LearnGPT is for sale. Contact me if you’re interested.

On Friday I announced that I intended to shut down LearnGPT to focus on Preceden, my main business. I didn’t plan to sell LearnGPT because I didn’t think a month-old, pre-revenue project like this would be able to sell for enough to warrant going through a sale.

It’s been three days and to my great surprise, I’ve had 9 people reach out about taking over and/or buying LearnGPT and that’s without me even saying it was for sale.

Given all of the interest, it does make sense to sell it and find a new owner who can take it to the next level, which I’m thrilled about.

If you think you might be a good fit and want to learn more, email me at matthew.h.mazur@gmail.com and I’ll send you a document with additional information to help you decide whether or not to make an offer.

A few key points that might save some back and forth:

  • The site is built with Ruby on Rails so you’ll either need to be a Rails developer or have access to one
  • I’m accepting offers until end of Friday, January 20th, then will pick someone to move forward with based on the offer amount and how good of a fit it is
  • Minimum offer is $5k
  • I’m looking to close the deal quickly, ideally completing the sale, transferring the assets, and completing training by the end of next Friday, January 27th

If you check all of these boxes, drop me a note and I’ll send you the additional information.

Cheers!

Indie Hacking Week 1 Recap: Starting TimelineGPT, Ending LearnGPT

Today marks the end of my first week of full-time indie hacking. I feel like I’m getting in a good groove as far as my daily routine, but I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet how much flexibility I have in terms of my daily schedule. For example, I’m still waking up early to workout and still mostly working 9am-5pm, despite having the flexibility to make my own hours. That said, keeping a normal routine and structuring my workday like a normal job might work best for me. We’ll see.

Preceden

On the Preceden front, I started work on a promising new feature that uses GPT to suggest events to add to your timeline.

For example, imagine you want to create a timeline of World War II. In the past, you would have to research and manually add events to your Preceden timeline to populate it. With this new feature, you can hit a button and it will generate a list of suggestions for World War II or any other topic:

And with the click of another button, you can add those suggestions to your timeline:

Neat, right?

Preceden’s free plan limits users to 10 events per timeline, so making it easier to populate timelines should lead to more paid conversions and help me grow the business.

And while trickier to do, eventually I’d love for this to support project planning too. Imagine being able to say you want to plan a marketing campaign for your SaaS and it automatically generates tasks and suggests dates.

The v1 will be an in-app tool that people can use, but after I work out the kinks I’ll likely make it a standalone tool that logged out users can use, with an option to sign up to continue working on whatever timeline the tool generates for them.

Codename for this whole project: TimelineGPT :).

LearnGPT

Shortly after ChatGPT launched in late November, I launched LearnGPT.com, a site for browsing, sharing, and discussing ChatGPT prompts:

On launch day I posted it on HackerNews where it received over 350 upvotes and earlier this month it made it to the top 10 again thanks to an interesting prompt about a leaf falling that someone posted.

My initial vision for the site was to start with prompts, then expand it into GPT news, tutorials, apps, and more, and eventually offer paid courses to monetize the site.

There’s this famous graph showing the typical path that a successful startup takes over its lifetime. I’ve added an arrow showing where LearnGPT is in this journey:

I honestly believe that with a lot of work, I could push LearnGPT past this “trough of sorrow” and build it into a big business along the lines of PyImageSearch or WPBeginner.

But, continuing with it would consume a lot of time and headspace that I could be putting into Preceden.

And unlike other products I’ve started, LearnGPT would require building a community and creating a lot of unique content which doesn’t terribly excite me. I enjoy building products, and writing a lot of content or managing people to write that content is not something I want to spend my days working on.

I considered trying to sell LearnGPT to someone better suited to take it to the next level, but because it’s pre-revenue (and actually burning money thanks to the contractors I’ve had helping with it), it’s not likely to fetch much, and would likely require a fair amount of time to finalize the deal, so I’m just going to throw up a banner about the closure, turn off new sign ups, and shut down the site in a week or two.

And with that, I’ll finally, truly be full time on Preceden and not splitting my time with contracting or other projects.

Onward 🚀

Going Full Time on My SaaS After 13 Years

In January 2010 I soft-launched launched Preceden, a web-based timeline maker tool, followed a few weeks later by a larger launch on HackerNews:

Today – almost 13 years to the day since the initial launch – I’m going full time on it and I couldn’t be more excited.

A brief history of Preceden

At the time of Preceden’s launch, I was serving as a first lieutenant in the US Air Force and about halfway through a 5-year service commitment I incurred by attending the Air Force Academy, a military college. I knew I didn’t want to make the Air Force a career, so decided to start learning web development with the hope of eventually working full time on a startup after my service commitment ended in 2012.

The first web app I built during this time period was Domain Pigeon (a domain search tool), followed by Preceden, followed by Lean Designs (a WYSIWYG web design tool), followed by Lean Domain Search (another domain search tool I built while deployed to Iraq), plus a few smaller ones not worth mentioning.

By the time I left the Air Force, I had shut down all except Preceden and Lean Domain Search. I did go full time for a few months, but focused entirely on Lean Domain Search. That tool was eventually acquihired by Automattic in 2013, where I joined full time as a software engineer helping with the domain name experience on WordPress.com.

With Lean Domain Search in Automattic’s hands, I was left with just Preceden, which at that point was about 3 years old. It didn’t make much money at the time, but I decided to continue working on it as a side project and see where it went.

Four years later in 2017 I left Automattic to join Help Scout as their first data team hire (during my time at Automattic, I gradually shifted away from software engineering to more of a data analyst/analytics engineer role). I continued to work on Preceden (then 7 years old), and in 2018 I switched to a contractor role so I could put more time on Preceden.

And now, after 4 years of contracting, I’m finally going full time on Preceden.

Here was my announcement at Help Scout from a few weeks ago:

Why not sooner?

It was a combination of things:

  • I made a lot of rookie mistakes over the years that limited Preceden’s growth including not focusing on a specific niche, not spending enough time marketing, not talking to enough customers, trying to do too much myself, and just in general picking a difficult product and business to build (something I didn’t give any thought to initially).
  • I was learning a ton, doing a lot of interesting work, and enjoying the camaraderie I had with my teammates at Automattic and later Help Scout.
  • Financially it made more sense to keep Preceden as a side project.

On the last point – it’s much easier to launch a SaaS than it is to grow it to the point where it can replace your income. As the sole breadwinner in our household with 4 young kids, I was not comfortable going full time and merely being ramen profitable or anything close to it. I wanted to replace or mostly replace my other income, and with Preceden’s SaaS metrics being what they were, it just took a really, really long time to do that. The long slow SaaS ramp of death is something I now have a lot of experience with 😂.

But here I am, finally.

Preceden in 2010
Preceden in 2019
Preceden today in 2023

What’s next?

I plan to focus mostly on Preceden, but will spend some percentage of my time on other pursuits. I recently launched LearnGPT.com, a fledgling GPT education site, and will likely work more and more on AI projects including integrating it into Preceden itself.

Also, it’s been a busy few years, and I’m very much looking forward to relaxing more and spending more time with my family including my two younger kids who aren’t in school yet.

I don’t know what my future holds long term. Preceden’s finances are good enough for now, but not at a point where I can just stop working on it and coast for years. With a little luck, Preceden will continue to grow and will continue supporting me full time to either focus on it or other pursuits. There’s also some chance I get bored with it or stumble across some promising new startup and I wind up going back full time somewhere else. We will see!

I do hope to blog more frequently so if you are interested in following along, you can subscribe via email, RSS, or just follow me on Twitter at @mhmazur.

Thanks for reading 👋.

Comments on HackerNews

AOL Underground Podcast Interview about AOL-Files.com

A screenshot of AOL-Files.com circa 2001

Back in 1998 when I was 13 years old I got heavily involved in the AOL hacking scene, originally building add-on software called progs (Revolution, Meridian), publishing code libraries called bas files (Alpha32), and later co-founding AOL-Files.com (where I went by the hacker alias Tau), which became a massive community and educational resource for folks interested in that scene.

These experiences got me hooked on programming and building products which has had a huge impact on my life that continues to this day.

Recently Steve Stonebraker, creator of the AOL Underground podcast, reached out to see if I was interested in being interviewed about that time period. I jumped at the chance.

For anyone interested in hearing me reminisce about the good ‘ol days of AOL hacking, you can listen to the full interview here: Tau – Co-creator of AOL-Files.com. We cover how I got started building progs, co-founding AOL-Files, many of the major exploits that followed, and much more.