Where does Indie Hacking ideas come from? 👀
Often times a “spark of genius” or “deep insight” is overrated and simply executing on an idea birthed on the premise of scratching your own itch can literally be the foundation of a business....
In the previous issue on What is Indie Hacking, I introduced Indie Hacking and also presented some notable indie hackers amongst us, so if you haven’t read that issue, please do so :)
If you are new to indie hacking, a question that might be on top of your mind is “What ideas do I work on?”
As always, we are going to cite real world indie hackers and how they got their ideas but first, let’s see what Pieter Levels - an indie hacking legend - have to say about where ideas come from 👇🏾
Get an idea from problems in your own life. If you don’t have problems that are original enough, become a more original person. Don’t build products that are solutions in search of a problem - Pieter Levels
With his usual tough love 😅, Pieter is hinting on what I’ve believed for years and it’s how I approach doing indie hacking and this is…
Scratch your own itch
To “scratch your own itch” means to create solutions for problems you already have.
In my opinion, scratching your own itch is a very sure way to get ideas to work on as an indie hacker.
When you scratch your own itch, you are user 0 - the first user - of your product.
You are not building a product that is a solution in search of a problem, rather you are solving a pain in your life.
Don’t build a solution in search of a problem, rather solve a pain in your life.
Remember the saying “have a taste of your own medicine”? When you scratch your itch, you use the solution you want others to use.
I honestly can’t trust an indie hacker who don’t use the product they are building.
I think I’ve known Kitze for almost 5 years now and I really love the way he does indie hacking.
When Kitze got tired of switching between devices in Chrome when testing out the responsiveness of the websites he was working, he built “just a react component that loops through iframe” to help him with that.
Above you see the crude version 0.0.1 of what later became Sizzy - The Browser for web developers.
I have been using Sizzy for a while now and I will not build and test websites any other way.
I know for a fact that Kitze was able to iterate on Sizzy because he was solving a problem he had.
Born out of desperate necessity to stop embarrassing ourselves in front of our clients, the story of how Basecamp was born is likely your story, too. - 37Signals
Here is what Jason, said about why they built Basecamp 👇🏾
People often ask me why we built Basecamp. They’ve never seen anything like it before, so they’re curious where the idea came from.
I wish I could credit a spark of genius, or some deep insight. But I can’t. Truth is, we built Basecamp out of desperate necessity. We needed it bad. Without it, we were embarrassing ourselves.
Way back when, we used to be a design firm. As we grew, we kept taking on more and more projects. We thought we could handle it, while still providing the same level of service, but we couldn’t. We were fooling ourselves. Sound familiar?
Understand: often times a “spark of genius” or “deep insight” is overrated and simply executing on an idea birthed on the premise of scratching your own itch can literally be the foundation of a thriving profitable business.
Make something that already exists better
Another place ideas come from is making something that already exists better. You’ve probably seen products based solely on this idea and of course with a combo of the makers scratching their own itch.
Let’s look at a couple of products that was created with this idea.
Hey is 37Signals’ take on emails and I love it. They took on email services like Gmail, Outlook, etc that already existed and made it better.
It turns out a lot of people like it so much - myself included - that they stopped using “free” alternatives like Gmail and started paying for Hey. Yes, Hey is that good.
There already existed more than a handful of SQL clients when Matthew after being frustrated with what already existed decided to build Beekeeper Studio - a SQL editor I have come to love and use when I’m interacting with both production and local databases.
Here is what Matthew had to say about why he built Beekeeper Studio:
I'm not a DBA or a server administrator, but I build software for a living, so I have to interact with databases on a daily basis.
I got frustrated that there wasn't a straightforward and approachable cross-platform SQL client I could use. Sure there are lots of java-powered tools aimed at power-users with a million buttons and tabs, but they're not pleasant to use. I loved Sequel Pro on MacOS, but that's no good when working on Linux, or with SQLite, Postgres, or SQL Server.
So in 2019 I started working on Beekeeper Studio. It took almost a year of (skant) evening and weekend time to launch the first version in early 2020.
You can see that Matthew wanted a cross-platform SQL client that didn’t look as if it was made for DBAs or server administrator, in other words, he wanted to make what already existed better.
It turns out that he wasn’t all that unique in his taste for a better SQL client and even this author wanted a client that’s also simple and looked as if it was made for developers too.
I’m pretty sure at this point you might think the world doesn’t need another web browser because there is no shortage of them. From Google’s Chrome to Microsoft’s Edge and every other browser in between.
However, the good folks at The Browser Company didn’t think so. In fact, they thought they could make a better browser and as I write this issue in the Arc browser they made, I dare to think they were right.
Arc is a new take on what a web browser should be and its something unlike any browser you’ve used in the past.
I think it was even too novel I hated it the first time I used it but after a while, it’s now my default browser and I love the experience.
More reading, listening, or watching…
Watch How to Build a Startup Without Funding by Pieter Levels talk by Pieter Levels.
Where we came from - the story of why Basecamp was created by 37Signals
About Beekeeper Studio by Matthew Rathbone