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  • #22: From Side Hustle to Career Growth: Akhil's journey to succeed in a niche industry

#22: From Side Hustle to Career Growth: Akhil's journey to succeed in a niche industry

Learn how to build with no-code & leverage side hustles for career growth

We are often talking about side hustlesopening multiple doorways to opportunities.But getting started with your side hustles can be daunting in the face of a lack of ideas, skills or time. Our hustler today exemplifies how determination and willingness to learn can lead to getting started with side hustles and eventually find success. Today's hustler has

💸 Built a product that made $10,000 in revenue

🤩Grew Twitter audience from scratch to 3K+ followers in a year

🌟Breaking into Web3 space

Akhil's journey of earning money on the side, building a strong network & accelerating his career growth in a niche industry via side hustles

Akhil BVS, like many Indians, enrolled into computer science engineering back in 2016. But soon he realized his true passion was in design. He taught himself about design in his free time, and his love for design grew stronger.

As fate would have it, his passion led him to become the Head of Creatives for his college's media wing. He led a team of 6 designers, and together they created some stunning designs for events etc. He also did some freelance work on the side, building an impressive portfolio which led him to land a Designer position at an Edtech startup during his final year of college.

Despite starting his career as a designer, Akhil still felt like something was missing. He had always been fascinated with building digital products but felt restrained by his lack of coding skills.

Being in the middle of a startup space, he wanted to take action and do something about it. He enrolled in Build’s first cohort to learn to ideate and launch side projects in 4 weeks.

And so began Akhil's journey of building and shipping side projects that profoundly impacted his skills, career, and outlook on building. Let's dive deep into it!

Building with the goal of learning & solving problems

When Akhil joined Build, he had already worked as a designer for over a year. In his experience, he had difficulty finding design inspiration for creating digital ads.

He wanted to solve this problem by creating an ads repository of best-performing ads for marketers and designers. He got to work and built a basic prototype of his product using a simple Notion page and received positive feedback from the community. He also was introduced to no-code tools he could use to build his product.

This journey took work, as collecting ads from different companies and building an extensive repository was a manual task that took time and effort. But Akhil was determined, and with the help of some other community builders, he found a way to scrape the ads and build the final product using Airtable and Softr.

Finally, in early September 2021, nearly four weeks after joining Build, Akhil launched his first product, Adsets, a platform that allows users to browse the best-performing ads from top companies in different domains and gain insights against their competitors.

While he didn't have any specific goals for users, to his surprise, the product caught fire and became the first product of the day and the fourth product of the week on Product Hunt 🔥. Shipping his first product changed his outlook on building.

He understood the importance of finding and solving a problem in the simplest way possible. He also got to see the response a well-made product can get, and it kickstarted his Twitter audience building as well 🌟.

The next product got to $4000 in revenue in 2 months

When you're in a community of builders, ideas are popping up everywhere. One day, there was a discussion about a problem that B2B marketers often face - finding channels with relevant audiences for marketing. Based on the discussion, it was clear that realised that newsletters have emerged as an exciting channel to reach relevant audiences, but finding the right newsletter and reaching out to the authors takes a lot of time.

This problem excited Akhil and Madan. They both wanted to solve it and decided to team up to build Letterhunt. With the help of Abhash K, a mentor at Build and the VP of Marketing at Springworks, they built Letterhunt into an extensive directory of 10k+ active newsletters from 20+ categories, offered as an Airtable database.

The journey to building Letterhunt was not easy, and it took significant time and effort to collate the database. But the collaboration helped Akhil not only learn some tricks of scraping data and building a product that serves user needs but also get an opportunity to learn from Madan's experiences as a seasoned marketer.

The success of Adsets fueled Letterhunt, and by the end of September, it was launched to the public. And what a launch it was! Letterhunt became the product of the day and week on Product Hunt, receiving 1.7K upvotes 🚀.

The newsletter database saw over 520 purchases (notable companies being Softr, Growthx, Penguin Random House, Nasdaq Entrepreneurial center) in two months, translating to over $4,000 💰.

By the time they stopped actively working on the product, Letterhunt had reached a cumulative revenue of $10,000.

Building Web3 product and making a career transition in Web3

Akhil had another interest area that he was very passionate about, Web3. He would diligently learn about the space and keep up with the trends. By the time he launched two side projects, he was sure he wanted to move from his current job and take on a new challenge in Web3.

While thinking of making a move, he was stuck with an idea to make a BuyMeACoffee version for Crypto. He got the idea while trying to add a BuyMeACoffee widget to Adsets. He wanted a similar thing that accepts Crypto. He shared the idea in the Build community and soon got collaborators Utkarsh, Abhishek, and Ajinkya to build it with him.

Akhil designed the product, and together they launched BuyMeACryptoCoffee in December 2021. As with his other two launches, this also became the number one product on Product Hunt. It received a bounty of $1,500 from Superteam DAO and won Polygon's 'Build it Hackathon.'

But the most impactful outcome was that it made Akhil a known name in the Web3 space and led to him getting an opportunity to join Asset Money, an NFT-based startup, as a Product Lead. He achieved more than what he dreamt of, all because he built a side project in a field that excited him. 🌟

Paying-it-forward by mentoring more builders & building in Web3

Currently, Akhil is laser-focused in his work at Asset Money. As of now, he isn't actively involved in any side project, but in the last year, he started to mentor new builders at Build. He's been instrumental in helping them understand the no-code, design and launch strategies.

“Be curious to find problems and try to solve them, as only 1% of users on the internet are makers (those who build things.)

And you increase your chances of being among the 1% of the internet by building side-projects. Side projects are a serendipitous engine that helps you find opportunities (money/ job), gain visibility, and network with interesting people.”

Akhil advice to anyone starting a side hustle. Share his advice to your audience on Twitter.

You can also follow Akhil on Twitter to learn from his experience of building in Web3.

Hustlers Insight of the Week

Identify problems worth solving: When getting started with projects, look for problems worth solving. Identifying a genuine problem can make all the difference between success and failure. Akhil's products did well because he could identify the problem precisely and and get validation for the problem from others in the community

The power of community: Akhil's journey shows how a community of like-minded individuals like Build can act as a catalyst to your journey. Joining Build allowed him to receive feedback on his ideas, collaborate with other builders, and learn from experienced mentors. This helped him to validate his ideas, learn new skills and get support throughout his journey.

Build to learn: We live in a world that is fast changing and there is always avenues to learn and grow. And building side hustles can be a great way to learn. Building can accelerate your learning as we saw with Akhil. He started to build to learn product development, and the learn about Web3. His projects served as a learning sandbox for him.

Side Hustle Stack of the week

  • Softr: Softr lets you create client portals and internal tools for your business in minutes without code. It works with Airtable as the database layer.

  • Airtable: ​​Airtable allows you to easily create a database that holds the information that matters for your work, then use it to power the visualisations, processes, and integrations that make up a custom application that's truly unique to you

  • Gumroad: Gumroad is a self-publishing online digital marketplace where anyone can buy and sell products or services

Like the story?

Share your learnings on Twitter and let more people know how they can build side projects & grow their careers.

You can also share it with a friend to increase the surface area of knowledge so that more people can know how to make money.

Also, know anyone (who is making money from their side hustle while having a full-time job) we should feature? Let us know by replying, and we will get chatting!

Resources of the Week

Side Project Stack: Get the best tech stack to make your next side hustle

Leverage Information: A podcast on how to leverage knowledge from your current field to create digital products.

Scholarship to join the upcoming Build Cohort in February

Building and launching side projects may not seem easy. Still, with structured guidance and a meticulously crafted community of developers, marketers, designers, no-coders, and more, there is no way you will not succeed.

At the start of this year, we pledged that we would do what it takes from our end to ensure when we find someone who has what it takes to build & ship side projects, we get them there. So we are making it more accessible + affordable for you to join us on this journey by announcing a scholarship that reduces the investment to $350 or INR 30,000

We are offering this to 20 builders from around the world on a first come, first serve basis. Want to get started Building? Please do drop in your application & we will reach out to you super quick.