- The Hustlers
- #6: Sharath has built 15+ side projects since 2018, and generates $30K ARR from Shoutout
#6: Sharath has built 15+ side projects since 2018, and generates $30K ARR from Shoutout
Learn how to build a serendipity engine with side projects
If you are active among the community/no-code/indie-hacker Twitter, Sharath Kuruganthy is a name you would not miss. Currently heading community at Threado, he has built 15+ side-projects since 2018. But that’s not the most mind-blowing fact about him, he has a list!
🗣️Co-founder of Shoutout, a SaaS generating $30k ARR with 150+ paying customers
🏅Recipient of Product Hunt's Maker Grant 2021
✨Built a Twitter audience of 20K+ followers
A microSaaS side hustle that generates $30K ARR
Sharath’s early life in India was spent building a traditional career. His move to the USA in 2013 started to change his mindset. The entrepreneurial spirit of the people around him lit a fire in him to build something of his own. But it was not until the end of 2018 that he became a true builder.
A failure that became a stepping stone for side hustles
After graduation, Sharath started a corporate work life. But there was a fire within him to explore different interests and build something of his own. He co-founded a design agency called BICAD to help early-stage startups simplify their pitch decks. BICAD served more than 25 clients, and the experience of running the agency fueled him to start a product startup.
In 2018, along with two of his friends, he started Closing Page. It was a content management and sharing solution for salespeople. After almost 7-8 months, they understood the problem they were solving was not of high value to the market, and their startup became a failure.
Failures are great teachers, and the failure of Closing Page became the turning point for him. He realized that building is not only about taking the big high-risk bets. It can also be building small projects that are risk-averse and fun to work on.
Best side-hustles solve the maker’s needs
Sharath took the failure in his stride and gave himself a deadline to build a side project by end of 2018. For a non-developer, it seemed tough but that’s when he discovered no-code tools. He started to explore all the tools and solutions.
The search was not easy. There was no single source to find the different tools a builder can use. He felt that a simple directory of no-code tools should exist. It was a light bulb moment for him and he decided to build a product to solve the discovery of tools for builders.
Tools for Makers was launched in November 2018, it became popular among builders and became the #3 product of the day on Product Hunt.
His next project came in March 2019. Naval Ravikant, the CEO of AngelList is someone that most people in startups and the tech world know. He a powerhouse of wisdom and insights. Sharath wanted a collated base of all the knowledge Navel shares in the public domain, but it did not exist. So he built The Angel Philosopher, a compilation of Naval Ravikant's wisdom, knowledge, and thoughts. It went viral with 50-60K monthly visits initially. The cherry on top was Naval acknowledging the site and pinning it to his Twitter profile for about a year. Even to this date, the site gets traffic of 30-40K visitors monthly.
This product put him on the map of builders. Product Hunt and Twitter community started to know him and gave him great support. Even though he is an introvert, at that time he felt like engaging with strangers and building relationships.
Side-projects powers serendipity engine
Sharath believes that side projects are a driving force for the serendipity engine. The proof of work it builds can lead to some amazing opportunities.
Through 2019-20, he kept building different curation projects like RequestforProduct, Really Good Questions, OneDial, WFH Manual, and many more. Some of them got lots of love while some failed. But executing the ideation-build-launch process, again and again, taught him a lot. He got better at observing problems, understanding design & copywriting, speaking to customers, and building an audience.
He built all his projects to learn and have fun. He never cared about money or any other outcomes while building these projects. Yet, the serendipity engine was at work. He got the opportunity to make a shift from being a Product Manager at Walgreens to being a Product Evangelist at Draftbit, a low-code tool to create mobile apps. It was the magic of putting things out in the world.
“You cannot underestimate a side project. You never know, the power it can give you in the future. You can't quantify one thing and have an ROI for each project. Because everything counts. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backwards, and tell what X project did.”
Earning the first dollar
By 2020, he had started to build an audience on Twitter. He did this by sharing valuable content from his experience of building projects. He would get lots of shoutouts from the community, so he had this thought:
“What if I curate all my shoutouts under one place? I immediately shared the idea with my friend KP who instantly said it was great, and that gave me a solid boost to take the idea from zero to one!”
This was not a curation product and would need more development time. But before spending time on building it, he validated it from his audience. A landing page was shipped in about 24 hours, and it got around 300 sign-ups. That's when he started developing the first version of Shoutout on Bubble.
By the end of 2020, the no-code version of Shoutout was being tested by beta users. The users loved the product and some users came up with feature requests that they would pay for. Being a non-developer, it seemed like a tough task. He needed a technical co-founder.
As Shoutout was being built in public on Twitter, he utilized the audience to search for the technical co-founder. He connected with a few and found the perfect fit with Curtis Cummings. They started working on a full-fledged tech version of the product.
In February 2021, Shoutout was launched on Product Hunt and became the third product of the day. But that was not it, it also made Sharath the recipient of the Product Hunt Maker Grant. The product got him his first dollar, with Shoutout generating $600 MRR in the first month itself. Today, Shoutout generating $30K ARR with 150+ customers.
With his experience of shipping 15+ side-projects, he understood that building a community first and then products is important. The community should be part of your journey. Sharath’s proof of work, Shoutout’s success, and the community he built were instrumental in him joining Product Hunt, then OnDeck, and now Threado. Not only that, he is well on his path to being a creator. His side projects now include a podcast called The Undefeated Underdogs and very soon a newsletter.
Hustlers Insights of the Week
Sharath is an inspiration for any non-developer to start shipping their ideas. You don’t have to be limited by your tech skills.
⚒️Build a portfolio of small hustles: Take small steps and build small projects. Just like Sharath, start building these products by looking within, finding problems you have, and solving them. Every project will teach you something, and it will have a compound effect over time. You can work on them on the weekend and use simple no-code tools like Soft and Airtable to ship them. Don’t dream of building huge products, rather ship and build your muscles first.
🤩Build in Public: You should build your side hustles in public. Share your highs and lows, discoveries, and content that can add value to others. This helps you build a community that is there in your journey and supports you. Your products will get faster reviews and users too. And you can just build products to solve your audience’s needs too.
💫Don’t have expectations: Side projects give you the liberty to be stress-free and enjoy the process because there is nothing to lose. So do not have expectations of earning money from it, keep at it and the upside will come. Sharath built side projects for almost three years before earning the first dollar.
Did you learn something new about side-income reading this? If yes, share it with a friend to increase the surface area of knowledge so that more & more people can know of ways to make money.
Also, know anyone (who is making money while having a full-time job) we should feature? Let us know by replying, and we will get chatting!