Ruminating about the year

The Start

Founded Insstant and started building products and testing ideas.

  • Lead Spell

    It was a SaaS webapp to “get alerted and act on a lead just when it heats up”. I built the MVP, launched it on BetaList, got lukewarm interest, and finally decided not to pursue the idea further because I didn’t think I’d feel great building and selling it and so I didn’t see much potential for the idea in my hands. Good experience anyway.

  • Instant Exporter

    It is a SaaS webapp to “add ‘Export to Salesforce’ and other cloud integrations to your webapp”. I’m very excited about this. I’ll spend more time in 2017 focusing on getting more users for what we’ve already built.

  • Coming soon: “a tool to intelligently merge data” and “a tool to get more customers like the ones you already have”. I’m excited about testing these ideas in 2017. They go well with InstantExporter as it is the same market. Valerie has already created landing pages for these. I’ll launch them on BetaList once the holiday season is over and see how it goes.


I could’ve been more productive. There was a period when I hit the slump on making progress on Instant Exporter. It was a result of a combination of many things. I had very high expectations for an email campaign that I ran and I felt disappointed as a result. Then I caught a nasty cold and didn’t feel like working on it for a bit. This then led to some inertia-guilt loop keeping me from going again. After I fully recovered from the cold and caught up on other obligations, I was stressed out that I had made my friend Dru, who wanted to beta test the app at his work, wait for so long. My thinking was: “He has waited for months. Now, if I deliver something minimal, he’s going to think less of me because he will think that it took me all that time to build a tiny thing.” So I was stuck with what felt like writer’s block and I procrastinated for a while. Once I worked this out, I just shared exactly what was going on in my head with him, and that unblocked me. I got my productivity back.

I thought that since I knew the common psychological pitfalls, I wouldn’t fall for them. But here we are. It was a valuable lesson for me and I think I’d be able to nip it in the bud next time. Maybe.

My current primary distractions when I don’t feel like working are Hacker News, Reddit, and tv/movies. I’ve tried various tracking methods, antidotes, and tricks in the past but they are all weak non-replacements for real changes.

What hasn’t worked for me:

  • kicking myself
  • blocking websites
  • time tracking
  • making ambitious (i.e. unrealistic) resolutions
  • big todo lists

In fact they’re counter-productive because they cause anxiety and guilt, which drives me to procrastinate more.

What has worked for me:

  • just starting work
  • habits and routines
  • knowing why exactly I’m procrastinating

This isn’t a solved problem yet, but I’m much better now. I’m very optimistic as I’ve successfully made many changes that have stuck and changed my days for the better: avoiding Facebook altogether and not posting on Hacker News, for example.

I wasn’t getting enough sleep. In fact, that’s how I got that nasty cold. I was staying out with friends and then not sleeping in the next day. Even after mostly fixing this, I didn’t feel like I was getting a good amount of sleep. Using Sense I saw that I was getting woken up by some noise. In hind-sight, that isn’t surprising. I live in the heart of the Mission District after all. I started playing brownian noise at night more consistently than before. Later I bought LectroFan which has made this easy to do.

Guided Body Scan Meditation for Sleep has been amazing at consistently putting me to sleep. I used to have trouble falling back to sleep if I woke up very early in the morning for some reason. This guided mindfulness meditation fixed it. It is free.

Not surprisingly, improving my sleep quality has been a big help to my productivity and mood.


I wanted to try working with other developers as that would be a big force multiplier if it worked out. There were a couple of false starts but then I found a great developer that I’ve been enjoying working with. Since he is from Slovenia, I read up about the country. What a beautiful place! Can’t wait to go on hikes there.

I’m finding that a big benefit to this is momentum. I’m continuing my consulting practice for the time being for a couple of strategic reasons. So there may be a few days when I don’t work on Insstant at all, though I try to not let that happen. It is great to see that he has still made progress, which makes it easy and exciting for me to get back into things, instead of feeling a lot of inertia.


It was a good year for reading books : I read 20. But I’ll discuss just the startup and productivity books here.

I took a lot away from Deep Work and How to Fail and Still Win Big I’ve been systematically applying stuff from there the whole year and that has resulted in big changes in my quality of work and life.

On the business side of things, I loved Pitch Anything and Traction.

I strongly recommend these 4 books.


I considered a lot of different ideas. As a result, now I have a better sense of what business models interest me the most. But I resisted the temptation to chase new and shiny ideas that are naturally enticing because of their newness with exciting possibilities, not necessarily actual merit. Instead I focused on what I’m already testing. I just wrote down the other ideas to discuss and perhaps test later, instead of bounding off to code them up. That was hard to do, but I’m quite happy about it.


I’m really excited about 2017 and making big things happen for Insstant. See you on the other side.