Meet Matt Hlavacka, the creator of jobboardsheet.com.
Hey Deepak, thanks for having me for this interview. I'm Matt Hlavacka, a bootstrapper building no-code tools in public. I'm from Slovakia, and after a couple of years traveling around and living in the USA and Germany, I returned to the lovely Prague, Czech Republic.
In the last 5 years, I made & sold 2 small web apps in the music industry and worked for the European leading internet company for business long-term apartment rentals. I currently freelance 2-4 days a week and focus on building a sustainable SaaS company in the rest of the week.
Tell us about Jobboardsheet. What it's, and why did you decide to work on this idea?
Starting a fully functional niche job board is hard, especially when you're not a designer or coder. In the last years, I created a few job boards for both myself and my clients. It took a fairly long time to build a single job board, yet they all use the same core, and only jobs are original content.
This gave me an idea to enable people to launch a job board in a few hours without writing code and spending a lot of time & money. I validated the need for this product by finding thousands of Job Board WordPress templates sold every month.
JobBoardSheet is a job board website builder that connects to your Google Sheet or Airtable and lets you import and manage jobs from within the spreadsheet.
Customize the design, publish your website on your custom domain, and grow your own job board business.
Let's rewind the clock to September 2nd; what happened there?
Wow, it's been already 2 months?! Like many developers, I always believed in building a product first and looking for users second. I recognized it's the wrong approach, but online marketing and showing people an imperfect product sounded both scary and crazy.
After failing to build anything useful for the past year, I ended up with 3 projects inside my trash folder. I decided to change my approach and give myself 30-days to build and launch the SaaS product in 30 daily tweet updates.
I didn't have any real followers on Twitter back then, and my announcement got 2 likes at most, both from friends.
In the following days, more and more makers found the updates interesting, and some of them are now my customers.
Your decision to build in the open, what was the motive behind?
Back in 2014, when internet startups got more attention in Central Europe, I wished to build web apps and learn to code in Python. However, as things got more difficult, I just gave up.
I knew a better strategy is required and came up with a challenge to force myself to study consistently — by building 6 apps in 6 weeks and documenting everything in public. The series followed a tutorial structure, and we build full web-apps connected to the server and database.
Having many people follow it weekly helped me keep going and learn how to build fully functional web applications without giving up.
With the challenge of launching a SaaS product in 30-days, I wanted to recreate the same momentum and use the public pressure to hold myself accountable.
As a solo-maker, what was your product strategy? Did you hit your timeline every time? Just curious.
As a solo maker, you really need to prioritize your time to get the maximal ROI on anything you do. I've built job boards in the past, so I knew that I had the advantage of knowing what the product should look like from the beginning. Building the MVP, I aimed to build a simple product to fulfill a single need for a particular niche.
My plan to ship every day for 30 days was very optimistic, but I've kept the promise to give a daily update until day 44. I've seen many people on Twitter trying to launch a web product in public but then sadly taking long breaks between updates without fully committing.
You definitely built an audience around your product before your launch. Shed us some light about that.
A funny story happened on day 5 of my build in the public journey. I didn't have time to make any progress and thought to myself: "I haven't had any reaction to my daily updates in the first 4 days. Nobody cares if I skip one day." I went to sleep, but all I could think of was how this would mean I failed the challenge on day 5.
I went back to my laptop and posted the update of something I've worked on the day before and went to sleep. I woke up to a couple of notifications from Twitter and noticed an account with over 200k followers retweeted my build in a public thread. This brought a first paying customer who to this day gives the best feedback.
From product to sales, what was that moment like when you made your first sale? How did you find that customer?
I haven't done any marketing except posting on my Twitter until now and have been lucky enough to have customers sign up for the product directly. There are 6 customers actively paying for JobBoardSheet right now, which is not a very high number, but I'll take it for the 2nd month since launch. I hope to have 10-15 paying customers by the end of the year.
The realization that people are willing to pay for my web product if I make something useful was eye-opening.
Finally, please share some wisdom of yours with the community.
Build useful stuff in public, and don't be afraid to charge money for it from the start.
Before you spend countless nights alone building your project, find a community for the product you're building and see if you can market to it. If your product is successful, you'll interact with them daily for the next couple of years.
I wish you all building and growing your online businesses the best of luck. You can find me on my Twitter or learn more about JobBoardSheet.
Grow zero to one episode with Matt Hlavacka.
If you would like to create a community for your customers, then visit habitate.io.