Empowering the next generation of makers with no-code tools

Product Hunt Radio

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May 7, 2019, 9 p.m.

AJ is mysterious. He's a maker who goes by his initials only and is the creator of Carrd, an awesome tool for creating one-page websites without any code.

AJ lives in Nashville and built Carrd entirely himself. He's a bootstrapped, solo entrepreneur and maker who's been able to make a great living building a product people love and pay for.

Luckily, he agreed to be recorded without voice masking, as Startup L Jackson requested, when Park— er, Startup L Jackson came on in the first incarnation of Product Hunt Radio.

In this episode Ryan and AJ talk about...

How AJ started Carrd as a side project which morphed into a full-blown business...

“It started out as trying to make my life easier but ended up making users’ lives easier as well. A one-page site builder sounds innocuous, but you’d be surprised at the directions something like this can go.”

He explains how he started Carrd and why he decided not to take on the large, multi-page site builders of the world.

... and how Carrd's users transformed it into something new entirely as an outlet for their creativity.

“Trends in web design means everything moves together and kind of starts to all look the same. It’s nice to see people using Card to build websites that look unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

Among many other applications of the platform that AJ says he couldn't have foreseen, there has also been an unexpected takeover of Carrd by K-Pop fans who use it to create customized fan sites that look very... unique.

AJ explains how he thinks about the direction of the platform and how he handles feature requests...

“I try to take most new feature requests and figure out whether this is something that really only service one niche, and if so, is it a big enough niche to justify implementing that feature? But I prefer to implement things that would work for multiple groups of people. I try to look at them and think, ‘how can I distill this down to something that’s a bit more general-purpose that others can get use out of?’”

... and how inspiring it is to see the next generation of makers creating their own projects based on the platform.

“It tells you that you can do this, you don’t have to just consume, you can create, you can get out there just like everyone else and make something. It doesn’t have to just be a one-way thing. I’m glad that Card is included in this even though I didn’t intend it to be included in the sphere of no-code tools. That’s probably the coolest part of this entire thing to me.”

Some of the sites that users have created are in Ryan's words, “so internet in the best way” and are a great way for people to get into creating things on the web, which is reminiscent of the way that people creating amazing apps today got their start hacking their MySpace pages.

They also discuss what it's like to work at a single-person startup...

“The day-to-day is fundamentally just me in front of a computer, just hacking away at this thing. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get lonely. Remote work has only been a thing people have done recently. I don’t think we’ve fully realized the implications of what it means to spend your day working alone away from human interaction.”

AJ recently brought in someone to help with content moderation, but otherwise he's created, built, and scaled Carrd himself. He opens up about some of the “mistakes” he's made along the way and what he would do differently next time. He also talks about the tools he uses to build the platform.

... and why the discussion around whether a company should take venture capital or not is flawed.

He talks about whether he would want to take on venture capital and points out that people get caught up in a false dichotomy. He says that we need a more nuanced discussion of what the right type of funding is for a company that takes into account the company's age and stage.

We’ll be back next week so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Big thanks to Pilot for their support. 😸