, so it's, it's literally a single HTML file, like, fundamentally, Carrd is a static site generator. I mean, once you get to it, that's pretty much what it's doing. And it's generating a single HTML file for your site. Now, as far as having additional pages, well, it does have a, it has a feature called sections that lets you kind of simulate additional pages within the same single page, it works well actually ended up being a funny thing where I added that feature, and it ended up being used in ways that just blew me away, like, which I can get to later but like, what users do with what you make, it kind of just could really surprise you sometimes. And that was an example that

Omer Khan [30:03]
I like, an example like,

AJ [30:04]
What what people doing, for one thing I originally added just so like, Well, okay, so you want to have like a separate little about, quote unquote, page on your site. Okay, so you can use it for that. But I saw people using it for everything from like creating models, like pseudo models after like a form has been submitted. So you submit a form, and then this thing comes out that looks like an actual modal, but it's actually just a section that says, Thank you, and you click a button, it takes you back was like, wow, that's I never thought you could do that. But that makes sense that you totally can, or people using it to kind of make presentations, which is weird. Like, I've seen, like high school kids use Carrd to build school presentation things, which is nuts. Wow, cool. And I just, I just didn't expect it, you know. So I won't get too too far down that rabbit hole. But yeah, just seeing what users can do with what you make is what another motivating factor, which that just keeps you going?

Omer Khan [31:02]
Well, the one thing I realized about you, based on the very long conversation we had, before we did even any recording, was that all these rabbit holes, this usually something interesting down there. So maybe for the purposes of this podcast, will limit them, but I'm always happy to go down this rabbit hole with you. Yeah.

AJ [31:25]
Well, yeah, so there, there are plenty more will avoid going too deep on them, though. Yeah. Like you said,

Omer Khan [31:29]
Alright, so how long did it take you to build the first version of Carrd?

AJ [31:34]
Let's see. So I came up with the idea. And like, February, March of 2015, I started work on it. That summer, because I had some other stuff didn't care. I had a pre pre alpha, adjust the, what's called the generator side, which basically the static site generator portion of it took about couple weeks ago together. And then from there, I had a working pre alpha, I sent out to about dozen friends, by around on, say, October. So it just, it didn't take too long, actually. And if my `math is right, it's like, five months or so, to build the first version. Now granted, like compared to what you see today. Yeah, it's like, That thing was super primitive. But it was enough to kind of give people a sense of what I was trying to do. And I actually got a huge amount of really useful feedback, just from having this crappy prototype sent out for them to play with. And I very quickly, like discovered, you know, pain points and things that, you know, just didn't make sense things I needed to do things I needed to add. Like, for instance, the idea of having starter templates wasn't in at that point. In fact, it wasn't even something I was considering. Until my friends like, Yeah, it's great. But I'm not a designer, what the hell am I going to do with a text element or an image, you know, like, they have a look at it? And just like, it's just a blank screen? What are you going to help me here? So then it was like, okay, maybe it would make sense to have templates, which ended up being, you know, this great idea that is going to feel some other stuff coming soon. But you know, like, things like that I got out of that phase of the project. But yeah, about five, six months.

Omer Khan [33:16]
So you know, like, a lot of the times when, when people build a new product, there's always this, like, you start looking out in the market, and you look at other similar products or competitors. And you're like, Wow, that's a really high buff for all the things that I should have. And it's easy to get sucked into that, where, you know, you just feel like you got to put so much into this product for it to be decent, or for people to want to pay it, you know, get people to pay attention to it. And the reality is that a lot of the times that, you know, I've spoken to, you know, a lot of founders, the first version of the product they often start with, it's not that great. And it's just kind of maybe solves this more problem. And there's just still a lot of things that that you know, it doesn't do. And so is there like something like, when you were launching this, like, did you have that struggle where you felt like there were all these things that you wanted to add? But you didn't. And now you look back and sort of say, yeah, that was a smart thing for me to sort of take that approach. Like, what's some of that experience of wisdom, we can share with people who are kind of like struggling with that dilemma right now.

AJ [34:27]
So this won't apply to everybody. But at least in my case, I did not have this problem at all. Because from the get go, the whole reason why I did this project was to challenge myself and do things my own way to see what of my own ideas would work and what wouldn't work, I didn't really have any interest in looking at the competition and just mimicking what they were doing, which is fine. For some products, where you're trying to be competitive in a specific space, you will need to do that to know what features people look for. In my case, I wanted to do something entirely new. Whether or not it worked or not. So for me, it ended up being a big benefit. Because I don't have that stress of trying to figure out, oh, what is you know, this company doing or that company, I just look at a problem that comes my way and then solve it in the way that I would solve it without really looking elsewhere. And, again, doesn't apply to everybody. But it is a very freeing feeling to not have to keep worrying about what everyone else is doing. And you just focusing on the thing that you're doing in front of you.

Omer Khan [35:33]
Yeah, that's great advice. And I think if people can do that, it takes a lot of pressure and stress off in many ways. Right.

AJ [35:41]
Just and in fairness. I mean, again, the reason why I say it doesn't apply to everyone's, because not only is it a way depends on the product and category that you're in, but also, you know, are you self funded? Are you bootstrapping? Or are you do you have investors? Is this going to be your full-time gig? If that's the case, you know, full-time gig isn't like you're quitting a job to do listen, you have bills to pay, you're going to need to be a little bit more conscious of what the markets doing. You can't just do what I'm doing. Yeah. So I can't stress that enough. I don't want people just going out there saying, Well, I'm just going to build a product, not look at it, what else is doing so okay, just make sure that all the other variables in that equation line up for that as well as they did for me, right? If not, then there's nothing wrong with looking at what the competition is doing. I don't want people making you know, rash judgment, just because you know, some dude on a podcast is talking about how awesome it is for him.

Omer Khan [36:31]
Yeah. And again, to remind everyone, you didn't have that pressure, because you were still generating some decent money from pixel clarity. Yeah, that helps so much. And so this is just kind of more like a fun project. It wasn't like, this is I'm building this card thing. And this is going to be the business and I'm going all in and it's got to work,

AJ [36:52]
right? And it's not like I went to friends and family said, Hey, guys, can you give me some seed money? So I could do this idea, or it's not like I went to investors or anything. It's like, it was just, it was just the thing that worked. It worked. If it didn't, it didn't, you know, I did not have the pressure that other people have. And I am very cognizant of those situations that people are in. So again, don't think that my my way is the is the way that the everyone should, because it's certainly not.

Omer Khan [37:15]
Let's talk about marketing, because your whole marketing kind of approach. It was really interesting with card. And typically, you know, when we think start thinking about a product like this, and how we're going to market it will have a whole bunch of things, you know, I'm going to run Facebook ads, I'm gonna start doing content marketing, I'm going to build a blog, I'm going to build an email list. You didn't do any of that, right?

AJ [37:45]
No.

Omer Khan [37:46]
What did you do?

AJ [37:47]
I basically just tweeted it out. But oh, yeah, I'm done with this thing here. Go check it out. And part of it is because what I was just talking about, I didn't have that pressure of having, like, this didn't have to succeed, you know, like, so when you have that option, which I It sounds very, almost tushy really like just didn't have to succeed. So I'm not going to go nuts over, you know, trying to line up a marketing strategy or anything I just tweeted out at a sizable, I forget exactly how that sizable Twitter following at that point, I was like, Hey, I'm done with this thing that I've been working on, go check it out. And then it just kind of started rolling on from there. Now, it'd be unfair to not to say that part of what really kicked it up to the next level, however, was once it got put up on product now that kind of blew up. That's really when it moved to the next level. And so I can't thank Ryan Hoover and his team enough for putting I think together and really giving products like mine a place to really show off even with as a small of an investment, if any I put into marketing, a product like that can blow up so intensely on a platform like is and he really built something special there. So but you didn't put it on Product Hunt, or you didn't have some kind of launch plant. If I sir, is one of my followers actually hunted it on there. But before it was actually launched, so it was just a coming soon page and it never actually got featured. So I was like, Well, shit, man, like it's not even a thing yet. So I actually sent a DM to one of the folks that worked at Product Hunt. So hey, I actually just launched this thing for real now. And one of my followers kind of jumped the gun and posted it before it was already so it didn't get consideration to be featured. I was wondering if you guys taken a look at it very quickly got back to comply. So Oh, yeah, it'll go up tomorrow. Oh, sweet. And then that day, it was the day that like, the thing just blew up. And it was incredible because it gave me a glimpse of what was to come in terms of how like, just the volume and scale and things that it's interesting when you get featured on a place like product time or other places product don't particularly get so focused. It is a preview for for scale, which I'll get into later. But it really does show you where the cracks are and the things that could easily break in something that you've made. And yeah, that was a great experience. But yeah, that was pretty much the marketing, I did tweeting it out and it getting put on Product Hunt.

Omer Khan [40:06]
So as far as Twitter goes, you have like, over 50,000 followers, and I see like a lot of people who have like, you know, 100,000, 150,000 followers, but they're also following people, right? So they just playing that game where it's like, keep following a bunch of people, some will follow back, the ones that don't on follow the follow a bunch of more people. And you keep building up that way.

AJ [40:36]
You have a friend who actually has a script to the script. I don't know, I didn't know that this is a thing. But that's interesting that people do that.

Omer Khan [40:43]
And so how did you build your following? Like, before you got to the point where you sent that tweet about his Carrd? Like, what were you doing on there that started to build this following.

AJ [40:54]
So that I would say, all this entirely came from having pretty probably the placement of my Twitter account on HTML5 UP. I had, I think, even to this day, there's a button up there that says, you know, follow me for updates, like new stuff. And it turns out people like free stuff. So they ended up following me. You know, whenever I post an update to HTML5 UP, I also tweet about it. And so that was just a fast way for them to get that notification, all came from that. And from there, it kind of grew from there, though once you know, people figure out maybe this guy has something more to him than just making site templates, you know.

Omer Khan [41:28]
right. And as far as Product Hunt, when you kind of again, it only went up there because your friend hunted it too soon.

AJ [41:41]
He hunted it too soon as and it was just a it was literally just a coming soon page. There's nothing there. So of course it didn't get featured, it wouldn't make sense.

Omer Khan [41:48]
So the only work you did there was to send that email asking them to reconsider it once was like,

AJ [41:54]
Yeah, DM'd one of the folks I was like, hey, yeah. And they were cool enough to reply very quickly, and then got reconsidered. And then it went up next day, which was pretty awesome.

Omer Khan [42:03]
And what did those those two things do? Like? Were you selling Carrd at that time where it was like, Here's just available, you can sign up free, and I'll figure out how to charge for it.

AJ [42:13]
So I did, I did put some thought into this. So I actually, so to two components to this first thing was

Omer Khan [42:18]
I like the way you said that, like I did put some thought into this.

AJ [42:21]
Yes. Shocking as it may seem, I do occasionally put thought into things. And this was one of those times where I really focused and put some thought into a thing. So the first thing was because actually HTML5 UP went up on Product Hunt. And it's very early days, and I noticed a huge spike in traffic on Sunday, I was like Where the hell is this coming from. And I saw it was coming from the site called Product Hunt. And I tracked down it's like holy shit like this, this is pretty awesome that this thing exists. And it helps elevate the profile of these products that people would otherwise not know about. So I knew that if car got feature, though it I don't know, I didn't know if it would get as good of an effect as html5 up had. But it would get a good bit of traction from that day. So I want to maximize what I would get out of it. So the two things I did was the first was Carrd has a you can use it without signing up. As in, you can go to carrd.co/build, pick out a template or don't pick it up, what do you want to do, and actually just build a site, you don't have to type anything, you don't have to give an email, you have to do anything, you just build whatever you want, just play with it. If you like it, like if you like what you just made, then you can publish it, put in your email and all that stuff. But if you didn't like it, you just go with that we were talking about it before. But he, I think the correct term is low friction. Yeah. So you can very casually just without even touching your keyboard, just accidentally build yourself a website, which is pretty cool. So I knew having something like that, because I and this is just from personal experience, I hated going and I want to try this out, oh, it wants my name and email and a phone number or something like I just want to see what this thing is, I don't want to give you all my information just to try it out, you know, because then you're just going to bother me later. So forget that. And at the same time, I didn't want to put up like a video, making a video or something demonstrating a product like screw that I don't have time for that, I'm just going to let people try it for themselves. And I'll try to design the architecture of this thing such that you can do that you can try it out, before even signing up. And so I did that. And that turned out to be a good idea. And then the second thing I did was, I made sure there was actually a way for you to pay for this thing if you want. So I had to come up with a what ended up calling a pro plan with additional features that you could get access to. Originally, it was just one plan $19 a year, that plan still exists, there are just other plans that you can get now they're cheaper and more expensive. So I made sure both of those things were ready to go before I started putting out the word for Carrd. And so when it launched on Product Hunt that day, yeah, that was insane. It really took off, because people were able to just go in casually, and try out the product without having to give up any information. And it turns out that when you let people do that, it's much better than showing them you know, some frickin intro video or demo video or like having a really long and lengthy marketing page explains what the product is. It turns out just letting them use it is the best marketing you could possibly have. If your product is good, apparently. And yeah, those are like the two major things I did the two major things I put thought into everything else. I didn't put any thought into it. So just get that out there.

Omer Khan [45:36]
And it was the product good at that point, like I mentioned about the podcast, like, do you look back at that first version and sort of cringe about things that it did badly? Or didn't do at all?

AJ [45:47]
So the thing is, like, I actually, I don't have that thing where I look back at my old work and cringe. I look at it as like, Oh, I learned how to do this back, man. That's cool. Like it is very little I look back at and just like I wish it didn't do that. Yeah. So even like oh, old build of Carrd I actually have, like I have the pre alpha. And then even the pre pre alpha. So loaded up on a server here just to check out every once in a while. Good. I did some screenshots for some something I put out a while ago. Yeah, even looking at it. Now. It's not embarrassing in any way. It's just know, this is where I was. And here's where I am today. And so I guess as long as where I am now is greater than where I was. It's all good. It's really nice to see that progress and being able to look back at it and say, Oh, look, I learned how to do all these things and built this thing at that point. Now what I do is a lot better, but it's cool that I was able to figure this out back then. And all that so No, there's there's no cringe. It might make other people cringe. Yeah, but it doesn't make me cringe.

Omer Khan [46:44]
I feel like I'm in a therapy session here. It's like, No, no, actually, yeah, he has got a better way to think about this. But it's true. It's like, you know, if you're have that sort of learning mindset and sort of a kind of more growth-focused, and you just saying, hey, it's not about you're looking back and, and sort of cringing about it, but it's more about Am I making progress? am I learning? Am I getting better? Then that's all good. Right? Right. Whereas, but it's still easy, right? It's just like, it's for a lot of people. It's like you put stuff out there and you're always like, man, are people gonna like to think this is crap.

AJ [47:21]
Anyway, I do anyway. Well, the nice thing about Product Hunt today is that I can go back to that day that post up there, which I believe March of 2016, I think is when I went up there. I go there and I can see not only the uploads, but also the comments people left compared to what Carrd is today. Yeah, it was kind of crap compared to what it is today. It's not it wasn't for the time. It wasn't terrible, but relative to what it is now. Yeah, it's kind of crap. But again, it goes back to was saying before getting that feedback loop from your users getting feeling like yes, I accomplish this, people appreciate it now moving forward, like unable to the you know, take that and move forward. And also criticism like I got, I certainly had some people, posts there, you know, post comments, or even email me saying, well, you should do this. And I was like, Okay, this is cool. Like I'm getting things that I can, you know, use as to like, climb forward and improve and get better. And, you know, because it's not just about getting good feedback. It's about getting any feedback. And as long as it's not. Someone just said, Well, your shit sucks, you know, just for no reason at all. It's good. It's all good. When you learn you move forward, you make even better things. So I can go back, look at the very earliest alpha, I have a Carrd, not cringe it and be like, wow, it's amazing how far I've come since that day, like just knowing what I know. Now, I would probably done this in this different but I'm glad I was at that point when I was just as I'm glad I'm at this point where I'm at now. Yeah. Yeah. not to get too philosophical. I tend to go off on these.

Omer Khan [48:47]
Yeah, no, no, no, I get you. And you weren't charging a lot. For quite like you said 19, $19. a year? And, yeah. Now I think you have a plan, which starts from $9 a year?

AJ [49:03]
Yeah.

Omer Khan [49:04]
So how did you come up with the pricing? And like, how did revenue grow after the tweet, and the Product Hunt?

AJ [49:11]
So I'll answer the second thing was revenue, sort of, like kind of got a huge boost one product, posted it. And then, you know, obviously, like every other product that gets featured on Product Hunt is huge surge initially, and then it kind of goes down, but then tapered off. And then it was sort of like, definitely higher than the baseline it had prior to what was there before. But then, over the months that followed, as I worked on, it added more features that you know, the sort of trending upwards and upward and sort of been in that mode ever since, you know, for less than 100 bucks a day to you know, close to 1000 a day, you know, and that kind of thing. But as far as how I came up with pricing, again, part of it was, I didn't need to make a whole lot office early on. So I didn't have you know, I have to make this much to break even because quite honestly, overhead was basically almost nothing, it was super cheap. At that point. Now, it's a lot more now, because I have a lot more servers and a lot more infrastructure in place, because there's just that many more sites, back then not much in a way of cost. So I just didn't have to price it super high. And I wasn't really greedy. So whatever. But also, the pricing was, as I looked at it fair for what you're getting for that actually, I did look at the competition to an extent just to figure out, I don't want to charge too much or too little, I just wanted to put it somewhere where people felt this was fair. And 19 bucks a year felt fair for what Carrd offered at the time, which was not a whole lot. I mean, you couldn't really build super, really quite honestly, the elaborate stuff that people make now, you couldn't do back then. So it felt fair. So 19 bucks a year was, I think, a good fit at that time. But you know, since then, as you mentioned, I've got even cheaper plan. But I also have more expensive plans now. Because I've added more and more complex features on top of what was original there. And so I figured, well, it makes sense. Instead of just raising the price of that plan, I can add additional plans. So people can pay for what they actually need, rather than you know, making them all pay the same thing. And as far as like that $9 your plan that was actually I added that mostly for a an interesting demographic that began using Carrd mostly younger people, which was interesting, building little fan sites for various things, but they wanted a few more features than what the free plan offered. You know, but they didn't need all the stuff that came with normal for a plan. So I was like, Well, okay, I'll make a slightly cheaper plan, with basically none of those pro features that you get in a normal for a plan, but also with some of the limitations of the basic free plan taken away and actually caught on. So I'm surprised actually even cannibalize any of the other plans. So that's pretty great.

Omer Khan [51:51]
Well, and then so beyond the tweet and the Product Hunt stuff that we talked about, what other kind of marketing? did you do?

AJ [52:00]
Word of mouth, I guess is what I really rely on. And I think again, part of it is the one other thing that I put thought into, which was having the friction bus or low friction, no friction,

Omer Khan [52:11]
or whatever,

AJ [52:13]
whatever it is that got you into the product, like, Yeah, whatever. Like that really helps. Because then someone can say, hey, you should check out this, someone can build the site. And okay, well, on the free sites, there's a thing at the bottom that says made with Carrd. So if you see a site that's built with Carrd, oh, this is pretty cool. You know, whatever. And you click on that out of curiosity, within 30 seconds, you could be building a site of your own without having signed up. So there's sort of almost like this flow from like stumbling upon Carrd one way or another either through word of mouth or through a link from someone else's site. And then getting to where you're actually building a site yourself with very little friction along the way. So that I think is probably been the biggest driver since day one, and probably continues to be as well since again, I'm not really doing any other marketing. So well, I guess this this podcast and with the marketing, I guess so. Yeah, maybe I'm doing more than I think.

Omer Khan [53:06]
Yeah. But then I reached out to you.

AJ [53:09]
Fair, Fair. Okay.

Omer Khan [53:10]
Okay, because I was like, This is such an interesting story. It's not like, you know, you were kind of like pitching. Hey, I'm going to do this round of podcasts and it's not a thing. Yeah. They do that man. Yeah, there there are people who will you can hire to help you get on podcast.

AJ [53:26]
Like an agent? Well, yeah. That's awesome. Show me the money.

Omer Khan [53:31]
Yeah. Okay. All right. So we should wrap up soon. But I wanted to talk a little bit about like. Okay. You talked about like, the multiple hats and wearing, you know, these things? What is your typical day look like? How much time do you spend on the product every day? Obviously, not doing much marketing, but you're doing all the support yourself? And what other stuff do you have to do on a daily basis?

AJ [53:54]
So my day typically looks like what the first part usually is. So port, and content moderation, which, like I mentioned, early on, and podcast, my business partner handles the bulk of that now, but there's some stuff that is indeterminate, that was still trying to figure out what we need to do with it. It's not like we get a lot of crazy stuff posted, but there's still some, you know, areas that border on, you know, is this spam, is this is questionable in some certain way. And what do we do with it. So those things get flagged by him for me to look at. And then I look at those, and we don't get ton, but you know, I still check them every day. I do actually. And I do support again later on today. But then for the rest of the day, when I'm working on a product, it's just whatever has to be worked on at that point, which right now is as of the recording of this podcast is getting our payment system ready for you know, the new SCA, regulations that are kicking in, you know, because Stripe had to basically redo their entire API, and also some other pretty large things that I figured I may as well do at the same time, which I think people will really appreciate once it launches. But then it really just depends on what happens, the work done so much. For a project like Carrd, there's just so much I could be doing with it. Like I have a few dozen to do list for every one for each aspect of Carrd. And it's just there's so much there. Like every time I think of something, I just add it or something, anytime someone suggests something I'll consider and if I think it's something that will work, I'll add it. And I will basically never run out of things to work on. So long as I'm working on Carrd myself. Now, I think the multiple hats thing that can only be and this might be going a little bit off topic for your question. But at some point, I don't think that's going to be sustainable, because just the sheer growth of the product over time, if I look at just year over year is just a crazy increase. Who knows where it's going to be next year, there's a good chance I will not be able to just sustain this on my own or even with my business partner handling content moderation, because it will just no matter how much automation you add, at some point, you're just going to need to add more bodies to the next, which for a guy like me is actually kind of not something that I really want to do. It's something that I would have to do and not because the product will fail. But also because I just want to maintain a certain level of service for our pretty sizable user base at this point. And also, you know, new users coming in, I don't want the quality of the products that go down because I'm insistent on just running this myself like I have to be realistic about it.

Omer Khan [56:24]
So you kind of subscribe to like to the company of one type mindset?

AJ [56:28]
Yeah. Well, I mean, I was actually on if you're referring to Paul Jarvis, he was actually on the podcast as well. Yeah, to an extent but I think there is a depending on the product. So some products, like my buddy Pieter Levels who runs Nomadlist, that's, that's pretty much a solo affair. I mean, he has some people helping him out here there. But it's pretty much him on it. product like that, I think is much easier to run and scale with just one or a few people, then maybe a product like Carrd that has a lot of user content. I think that's really where the delineation is, is like, could Twitter exist with one person running it? Hell, no, there's no way because you just have with more users and more user generated content, the more overhead there is to deal with that content, in terms of not just moderation, but also storage and management and backups, and things like that. Like, if there's one mistake I made early on, it's that I didn't think this would be as big as it became, which I know is it is almost like a humble brag. But it really is a serious consideration because there are some scale decisions I would have made. Now I did take scale, kind of into account early on. But not to the extent that I should have, which I think was you know, Paul Graham, I think he's he says, do things that don't scale. And I and I'm pretty sure more than once said, do things that don't scale, but kind of plan for it, you know, get screwed. And I plan for it. But not enough? I think so. Over the last like six nine months is pretty much me being pretty hardcore about doing that I finally scaling the things that need to be scale now increasing our infrastructure, redoing our entire payment system, redoing how a whole bunch of other things are done under the hood that users won't actually notice. But they may eventually feel because things will just run faster and better. So and I totally forgot your question because of your ago with one of my rants, but

Omer Khan [58:32]
I'm going to ask you like something else you just kind of reminded me of is like, are you do all the support through Twitter DM's?

AJ [58:40]
No, through email, although I feel like I tell people like look, just contact me However, because at this point, it's all going to the same place anyway. So just if you want to tweet at me or DM me or email, or use the form on the site, you know, whatever, it's going to be the same person replying to you.

Omer Khan [58:53]
Does that go into the Help Desk system? Or it's just like an email?

AJ [58:57]
No, it's it's just if you DM me, we talked over DM. If you email me, we talked over email, for now, again, but that's another thing that's going to have to scale because at some point, I can't answer 100 inquiries a day. You know, it's just without that just being my full time job, which you can't be because I'm also codings. Yeah, yeah. That's why I think the solo bootstrapper archetype, if I can even call it that, I think kind of, it's not realistic past a certain scale. I think you just you just can't do it. And I think there's one thing I've learned in the last three years of the three years now, three, four years of doing this at this point. It's that, yeah, you can't do it all on your own, at least not forever. So just be ready for that.

Omer Khan [59:41]
That's good advice. All right, we should wrap up. So now we're going to get into the tough part. We're going to do the lightning round. Okay. Okay. So I'm gonna ask you several questions. Just try to answer them as quickly as you can. All right. All right. What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

AJ [59:58]
Well, I think Paul Graham's thing, do things that don't scale in general, that is a great idea.

Omer Khan [1:00:03]
And listen to it.

AJ [1:00:04]
Yeah, hero.

Omer Khan [1:00:06]
What book would you recommend to our audience? And why?

AJ [1:00:09]
Oh, I really read any books relevant at the top.

Omer Khan [1:00:14]
So what what do you like reading?

AJ [1:00:15]
Honestly, I haven't had all the time to read. I didn't really read like a lot of fiction when I get a chance, like, you know, just a lot of William Gibson stuff pretty big into the cyberpunk that genre. Yeah, nothing really pertinent to what we're talking about, unfortunately. So I guess I should have heard a little on that.

Omer Khan [1:00:30]
What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

AJ [1:00:35]
I'd say a willingness to kind of put in the work yourself. Now, it doesn't matter what it is just you know, that support, be wi`lling to support if it's coding they want me to just coding, especially early on. Now, at some point, you can put other people in those roles, but early on, you need to be willing to at least do it yourself. if for no other reason to understand what's what goes into those things.

Omer Khan [1:00:56]
What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

AJ [1:01:00]
I'd say just having hobbies that aren't computer related, you know, like, just like exercising or running or or your bike ride. Anything that takes me away from screens is probably been the best thing for me since doing this, because it's just it helps to just take your mind out of the context that it seems to be in, you know, 10 plus hours out of every day.

Omer Khan [1:01:20]
I just started playing golf a few months ago.

AJ [1:01:23]
Oh, nice. Yeah. I don't know if I'd be much of a golfer. But it does. It does kind of fun.

Omer Khan [1:01:27]
I suck so badly.

AJ [1:01:30]
More about the fun. Yeah, exactly.

Omer Khan [1:01:32]
As long as I'm getting better. Right? Right, exactly. What's that new, a crazy business idea you'd love to pursue if you had the extra time?

AJ [1:01:38]
I think something in VR, strangely enough, I was actually kind of down on the whole VR thing up until I tried out my friends Oculus quest a couple months ago. And then five minutes later, I ordered one. So it was like, there's something there. I don't know if it's fully developed yet. It just seems like we're eating around the edges of something really cool.

Omer Khan [1:02:00]
Yeah, yeah, that's a separate conversation. I have a few thoughts on that. What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

AJ [1:02:08]
Oh, so I've been designing like site templates and stuff for four years now. And I've actually HTML5 UP it was actually wasn't the first time I started giving them away for free, I put them up on other sites. And since I've been doing it for so long, I've actually come across sites just searching for other things using my templates from way back when so apparently, my old crap litters the internet, which is kind of fun to think, in a way. It's like plastic that never did like it decomposes.

Omer Khan [1:02:37]
Right, love that. And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

AJ [1:02:41]
I'd say just being outside, you know, kind of goes back to the habit thing that just like, just kind of enjoying life like trying not taking this too seriously, which again, I understand is a luxury. That is somewhat unique to my situation. But I think, you know, everyone can just benefit from occasion just dialing it back down and really putting it all in perspective, why you doing what you're doing? Is it really as important as you know, other things in your life, like, you know, your family or your health and whatnot, and just try to enjoy existing outside of whatever it is that your occupation happens to be?

Omer Khan [1:03:18]
Yeah, I love that.

AJ [1:03:20]
I don't know if that's a passion, but it kind of isn't me.

Omer Khan [1:03:22]
Well, yeah, I think it is. You pass. Alright. Alright. Cool. Alright. So if people want to find out more about Carrd, they can go to carrd.co. That's where the double R?

AJ [1:03:36]
Yes. It was trendy back then. To also try to find a name really so hard for like,

Omer Khan [1:03:43]
Oh, yeah. Tell about it.

AJ [1:03:44]
For those who are actually interested, there is a write up I did about a year after I launched Carrd it is themakingof.carrd.co again, with two R's. We actually go into the whole name thing and why Carrd is the name that it has today. And how, how that was the whole cluster and in unto itself.

Omer Khan [1:04:01]
I didn't know you had that site. Just, it's the making of Carrd?

AJ [1:04:08]
Yeah , just themakingof.carrd.co. See what I did there. It's very clever.

Omer Khan [1:04:15]
Okay, I got it. Yeah. themakingof.carrd.co with the double R Okay. Yeah, .co. Yeah. Okay, cool. I'll, put that on the shownotes.

AJ [1:04:22]
Yep. And sounds like you didn't do your research.

Omer Khan [1:04:25]
I know. I know I've been. And then if people want to go to HTML5 UP, it's HTML5up.net

AJ [1:04:33]
or .com. I finally got that years ago.

Omer Khan [1:04:36]
All right.

AJ [1:04:36]
Not that it matters.

Omer Khan [1:04:37]
And pixelarity.com. Yeah, that's it. And if people want to get touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

AJ [1:04:45]
Twitter @ajlkn. Or just email [email protected] So that's, you know, whatever.

Omer Khan [1:04:54]
Sweet.

AJ [1:04:54]
My dams are open on Twitter, if you want to say hi, or complain or whatever it is you want to do. That's fine.

Omer Khan [1:05:00]
Yeah. Cool. That's great. All right. That was great. Thanks for joining me, man. That was great.

AJ [1:05:06]
I really appreciate it man. Had a great time.

Omer Khan [1:05:08]
Wish you all the best. Take care.

AJ [1:05:10]
Thank you.

Omer Khan [1:05:11]
Cheers.

Omer Khan [1:05:12]
All right. Thanks for listening. I really hope you enjoyed the interview, you can get to the show notes by going to theSaaSpodcast.com, where you'll find the summary of the episode and a link to other resources we discussed. If you enjoyed the episode, then please consider subscribing. And if you're in a good mood, consider leaving a rating and review to show your support for the show. Thanks for listening. Until next time, take care.

The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.