Josef Strzibny Made $30K in 14 months from E-book

Josef Strzibny is the founder of Deployment from Scratch - a book about deploying web applications.

Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?

Deployment from Scratch is a an essential book about deploying web applications. It teaches how to run virtual servers and containers without indirection or abstractions, so you know what's happening at every step. An idea to start working on it is an intersection of my skills and what I believed was lacking on the market as most books concern themselves with a specific tools.

How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?

I sold 80 copies my very first month of sales, a few months before official lunch. The initial alpha version was consisting of the first 10 chapters and were priced more favourable. I believe the very first customers came from my mailing list of hundreds of subscribers. The mailing list itself started with a single Reddit post and a link from my blog.

Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?

I started with gitbook but later moved to Pandoc with a little bit of LaTeX. Most of the book is written in Markdown with some HTML comments. The same source is used to build PDF, ePub, HTML, and MOBI formats. I could imagine a better tool and avoiding LaTeX altogether. I was not happy with the code highlighting so that's a reason behind not having it in the book.

What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?

I use Sublime Text as my text editor of choice, Pandoc for building the book, Mailchimp for the email list, and Gumroad as a platform for selling. Out of these four only Gumroad was life-changing. Without them handling European VAT I might not have even started.

What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?

You really need to account for much more time than you expect. It's important to get back to the text you write many times, gather feedback, wait out the times you don't have energy to continue, etc. Another thing is randomness. Success is pretty random.
I like to get inspired from Indie Hackers (both web and podcast) and some successful individuals on Twitter like Daniel Vassallo, Pieter Levels, or Jon Yongfook.

What other products are you working on? (if any)

I am also working on Business Class, a Ruby on Rails SaaS Starter Kit, which I want to use to build my own startup with in the future.