>_ Introducing monote

Today is a special day for me:
After 6 months of hard work I’m finally launching monote.

I quit my job in October last year to learn how to code and build something of my own and monote is the result of these last few months!

So what is monote?
I often stumble upon interesting products on the web, but then can’t find them again later. I used to be a heavy user of Svpply back in the day, but never found a good alternative when it was shut down (RIP). I’ve tried to use alternatives like Pocket, Pinterest or Kit but none of these tools ever really worked for me.

So I decided to built my own tool: monote is a bookmarking app for products. It’s a little Chrome Extension that lives in your browser and whenever you see something interesting you can quickly add it to your Wants.

Instead of just having one big wishlist, you can organize your products in different collections.

Here some of mine:

Books I Want to Read
Furniture I Like (I just moved into a new flat)
Things That Make Me More Productive

I also started using monote to keep track of how much stuff I own:

You can also build collections based on articles, videos, books or podcasts: I often find myself listening to podcasts or reading blog articles that mention a lot of products and wish there was a quick way to find and save them.

Here are a few examples:

The Marc Andreessen Reading List
Blue Bottle Brewing Tools
Tim Ferriss’ best purchases under $100

I’m a total list junkie – so all collections on monote are also available as sortable lists.

Here is a collection of all products listed in Tools of Titans, for example. You can sort it alphabetically by product name, comment (the different interviewees in this case), product category, price or popularity (number of people on monote who Want the item).

I’m lousy coder and this is literally the first time I’m launching anything, so please excuse any bugs. This launch will hopefully give me some insight into what’s working and – more importantly – what isn’t. Once those things are fixed, I want to add some additional features. Here’s what’s on my to-do list:

• Try to get the extension to work on all sites
• Custom columns for collections
• Search
• Ability to Add/Want or Fork collections
• Firefox support

Okay, enough chit-chat. Head over to monote and give it a spin!

Let me know what you think over at Twitter or add your feedback to this Product Hunt thread.

>_ What I’ve been up to

It’s been almost 6 months since I quit my job – time for a more detailed post about what I’ve been up to since then.

When I left Google in October last year to start something of my own, I didn’t have a clear plan of what exactly I actually wanted to do: I didn’t know if I wanted to work as a solo-entrepreneur or with other people. I didn’t know any potential co-founders and I didn’t know where I would find them or what qualities to look for in them. I didn’t know if I should start a lifestyle business or raise venture capital. I didn’t know how much I would have to make for a lifestyle business to be sustainable and I didn’t know how to raise money. I didn’t know how to build a product nor a company. And this is exactly why I wanted to give it a try.

Pieter Levels posted a good tweet storm recently about the right time to quit your job. While I generally agree with Pieter’s conclusion that you shouldn’t rush into it, I also know a lot of people (including myself) who don’t have the necessary time or dedication to get their side projects to that revenue point where you can easily make the switch. I know that I would have probably used this as yet another excuse to go all-in. Instead, I decided to save up enough to be able to survive for about 18 months. If you live a minimalistic lifestyle and take advantage of geographic arbitrage those savings don’t have to be as high as most people think.

I had an idea for a product for quite some time, so I decided to just start building that and see what would happen along the way. I had built websites in the past and did some coding courses, but never actually designed and built a software product from scratch, so this was also a good way to learn how to code and find out where my boundaries were.

Over the past couple of months I hacked together a little app called monote, which lets you bookmark and organize products you find on the web. I will follow-up a separate blog post with more details about the product and my motivation behind it. While building monote I lived in a bunch of different cities, switched co-working spaces often to meet different people and reached out to a bunch of entrepreneurs and investors to seek advice.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1/ I’m not solo-entrepreneur
I do like working on my own – but I just enjoy working with other people a lot more (co-working spaces and online communities like WIP help, but are not the same). Also, being a solo-founder severely limits the complexity of the products you can build.

2/ Digital nomadism is not for me
I love traveling and working remotely, but I found that I’m a lot more productive when I’m in familiar surroundings.

3/ Be as transparent as possible & build your product in public
This is probably the biggest mistake I made. Instead of sharing my ideas and getting people’s feedback, I spent way too much time working behind closed doors worrying what others might think. I should have written a post about my idea on the day I quit my previous job and publicly share every step of the process of building my product.

4/ Receiving feedback is hard
I’m still trying to figure out what the best way to filter feedback is. You should to take feedback seriously, but you shouldn’t take it too close to heart either.

5/ Failing is good and opens up new opportunities
< Insert witty the-journey-is-the-destination-quote here >

So what’s next for me?
I’m aiming to launch monote this week to get some more engagement and retention data. At this point and in its current form I would expect monote to stay more of a side project rather than a company I work on full-time. I’m also super excited to announce that I’ll be joining Entrepreneur First’s first Berlin cohort to find a co-founder and start an actual company.

I’ve learned a lot in the past 6 months and found answers to some of the questions I had back when I started. Let’s see how many more questions I can answer in the next 3 months.