Abi is a 27-year-old developer from Chicago who launched Pull Reminders in January. Pull Reminders helps development teams stay on top of pull requests and improve their code review process by setting up reminders in Slack channels and providing metrics like pull request size, code review turnaround time, and the number of reviews completed. It is used by over 400 companies like Pivotal, Instacart, WeWork, and Trivago.
Abi, a developer who is 27 years old, left his job in December to start an internet business. He barely took a month to introduce Pull Reminders. The first several months were challenging, but when Abi was able to show developers his product, he never stopped growing. Pull Reminders was recently highlighted on the GitHub store.
What is your background and what are you concentrating on right now?
I am a developer from Chicago who is 27 years old. When I was in middle school, I sold modified Nerf guns on online message boards, which was my first business venture. After his shipment was delayed, a disgruntled customer taught me the importance of good customer service by telling my parents about me.
I developed a passion for web design in high school, and for the past ten years I have worked full-time employment while launching side projects. Since I’ve always wanted to work for myself, when I left my last job in December I made the decision to use the time to market some product concepts I had.
Pull Reminders’ original version was launched in January, and during the following few months, its development has been self-funded.
Development teams may track pull requests and improve the code review process with the help of pull reminders. In Slack channels, you can schedule reminders for assigned code evaluations and have everyone receive direct messages. In order to reward contributors and improve team procedures, Pull Reminders also gives information like pull request size, code review turnaround time, and the number of completed reviews.
Pull Reminders are used by more than 400 businesses, including Pivotal, Instacart, WeWork, and Trivago.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea?
My prior role as an engineering manager served as the source of inspiration for Pull Reminders. The process for code assessments consisted of exchanging open merge requests on GitHub and Slack.
I can remember once inquiring about a pull request that had been idle for a few days with an engineer on my team. He told me that he was tired of asking for a code review because he had asked for one so many times.
I started spending a lot of time keeping track of open pull requests and pinging Slack members who needed to take action. Although I didn’t like spending my time in this way, the team benefited greatly because pull requests would not have been released as quickly otherwise.
I couldn’t shake the idea of building a program to automate the chores I was doing when I left that job in December of last year. I was reluctant as well since I wasn’t sure whether anyone else would be eager to utilize it. My graveyard of abandoned side projects seemed sufficient because I’ve probably initiated more than a dozen unsuccessful ventures.
I overcame my apprehension by doing more research. Many of my coworkers in the “Chicago CTO” Slack group responded “yes” when I asked if they had problems with slow pull requests. Additionally, I looked for pre-existing solutions and found several related “pull request reminder” projects on GitHub. This proved to me that this was a common problem.
How were the Pull Reminders built?
I created the first version of Pull Reminders in a few of weeks using Ruby on Rails. Nothing, in my opinion, is better for launching and iterating a new product than Rails. As the “framework for small teams to do big things,” Rails is ideal for one-person teams.
At the end of January, I introduced Pull Reminders, with no thought of turning a profit. I wanted to use the free distribution of Pull Reminders as a marketing tool for another project I had in mind. Both a price page and a payment form were missing.
Soon after opening, I started to get a trickle of signups through the Slack App Directory. Every user who signed up received an email from me asking them about themselves and their expectations from Pull Reminders. These early adopters included a number of big organizations, and I could tell they were interested in my product since they asked for various changes. I kept making adjustments in response to their suggestions until they seemed satisfied. I then asked whether they would be prepared to pay. I thought I had a 30% chance, but it turned out to be true. My mind was blown by the acquisition of those initial few paying clients. I understood that Pull Reminders may be a respectable business.
My first payment did not come in until March 1 to give you a sense of the time frame. After that, I started turning more and more signups into paying clients. Eventually, I built a price page and payment form so I wouldn’t have to ask each person to pay separately. By using established price options of $10/mo, $49/mo, and $99/mo, I charge businesses about $2 each month per developer. Pricing is still something I’m working on, but I like to say that the $2 monthly charge per developer is reasonable because it’s less than the price of a cup of coffee for each developer, yet Pull Reminders, in my opinion, boosts productivity more than coffee does.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
In April, I was able to add Pull Reminders to the GitHub Marketplace. It seemed like a significant occasion, but it took a lot of work, and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Thankfully, it has boosted signups and sped up my development.
Since then, improving my product has been my main priority. Although I’ve tried, my referral program hasn’t really taken off. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on. I tried at first to give a free container of premium coffee each referral. I changed my attention to Amazon gift cards after that. Currently, inviting a friend earns both the inviter and the invited person Amazon credit.
Even though Slack and GitHub often send me new signups, I’ve come to the realization that I must conduct my own marketing if I want to grow the company more fast. My goal is to start publishing in-depth accounts of my personal experiences and to produce startup manuals for other developers. There seems to be a nice connection between what I can write about and a relevant audience for my business because my clients are developers.
What were the biggest challenges you faced, and how did you get beyond them?
My biggest struggles have been self-doubt and being a perfectionist.
Being a lone entrepreneur might make it difficult to stay upbeat and motivated. All creative people, in my opinion, are terrified of being rejected or failing. It might be daunting to share something to the world after investing so much of oneself in its creation. I occasionally become melancholy about unimportant things. For instance, I start to think negatively if my signups drop for a week or a client I admire doesn’t buy a subscription. Given the success of my firm and how lucky I am to be in my position, it is a really silly thing to do.
In addition, I have trouble being a perfectionist. It is simple for me to become sidetracked and fixate on details that have no bearing on my business. For example, I’ve had to control my need to spend too much time reworking code or rebuilding something that already seems to work well.
I think being a perfectionist may backfire since you typically make things worse when you start overanalyzing your work. For example, while I was drafting my replies for a written interview, I started word-smithing to the point where it was tiresome and lengthy. In order to help me, my brother and a couple of my friends proofread my writing and advised me to stop.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
In all honesty, I don’t know. I addressed a few of my personal flaws in the part above, but I think many of my weaknesses are also assets from a business standpoint.
For instance, because my company relies only on GitHub and Slack, it is fairly vulnerable. This has also been a huge benefit because many individuals can easily use my solution in addition to their existing tools.
Being the only founder may be seen as a drawback, but in my opinion it is a huge asset. I am able to pursue possibilities that the majority of other firms would not even consider since I have total autonomy and low overhead.
What were the worst mistakes you made when creating and growing Pull Reminders?
I keep making the mistake of creating important features without testing and verifying them as I go. For instance, I don’t think anyone is making the most of the reporting options in Pull Reminders. I spoke with consumers before starting, so I had a good grasp of the issues I was attempting to resolve. However, without a thorough understanding of how, by whom, and when they will be used, designing reports and data visualizations is very challenging. I thus came up with a solution that wasn’t nearly the best. It would have been better if I had taken my time and created prototypes of what I could develop before starting to build it. I’m now revamping a lot of my reports in light of what I’ve learnt, but there was a more effective way to get the same result.
I also wasted a lot of time and effort trying to create a new logo, which was a mistake. I designed my present logo, but a few months ago I grew fascinated with the idea of creating an illustrated logo with a “bot” motif. I spent a lot of time contacting different designers, creating design briefs, and refining several design concepts. In the end, I decided that my present logo was sufficient because I didn’t like any of the alternatives. I spent a lot of time on a surgery that would not have had much of an impact even if it had been effective.
What actions would you do differently if you had the chance?
Having the mental and emotional stamina to persist when things are not going well is, in my opinion, one of the most crucial elements of turning a concept into a business. I wasn’t very good at this when I first started, and the ups and downs would really upset me.
I intentionally put my emotional well-being and mental health first now. I try to take a few days off when I’m not feeling well to rest. I’ve found that if you put a lot of effort into adopting the right attitude, creative accomplishment comes much more easily.
What additional learning tools besides mistakes would you suggest for new business owners?
My advice is to study largely from books and very occasionally from online resources. It is easy to fall prey to “entreporn” My top recommendations for books on the entrepreneurial process are Nail It, Scale It, and the Fearless Mind. The above URLs take you to my website’s book notes.
If my journey has taught me anything, it’s that there are many ways to start a business, just as there are many ways to become a programmer. There have been many turns and turns in my trip, but I haven’t yet acknowledged all the people who have helped me along the route. If you happen to be a reader who is traveling a similar route, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have along the way. Additionally, I’m creating a new website where I’ll share my expertise and develop rules for everything from sales and customer service to incorporation and taxation.
I go into more depth about my journey in this video.
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