One-Year Anniversary 🎊

Some behind the scenes, FAQS, and what's next for First 1000.

Hello folks 👋,

First of all, I would like to welcome the 897 new members to our little family 👨🏽‍🍼. This Thursday, First 1000 officially turned one year old.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I get to push a button and reach over 14,000 human beings all across the globe. To each and everyone of you, thank you for coming along on this journey.

By now, you would expect me to hit your inbox on Sunday, but this issue took me an excruciatingly long time to put together; for the first time in a year, I have no idea what I am "supposed" to write about.

After much deliberation between me and myself, I decided to use this opportunity to take you behind the scenes of building this newsletter and shed some light on my motivation, process, and ambition 😁.

By the numbers

  • 📖 14,008 subscribers

  • ✍️ 144k+ words written

  • 📰 46 case studies

  • 😢 $700 spent

  • 👨‍👩‍👧 90+ readers met

  • 👨🏽‍💻10k+ lines of code

  • ⌛️1500+ hours

  • 🌎 I wrote to you from 3 continents (in the middle of a global pandemic.)

What is my end-game?

I don't have one in mind; First 1000 has allowed me to meet so MANY inspiring people. It has slowly grown to become an extension of my identity. If there is anything I want to get out of it, maybe a few more Twitter followers (I am addicted 😅)...but beyond that, First 1000 is my avenue to meet and learn from some of the most brilliant people around the world, and I would not trade that for anything! (don’t hold me to that if I end up selling out though😬)

What is my research process like?

My research process is ...messy. I try to get inside the founder's head, learn how they think, view the world, and what they care about. So I spend a week or two diving into the company I am writing about; when I go on walks, I listen to founder interviews from 7 years back, I wind down to their podcast appearances. I start my day with a morning coffee and digging through the company's old blog posts. And ofcourse, I look and read almost anyone who has ever remotely written about the company…especially in the early days.

I see my job as striking the balance between not repeating the same glorified founder journey where everything just magically worked and providing enough context so that the case study makes sense. This where I dedicate a lot of my energy; figuring out what to leave out of every case study.

After that, I turn my notes into a timeline. There are usually a few gaps in the story...something that goes along the line of "and then they used SEO and got to 7 million users." This is where I roll my sleeves and dive deep into research mode. By combining advanced search on Twitter and Google, some internet archives, early blog posts, and talking to the founders, I, most of the time, manage to fill in these holes and put together a case study that flows as smoothly as a bedtime story.

In the cases I don’t manage to do that, I just don’t publish that issue 😢.

What are my favorite case studies?

What are some of the companies I really want to write about?

  • Notion

  • Airtable

  • Ycombinator

  • Lambda School

  • FedEx

  • Onlyfans

  • Goldman Sachs

If you know the founders of any of these companies...introduce me, please 😬.

If you don't tweet at them and make them come on First 100 🙈

How do I stay motivated?

As soon as I start writing an issue, I schedule it to go out on Sunday at 9:19 am. I chose Sundays because I don't want the newsletter to ruin my "entire" weekend and 9:19 am because of a superstition I would rather not get into 😬.

Scheduling issues to go out before I finish them was and still is an excellent forcing function, at least in my experience. Whenever I feel I can't finish my newsletter in time that week, I have to go back to the drafts to unschedule it. 9/10 times guilt takes over, and I end up powering through it! 

What is my plan for year 2 of First 1000?

Year 2 is all about writing, writing, and writing.

I want to do more interviews, cross out at least one company from my wishlist and get to meet MORE of you. First 1000 is at a point (*knock on wood*) where I don’t have to keep pushing for growth.

I have spent 80% of my time last year promoting and “growth hacking” the newsletter and 20% of my time writing. Some weeks I would START writing at 4:30 am the day the newsletter goes out, just because I had spent the entire day trying to hit my daily target of adding 13 new subscribers or something like that.

Now I want to focus my time on delivering more value to you, that means going deeper on the companies I cover, spending a lot more time analyzing the “whys” behind the decisions that they made and of course make it more fun to read.

I want First 1000 to be as insightful as the Harvard Business Review case studies with the only caveat being that First 1000 is actually fun to read 😬. Next year is all about getting there.

It has been one hell of a year and I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for your support, thank you for sharing, thank you for all the love you sent through, and thank you for allowing me to occupy a tiny space in your inbox every Sunday.

I don't take that trust lightly and will do my best to continue earning that trust every single week.