Talk notes: Echelon 2013 Keynote by Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia

Sahil Lavingia – Founder & CEO, Gumroad “Building products that solve problems”Echelon 2013: 4-5 June 2013, Singapore

  • “I like to make software”, typically software. Learned design and code.
    • Made stuff for others – I was a “service provider” (charging on project or hourly basis) but services don’t scale.
    • Made stuff for myself – I became a “product provider” and products DO scale.
      • Start off solving my own problems, and due to the inherent properties of software, solved other people’s problems.
      • Left school to join Pinterest (at the time, it was him and two cofounders). Tried to sell a Photoshop file of a pencil icon, and discovered that it was hard to sell things online.
      • Started Gumroad – lets you sell directly to your audience, the way you want.
        • Sell things online, also provides powerful analytics dashboard for sellers.
        • Gumroad takes 5% and 25 cents.
        • Goal – Empower creators. Make existing ones better and make more of them.
        • Nothing is more important than just building And learning.
          • Keep the end goal in mind – the goal is not to learn design/code, it’s to build products.
          • “Intuition” is BS, you try a lot of things and you learn a lot. Experience leads to being “smart”.
          • How to very quickly build a software product to solve a problem at scale, now.
            • Focus on one problem, and outsource everything you can. Ex. Don’t build an authentication system, use FB.
            • Say “not for me”. Or at least, “not for now”.
            • Spend the time. Most of your time.
              • Features either help users or don’t. It’s binary.
              • If you can provide even a little bit of value, get it online.
              • “Usage is like oxygen for ideas” – Matt from Automattic
              • Have faith. Believe in the future you are working towards.
                • Gumroad believes that in a few years, creators will sell to their customers directly. In that world, GR will be very successful.
                • Have trust in your customers. It provides a simple, better experience.
                • “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
                • Be patient. It’s not going to happen tomorrow.
                • Some tips
                  • DRY everything (Do Not Repeat Everything)
                  • Remove steps for your users.
                  • Make your product smart.
                  • Make your users smart.
                  • Provide immediate value.
                  • Focus on the solo experience. How can one person get immediate value of it?
                    • Pinterest is useful even if none of your friends are using it.
                    • Make it human.
                    • Automate everything that can be automated. The less manual work for your friend
                    • Focus on today, not tomorrow. No user is thinking about tomorrow.
                    • Remove the current bottleneck. What’s stopping growth right now?
                    • Remove choice from users. The less mental energy users use, the better.
                    • Forget about data. There will be no data in the begging anyway, forget about statistics and market opportunity.
                    • Smile and have fun!
Sahil, second from the right.
Sahil, second from the right.