Hi <<First Name>>
This is the first email I've ever sent to my personal mailing list! Congrats on the dubious honour of being in that crew.
You may have originally signed up to the highlight.app mailing list, or not signed up to anything because I know from another part of my life. Precisely one of you I'm married to. Because we're a bit of a rag-tag bunch, I'm going to give you a quick recap which makes this email a bit looong.
There are two 'asks' of you lot. Both introductions. Even if you can't help, please reply if you have something to say. It's lonely going solo!
If you don't want to get more updates, please unsubscribe. I won't be offended and we can still be friends.
Now the newsletter
I'm Jonny, an ex design manager at Deliveroo. I left my job in February this year to start a company with two friends. After three months I split off to work on my own. (I blogged about why here).
For the last six-ish weeks, I've been working on building my conviction in two things:
1. What problem do I want to solve?
I went back to square one when I set off on my own. But very quickly I started to remember back at Deliveroo transitioning from a 'maker' to a manager - and how hard that was to do. One of my core challenges was switching from my output being the work, to being my team's happiness and efficiency, as well as the quality of their output.
Now in various design leadership communities I see the same challenges being talked about. One of the outputs of trying to solve this problem seems to always be the 'progression framework' - often spreadsheets or text docs, shared with the team, that attempt to map how progression works at the company.
So having observed this trend, I collected a few of the public frameworks together and built progression.fyi. It got a reasonable amount of attention a couple of weeks ago and led to some great conversations with design and eng leaders at some companies I really admire.
I'm now doubling down on that area to lock down a problem I can solve with software. An MVP is underway, more news coming soon.
🤞Ask: do you know any design/engineering managers who are thinking about building progression frameworks and career ladders, or experts in the field? I'd love intros!
2. What kind of business do I want to work for?
One big reason for me deciding to go solo was to evaluate what I truly valued in my own business. I ended up deciding that for now at least, I'm going to try to build a sustainable business without taking on money. (Some would call this bootstrapping/lifestyle business but it's how most businesses work, and there are some great well-known SaaS examples like Github, Basecamp etc.)
That has in some ways constrained what kind of product I can build, but it's also introduced me to a whole set of makers who I'd never heard of or met before. I'm really excited for the rest of 2018, hacking away and balancing time, resource and revenue.
However, I've also realised how isolating being a solo founder can be. So I'm kicking off a slow hunt for a technical co-founder. Ideally this person would share my opinions around bootstrapping and distributed teams, and have a shared interest in workplace happiness, but otherwise be different to me (so we can challenge each other).
🤞Ask: Do you know anyone who might be interested in becoming a technical co-founder?
That's it for now! I'm journalling every week on my blog, and there's also a mailing list for progression.fyi if you want to keep up with progress on my product.
As always, please do reply with any thoughts, opinions, feedback.