12 Products in 12 Months

written January 1st, 2022

It's been a while since I've built anything for myself. One of the reasons I consider myself a "product-focused engineer" is because of my passion for building. Programming has enabled me to create something from nothing. Its turned me into a builder.

My partner and I have been talking about doing an ambitious project for 2022. We've decided to build 12 products in 12 months.

Why?

There are a lot of reasons I'm excited about this project. The first one was mentioned above.

I'm a builder. Creating things excites me. It makes me feel alive. I love everything from naming products, designing logos, writing bits of code, and setting up deployments. Every bit of the process is a fun way to flex my creativity. It brings me joy.

My partner is a computer science student. She's been developing her coding skills for some time now. Although we've collaborated before, she's grown a lot in the past 6 months. Now she's ready to take on bigger projects! For her, it'll be a great way to practice the skills she's learning in school and in her internships. It'll help her flex the programming muscle. It's a unique way for us to spend more time together.

I suck at marketing. I'm not great at design. The whole product life cycle is something I'm interested in. This project will be a safe space for me to play in areas I don't get to do as often at work. I'll be consuming a lot of product resources and seeing where we can take our products.

Timeline

We're making one product every month.

Some people I've told have criticized the project. You can't build a business in a month. You can't build a good product in a month. Tell that to Pieter Levels.

Either way, that isn't why we are doing this. We aren't setting out to build billion dollar startups here. We're looking to build skills, be creative, and to have fun. I do hope some of our products end up being useful for ourselves (and others!) but that would be a beneficial side effect.

At the start of each month, we're going to pick the product we want to build. We have a giant list but we're also open to suggestions! Once we've decided on the product, we'll break down our MVP and write tickets for work to be done. There's flexibility here. We're basically just going to use Kanban as we build throughout the month.

At the end of each month, we'll each reflect on what we've learned. Where did we fall short? What did we have the most fun doing? And of course, we'll post on Product Hunt.

Following Along

We've setup a public Notion page where you can follow along. This is where we'll do our planning. You can see each product, the scope of the MVP, and our tickets as we work through them.

We also plan to stream on Twitch every Sunday at 12 PM PST! This is will just be a fun way to interact with others. If you want to cheer us on, ask questions, or shit talk us, you can do it there. My guess is we won't have any viewers but it's just going to be another fun way to engage with the project. It should also add some aspect of accountability to the whole thing.

Our First Project

Today we decided on our first project, Poke! Poke is a personal accountability system. You setup recurring goals on the platform and get reminded about them via text message.

For example, if you want to go to the gym three days a week, you can add a reminder in Poke to message you on your gym days. Poke will keep track of when you accomplish your goals or when you've slipped up.

I've been thinking a lot about building platforms that interact with users by sending them text messages. I use Messages on my phone more than anything else. Don't be surprised if we build other text-based things later in the year.

This project is extremely ambitious. There's a good chance we don't even build 12 products. Some of our ideas could barely be described as products, others could be startups in their own right. A lot of people will doubt the value of this project or our ability to succeed. In the end, I don't care about any of that. I'm excited to be building. I'm excited to be giving myself permission to be creative just for the heck of it.

The last few years have been taxing on all of us. This project has me looking at 2022 with hope and excitement. I hope you find something to make you feel the same. I can't wait to get started.

I can't wait to share the journey as we make our way through 12 products!