I’ve spent most of the past 3 years creating one language learning web-app, Readlang.
I wrote about my struggle to get this off the ground almost two years ago and was thrilled with the response on Hacker News and elsewhere. I’ve been meaning to write a followup for a long time, but would always convince myself to wait…
Just a couple more tweaks and usage will explode. *Then* I'll have something to write about!
Well here I am, three years later. Usage didn’t explode, but grew in fits and starts. I’ve worked hard for 3 years and am still making less than minimum wage. But that’s not as bad as it might sound.
Laptops have two big usability problems:
- Small displays - After using large desktop monitors, working on a laptop feels cramped and unproductive for anything beyond simple web browsing.
- Terrible ergonomics - Your head is tilted down to view the screen, which can lead to back problems after long periods. A common solution is to use a separate keyboard and mouse and raise the entire laptop using a stand (I haven’t tried it but The Roost looks like a good one).
With the release of decent USB powered monitors there’s now a simple solution to both these problems. Place a second display above the built in one:
I’m 16 months into my language learning startup, Readlang. So far I’ve been working completely alone, learning a lot about web development, design and marketing as I go. I’d like to say that I’m learning about running a business too, but calling it a business sounds like a stretch, since it’s still only making pocket change.
This is going to be brutally honest, I’m not afraid to share numbers. For starters, here’s the performance of the site over its entire lifetime so far, from Nov 2012 to mid March 2014:
|Signups:||4,667 (19% of visitors)|
|Paying Subscribers:||126 (3.1% of signups, excluding the first 600 users who have free lifetime membership)|
And this is how I arrived here, month by month…
Chrome for iOS has been my main browser since I bought my iPad over a year ago. I love the way it syncs my bookmarks and history with my desktop Chrome browser and its familiar UI. But one thing that occasionally annoys me is its speed. From the start Chrome was marketed as the fast browser but so often on iOS it feels like I’m browsing in bullet time.
I blamed it partly on having the first iPad with a retina display (3rd gen) which is a little underpowered to push around all those pixels. But mainly, I just figured that all mobiles and tablets were slow, right? Well, not quite…
I’m spending the summer in Madrid at the moment. It’s a great place to work on Readlang. It keeps me in language learning mode, and it’s way cheaper to live than my old home of London, which is handy when trying to bootstrap a business. The one problem is the heat, my friends back in the UK are complaining about the 30 degree heat wave there at the moment, well that’s nothing compared to the 42 degrees (that’s “fourty-two” in case you suspected a typo) it reaches here in Madrid.
Oh, and we don’t have air conditioning.