On Wednesday 2nd October, 2019 we officially launched Leave Me Alone v2.0. To celebrate we hosted an event that included interviews with entrepreneurs from around the world, and live streamed the entire day from Bali. This post is the breakdown of everything that went into the most crazy, incredible, and exhausting 14 hours of our lives!
Cooking up an event
Since this was a version 2 launch we wanted to do something a bit different. James had this wild idea to live stream the whole day. We were somewhere with moderately stable wifi, we had a community of friends around us for support, and it sounded like a load of fun! What we didn’t anticipate is how much work goes into live streaming and hosting an event like this.
The initial plan was to setup in one of the outside booths at our co-working space, use one of our laptops to record, and have people drop in to say hello during the day. We asked a few people to join both in person, and remotely and everyone was really interested.
This sparked an idea to officially invite people to come and join us on stream at specified times to talk about their products, startup life, remote work, blogging, the maker community, and more. We sent out Calendly links to 12 influential people in the indie maker communities and they all said yes! We now had an entire day of interview sessions scheduled with incredible indie hackers, nomads, and founders from around the world!
Interviews were scheduled with:
- Fajar Siddiq - serial entrepreneur, indie maker, and freelancer
- Stas Moor - founder and designer of time tracking app Klokki
- Jon Yongfook - publicly bootstrapping to $100k ARR with Mojosaas
- Women Make with @stephsmithio, @diannamallen, @marie_dm_, and @HeyItsCharr
- Sergio Mattei - creator of maker community Makerlog
- Anne-Laure Le Cunff - runs Ness Labs and maker publication Maker Mag
- Ben Tossell - founder of no-code platform Makerpad
- Pat Walls - founder of entrepreneur interview site Starter Story
- Harry Dry - founder of practical, real-life marketing tips Marketing Examples
We shared our plans to live stream with the digital nomad community here in Canggu, Bali who were almost as excited as we were, but they completely shattered our illusion of how we planned to actually do the streaming part. Our good friend Dan offered to help us, and I can say that without a doubt, none of this would have been possible without him.
We went to Tropical Nomad Coworking three days before the go-live date to perform a stream test and to make sure everything would work. The setup worked perfectly. The wifi, however, did not.
We started outside in a garden booth, which was a bit far away from the access points, and gradually moved further inside, but none of the locations we tried were good enough. The internet connection was fast enough, but it wasn’t consistent enough to maintain a stable stream. It would work fine for a few minutes, but then it would lag and stall like crazy.
This was a disaster. We had to postpone the event until we could find a better location. We already shared our stream event all over social media and we had 10 people who had committed their time to us on that day.
Dan came to the rescue again. He is a member of WiFi Tribe, a co-working and co-living community who travel and live together all over the world. One of their selling points is that they provide excellent wifi for working in their living spaces. We tested our stream setup again at the WiFi Tribe villa, and it worked like a dream! They even had a backup connection just in case!
WiFi Tribe kindly agreed to let us use their villa for our event, and we offered them an interview session slot on the stream and social media mentions in exchange. They had a rooftop space with a big table for working and views over the rice paddies which made the perfect backdrop for a live stream from Bali.
Dan essentially managed our entire live stream single-handed. He doesn’t travel as light as we do, and that was a huge advantage to us. He carries a microphone, a spare iPhone, a spare Macbook, a tripod, and more cables and extensions than I thought possible!
Thanks to Dan our setup was bordering on professional! We had an iPhone 5 in a tripod stand for the video, a proper microphone, and a dedicated laptop to run the streaming software (OBS) and remote interview sessions (Zoom).
The calm before the launch
We had a new location, we set a new date, and all of our interviewees were super understanding and agreed to join us again! We planned to stream from 10am - midnight Bali time. The first interview would be 11am and almost every hour until midnight apart from our Product Hunt launch at 3pm and post-launch beers at 6pm! We now had more than a week before launch day to prepare, which turned out to be just enough time to get everything done.
James worked super hard on our Product Hunt assets, added a stream countdown banner to our landing page, and he even created a walkthrough video of him using Leave Me Alone. He also spent an entire day researching every one of our interviewees and writing questions and talking points for the sessions.
Inspired by the 24 Hour Startup Challenge, James made some images to use for different screen setups like “starting soon” and “taking a break”. He also wrote a couple of scripts which would display the upcoming interview sessions and our live stats in scrolling banners at the top and bottom of the screen at all times.
I wrote a launch blog post, the Product Hunt first comment, a tweet thread for the event schedule, and tweets for each upcoming interview like this. Plus, I built hype on social media by posting everywhere I could think of (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Indie Hackers etc) and I even created a Facebook event!
Somehow, I also wrote some code so that people could sign-up for our Teams plan without being on-boarded by us, in the hope that we might get some monthly subscription customers from the launch (which we did - woo!).
We invited our friends from Bali to come and hang out or work at the villa during the day, and to join us for post-launch beers. We wanted the event to be a social day with people having a good time, chatting about their work, and for people watching the stream to engage and ask questions while James and I were busy.
The final piece of preparation was to get supplies for the event! The night before we stocked up on fruit, snacks, and a case of beer for everyone.
All of the preparation was done and stream day was now here. We grabbed a quick Bali breakfast of delicious eggs and veggies, and headed over to the WiFi Tribe villa to help Dan get setup. He was way ahead of us and everything was already set up and ready to go. We really don’t know what we would have done without him!
Before we knew it 10am arrived and we were live on stream! It was a bit weird at first knowing that people were watching us just hanging out on our laptops and eating some snacks etc, but it soon felt natural and viewers were tuning in to say hi and ask us some questions!
We absolutely loved the level of engagement from viewers on Twitch. There were so many great questions asked about all kinds of topics from working in Bali specifically, to digital nomad life in general, and everyone on the rooftop was getting involved and answering them.
Our first interview session was at 11am. I fired off the pre-session tweet I had prepared introducing the guest to remind people to come and tune in and we waited for our guest to join the Zoom call. Dan had setup Zoom so that we would use James’ laptop to join the call to talk to our guests, and the streaming laptop would host the call so that it could be shared with the stream. This worked extremely well, and the audio was great for the viewers!
The rest of the day flew by in a bit of a blur. We totally underestimated how much free time we would have between interview sessions! I am so thankful that I wrote all of the upcoming session tweets. This saved me so much time and I managed to send each one ~15 minutes before each guest joined us. Plus, I took a few notes during each interview and tweeted a miniature summary of what we talked about for people who missed it.
We have all of the stream footage and we are in the process of making videos of each interview to share with you soon. We found out that this takes a lot of time and effort, so please bear with us, it may take a little while but we will be releasing them!
A few hours in and everybody started having problems posting on Twitter - it seemed like Twitter was having problems, or something weird was going on at least! It worked temperamentally from Europe so we managed to keep tweeting by using our VPN.
We totally skipped lunch. We didn’t eat a proper meal all day and sustained ourselves on the fruit and snacks we brought. This isn’t great but neither of us were hungry - I think the adrenaline and everything else going on totally overshadowed our personal needs!
Three hours after we went live on Product Hunt we took a break to have a beer and watch the sunset. This was a much needed rest, and ended up being the only beer we had all day - we didn’t want to lose focus!
A few hours before the end Steph ordered chicken wings for everyone from our favourite wings truck here in Canggu. We just about had time to stuff our faces while our stream viewers got ~30 minutes of us chomping on our dinner!
Before we knew it, it was 11pm and we were doing our last interview of the day. James was starting to ramble and my cheeks were hurting from smiling and laughing with everyone so much! Our last guest Harry was so chatty and animated he gave us one last boost of energy and we had a fantastic chat with him.
And then it was all over! We were completely and utterly exhausted, but extremely happy with everything. I haven’t even talked about how we were doing on Product Hunt, and that is exactly what happened on the day. We got off to a great start and maintained #1 for a long time but we didn’t have time to constantly refresh and check if we were still leading. This was actually really awesome, we wanted the launch to be about more than just the Product Hunt, and more of a social event, and it turned out perfectly.
We actually ended up #2 of the day, which is still an incredible achievement that we are very proud of - especially for a v2.0 launch! But, the real success is outside of Product Hunt - we have a community of people who were incredible with their support both online and in person and we couldn’t have done it without them.
Pretty much plain sailing
Apart from Twitter being weird, we didn’t encounter any critical stream problems! Dan’s 2011 Macbook Air held up like a trooper! It only started getting a little slow while it was sat in the sun after 8 hours of streaming.
The weather was a little bit windy and we didn’t have a muffler for the microphone. This was creatively solved by putting a cloth over the top which helped a great deal! We also had to keep reconnecting the video because it would cut out every time we switched from Zoom back to the stream camera. Shout-out to viewers on Twitch for raising these issues with us!
Once again, eternal thanks Dan for making all of this possible. He had all of the Zoom links ready to go, he switched between Zoom and the stream camera after every session, he fixed video and microphone issues, and he was constantly monitoring Twitch to make sure everything ran smoothly.
It was a hell of a show
We thoroughly enjoyed every single interview we did! The conversation flowed so easily, and every guest had great answers for the questions we had prepared.
Here’s a summary of each interview:
Fajar talked about overcoming hard times, finding your tribe for good vibes, the importance of compassion towards fellow makers and developers, and how success comes from helping people rather than looking for fame and money.
Dan Sloan + WiFi Tribe
Dan and fellow WiFi tribe member Aura talked about the challenges of remote work and the power of community. The benefits a nomad family provide can help to offset feeling lost and alone - especially as a solo nomad.
Stas Moor - Founder of Klokki
Stas shared some great advice for other makers aspiring to build something. He advocates jumping in and getting started even if you’re scared of failing and shipping early on and getting feedback. For long term success he suggests having some money put away for stability so that you know how long you can work on your side project.
Jon talked about his new venture to reach $100k annual recurring revenue while sharing his journey to get there publicly - something which he hasn’t done before. Plus, how he was forced to make a decision about shutting down his previous project and what he learned from this.
The five of us had a super long chat that covered so much great stuff. The highlights were:
Steph talked about the challenges of joining a company as a remote developer and for people who want to grow their blog she suggests finding your style and being consistent with that.
Charlotte had some great insights into her career transition and upcoming UX bootcamp in Berlin. Her decision to switch roles was because she didn’t enjoy the job she was doing anymore, but it was scary to take that leap.
Dianna shared her strategies for growing a mailing list to thousands of subscribers in just a few short weeks. She reached out to communities of people she thought she could genuinely help, and people loved it.
Marie discussed how she founded Women Make when she was struggling to find a community of women helping each other online, and grew it to over 400 members. Plus, how she keeps engagement high with the new forum and by running events like a 30 day challenge to build something.
Sergio shared a lot of insight into the problems with the maker community right now; that hype does not equal idea validation, and how the “ship and dump” culture is harmful to other people. We are one big family but we should be sure to validate our products outside of the maker bubble.
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Anne-Laure talked about how she manages her schedule so that she can blog every day, learn to code, and study for an MSc in Neuroscience. She suffers from time anxiety and to battle this she decide what to work on based on what she will feel the most guilty about not doing by the end of the week.
Ben shared how he rocketed to maker fame with his no-code platform, but how he still thinks that there will be a place for developers and no-code tools to co-exist in the future. No-code tools enable people to build things who wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Pat talked about his success with the 24 Hour Startup Challenge and growing Starter Story to a profitable platform. His advice for building products is to avoid analysing the long-term risk and just start building - failing and learning something is better than not doing anything.
Harry shared some solid advice for makers and developers who are trying to succeed at marketing. You should be yourself and use that to your advantage. If you have weird and wonderful quirks then that will be something people can relate to - don’t be a sheep, make yourself stand out. Plus, you should prioritise direct sales as a totally under-rated sales technique.
We thought we would go out after the stream to party and celebrate. We were wrong! James went straight to sleep but my brain was so wired I couldn’t sleep for ages. I experienced a super fast picture show, like when films show your life flashing before your eyes before you die! It was like my thoughts were so focused on the stream, interviews, and everything I had to do, that when it was over my mind was playing catch-up.
We spent the next couple of days making sure we had replied to everyone on Product Hunt, Twitter, and our support chat. Then we took the weekend off to go diving in the North of Bali and left our laptops behind - we needed some total recovery time!
When we returned to work Leave Me Alone was still running, nothing had caught on fire. Plus, I had a couple of exciting messages in my inbox...
Courtland Allen from Indie Hackers invited me to talk about Leave Me Alone on the Indie Hackers Podcast, and Pat Walls asked me to share the story behind building and growing Leave Me Alone with Starter Story! I was absolutely blown away, and so happy that these publications that share successful entrepreneur stories wanted to hear mine!
The whole process leading up to the actual launch day was 3 weeks of non-stop work. We worked every day, including weekends preparing for this. It was really hard work, took a lot of planning and preparation, and it was totally worth it!
We couldn’t have done it without the support of our incredibly helpful and generous friends here in Bali, the super supportive communities on Telegram, and everyone giving love and encouragement on Twitter etc.
On stream someone asked Pat if he would ever do the 24 Hour Startup Challenge again, and although he loved the event, it required so much work that he thought it was unlikely. We had an insanely fun, exciting, and inspiring day, but we agree with Pat. Anyway, we’ve got to top this event for Leave Me Alone v3.0 now right...?!