Utilizing my joblessness
I worked on Selar.co a lot more and the results are very encouraging
My initial plan was to write this article when I got employed again with the title “Things I did while I was jobless”, but it’s been two months and counting, I’m still jobless, so I figured I’d write it anyway.
I quit my job at the fastest growing Startup in Nigeria — Paystack(argue with yourself) with no backup plan or job offer on June 30th(Of course I gave a one month notice, I’m a gentleman 🙄), mainly because I wanted to explore more opportunities. I did figure out the suppressed reason I left a month later, but it was sort of too late.
I think of all the people I told after I finally quit, my mum took it well the most, her only fear was that it was a spiritual attack.
I did have plans for my jobless time, I said I’d read on technical writing, mobile dev(I’ve been a PHP developer all my life), and some other languages like node.js. But you already know how that played out — nothing like that happened. Maybe I improved my technical writing a bit, but the rest never happened.
For the first two weeks after I quit, I was basically obsessing about jobless ness — just like the picture above. My mind was going “Oh shit! You’re now a cliche 20 year old, 20 and jobless, well done.”, “You know you’re not cut out for this jobless life, why did you do it?”, and a lot more, but as a hard guy, I suppressed some of those thoughts with TV shows and sometimes my Bible...
By the ending of the second week/beginning of the third week, I was already putting in some development time into Selar.co, a mini project I started with some friends last year. Crazy story: the main reason I started Selar with my friends in October 2016, was because at the time, Paystack didn’t offer their services to non-registered businesses, and that market really needed a seamless online payment gateway. My plan was to make a simple replica of the Paystack payment page/Gumroad’s payment page where non-registered business owners can sell their stuff leveraging on Paystack’s split payments. Plus, I also thought it would be a great means for Paystack to be more popular amongst the community because small businesses market their stuff violently to their customers, and a lot of popularity from all these customers would aid the online acceptance of Paystack — A big stretch, I know.
I’ll start with the numbers(not really numbers) because I think that’s what will get me a 100% read ratio for this article.
With so much free time on my hand, I had no other option but to work on Selar, and with a lot “smart” work and testing, here’s a mediocre chart of some of Selar’s revenue growth over the past eight months.
Here are some of the things I did/built to get this growth in the past two months:
USD and GBP payments(Powered by Stripe)
Integrated Stripe for USD and GBP payments which gives us a 100% success rate for international payments, although our USD and GBP payments are not reflected on this chart, this has really helped with the success rate of purchases from international buyers. We’ve passed over $200 in revenue in the past one month plus. Check it out
On-demand Content Streaming with AWS cloudfront
A major merchant we have is Mount Zion Films productions, and if I’m counting people we’ve helped this year, they’d be at the top of the list. With Selar, they have a digital download platform by default, but we noticed most of their customers wanted to stream their content. Streaming is actually a good model for customers — it’s really affordable(for those that have data), however, judging by numbers, except the subscribers are a lot, I don’t think streaming is profitable for any content producing company that is serving their customers privately(i.e not youtube). With that said, I had all the time in the world to do this, so we set it up, and the reception has been great thus far. Check it out
Ps: Nothing we build is merchant specific, everything is available to all our merchants.
Over 90% of Mount Zion films paying customers are in Nigeria, which makes this Jason Njoku tweet very deep https://twitter.com/JasonNjoku/status/885772163764146176 (Nigerians buy content yo! don’t play yourself).
Also, when I told Shola(my boss at the time) about our Mount Zion collaboration in May, his first suggestion was that we go with streaming as opposed to downloads, but I was too lazy to attempt doing it — do I wish I did it then? Not so sure.
Merchant Customer Subscription
So a streaming model will not be complete without a subscription system, I also setup a system where merchants can serve a subscription fee for their customers to access all their content for a certain amount of time.Check it out.
This also leads out latest update — subscription product, a new kind of product so merchants can setup a subscription service for their customers. Use-case: An IG food vendor can collect weekly meal subscriptions automatically with Selar Check it out
Read-online only PDFs
While we cannot singlehandedly stop piracy, working with awesome content creators definitely amplifies our concern to this issue. Asides music, another product that gets bootlegged so easily is books, so we recently setup a special kind of product for book authors/magazine publishers that allows the buyer read the book online without downloading it. I think I’m very proud of this features *coughs in I hope it will be used a lot* Check it out
API and widgets
Ignore what I said above about being proud of that feature, I’m more proud of this. I also released a few apis and widgets. The apis allow developers build around Selar, the current api releases product, merchant, and event ticket attendees(Yeah, you can sell tickets on Selar). It’s still undocumented but you can preview it with the following endpoints
http://api.selar.co/v1/merchants/mountzion — Merchant Profile
http://api.selar.co/v1/merchants/mountzion/products — Paginated list of products from a merchant
About the widgets, I always thought it would be nice to have widgets that users can embed on their website, most of our merchants already have websites. Again, this is undocumented, but here’s what it looks like.
You can either use the wordpress plugin or the one- line <script> tag.
Physical products delivery with Kobo360
This is actually in beta and we’re currently testing to see the traction, but the idea is simple: For physical product merchants that wish to outsource their delivery, we’ve setup a seamless process in which after a customer purchases their product, we automatically notify Kobo360 to go pick up the product from the merchant and deliver to the buyer. Physical sellers are literally the hardest set of customers to acquire, and I thought “Why not help them and see if they come on board”, we’re currently piloting with the Jenifa’s Diary Physical DVD that is delivered worldwide. Check it out
If this works out, we would be starting our #EarnInFx campaign were indigenous creators can sell their Art to the world with our FX payments, while Kobo360 delivers worldwide.
Listening to users
I saved the most important for the last. Building is fun, but building products/features that users really need is better. In the past two months, I’ve listened to over 200 customers, via our drift.co chat(Super indispensable feature) and phone call conversations, and I must say, it’s been very helpful. I’ve gotten so much insights and lessons from asking questions and listening to the answers.
I really don’t know what is next for me, but I’m excited to see what the next couple of months look like.
Ezra Olubi (MVP)—In the past two months, he has given me a lot of tips and pointers on how to fine-tune our tech, and they’ve been very priceless.
Yinka Omole(Evil friend & Selar co-founder) — He nudged me to stop whining about my joblessness that I caused and start building, obviously while he is still gainfully employed. SMH.
Yomi Eluwande(Selar co-founder) — His constant jokes about my joblessness kept me alive!