It's time to build (in public)

Off Mute 01 – broke: WFH. woke: WIP

Welcome to Off Mute –a ranging, conversational mailing by Tyler Lastovich. This is a project to get thoughts out of my notes and into the world, but I do hope you enjoy it! If you ever have a question, comment, or hate what I said, please do let me know. I live for a little friendly argument. Unless specifically stated the topics here are opinions, not well-researched and planned topics.


Building in Public

An increasingly successful concept that is gaining popularity is building in public. When people don't hide from potential failure, procrastination, or embarrassment magic happens. Random onlookers start cheering from the sidelines, offer suggestions, or frequently turn into paying customers. It is a scary thing to start making plans out in the open as they start to look more like commitments than just potentials. The upside to this opportunity cost is exposure and encouragement. If you share cool things with regular frequency you will almost certainly build a fanbase.

This is a very 2020 solution to a problem. We have gone through two phases, product first (lean methodology), audience-first (influencers), and are now entering into product-audience (participant). This is where you can grow an audience by building your product. This style has grown to be a popular thing in the so-called maker community, where people on Product Hunt or Indiehackers work together to build lifestyle businesses. Now we are seeing writers, artists, and content creators embrace the trend.

This model is not without downside. First and foremost, you do artificially add obligations to your life. People will expect to see behind the curtain and writing that content takes time. It is also hard to face the facts that most projects start interesting, then quickly fade to boring as reality, customer service, and software issues inevitably creep in. Being hyper-transparent also opens the door to criticism and an endless stream of well-meaning 'what-ifs'. All said, it is not for everyone, but I am excited to try it.

If you are thinking about building in public, here are a few of my suggestions:

  • State exactly what you are planning to share. ie. pick a storyline

  • Don't share detailed financials, milestones are fine.

  • Find a structure for sharing updates that fits your project. (screenshots for design, text for SW, image essays for check-ins)

  • Periodically compile updates into more shareable threads/newsletters.

  • Set reasonable goals; people love to celebrate!

  • Plan to launch smaller and more often, maximizing exposure from follower shares.

  • Share content where your target audience lives, from Tiktok to group chats.

  • Maintain an obvious link that followers can recommend to new viewers. Word of mouth is the king –make it easy!

Time to start.

For me building in public will mean sharing more work on Twitter and adding a section to this newsletter weekly (starting in a few weeks).

I am a purposeful generalist with multiple projects going at any one time, making it very hard to track my work. I promise there is method to the madness. I have recently developed a 3-level structure for my work that I plan to stick with. (don't overthink it)

Tier 1 –

Personal projects, Identity-as-brand, writing. For the lowest tier I believe it makes sense to target projects that can be accomplished alone from idea to shipment. This could be making a Shopify store, a software tool, or even consulting. The goal here is to find to be ramen profitable with very few on-going time commitments. This serves to provide financial stability enabling larger, riskier ventures. 90% of my current work is here for now.

Tier 2 –

Companies. This is where multi-million $ plans should live. These projects require investigation and should be killed quickly if they are not obvious wins. Projects in this level are meaty and will take >1yr to finish, even with employees. Structured as C-corps, these projects will look for outside investment should the opportunity feel right. For me this means tackling complex problems such as metaverse infrastructure.

Tier 3 –

Passion projects. “If I retired today, I would still work on X” These are enjoyable ideas that will be worked on whether or not they actually earn money. Long-term goals with no definite end in sight. I only have one project here, called Early Capital. This is an alternative investment platform that I plan to iterate on for a decade. Projects should almost never be added to this tier.

In a very Elon-builds-Tesla way I hope to build things to support the construction of other, better things. In the optimistic case, I figure spending 6 months toiling predominantly in tier one should be enough to test the theory. Let’s see if it works!


High Volume

A new music recommendation each week (from nearly 1M minutes of Spotify streaming). Fun, wild, somber, and everything in-between. Have recommendations? All genres are welcome –send them my way!

Opus - Eric Prydz [clean synths, electronic, instrumental]

Kicking this new section off is probably my most listened-to album. Opus is the ideal work music. Clean, motivating, and not at all distracting. The title track, Opus, is simply a work of art. The 9 minute extended song is slow-build perfection. Not into electronic music? Tune in next week for some metal. ;)


Coming up –

I am currently finishing a special essay on the metaverse. Filled with 5,000+ words of original thoughts on the future it will not be one to miss!


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Have a great week,

-TL