Nate Makes $2500+ in 3 Months from Design Course

Nate Kadlac is the founder of The 80/20 Design Challenge - “I teach non-designers how to make better design decisions in a fraction of the time”
 

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

The idea for the 80/20 Design Challenge came from people asking me design questions like, "Can you give me the 80/20 of color?" Or, "What's the most important thing I should know about picking a font?"
 
It sparked an idea to cater to creators and entrepreneurs who value their time but understand the importance of design.This interesting overlap led me down a path to create a design product that felt approachable and lightweight, but packed with insight.
 
From a product perspective, I was inspired by Sara & Sam Parr's Copythat.com, which treats email-based learning as a time-bound product, kicking off every Monday. I thought this would be a solid strategy for teaching design.
 

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

About one month. I soft launched the course for free to my newsletter list to get feedback and test for bugs, running 75 people through it. After launching, the first 50 paid customers came through my newsletter, Twitter, and word of mouth. I had some people with large Twitter accounts give it love. 
 
My growth strategy has always been to play the long game, and never over-optimize for short-term growth. This might be counter-intuitive, but building a product like this allows me build without putting too much pressure on any individual product.
 
The end goal is to increase my portfolio of bets, as Daniel Vassallo would say.
 

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

There are six core pieces of software.
 
For the landing page, I use Webflow. I already have a subscription so it's easy to spin up new pages here. I also bought a domain name that redirects to this page, making it slightly easier to market it.
 
 I run the email-based course through ConvertKit, as a sequence that kicks off every Monday.
 
Each email includes a Loom walkthrough video for each lesson, along with a pre-designed Figma file to complete the challenge. 
 
I use Circle to augment the course with a community to field questions and give feedback on the challenges. 
 
Finally, I use Thrivecart (connected to Stripe) to handle the checkout process, which uses ConvertKit's integration to kick off the sequence automatically using a tag. 
 
The limitations of this setup are minimal, but I'm mainly dependent on the uptime of each of these services. If Figma or ConvertKit goes down, I'm screwed. In two cases, people have been unable to find a delivered email, so I've forwarded those along using my own account.
 

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

Webflow for my sites, giving me super powers to spin up landing pages that look great, and feel unique. I depend on ConvertKit for building a waitlist for my live workshop and segmenting my audience, but regularly use Substack for my own weekly newsletter, which I prefer to write in. (Although I may consolidate in the future)
I currently use Superhuman for email, and a combination of Roam and Notion to take notes and organize my to-do lists. 
Twitter is my main social platform of choice, and where I regularly find interesting conversations
.Freshbooks for invoicing client work and tracking time.
 

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

Learn to write, and do it as often as you can.
 
 Find an outlet you enjoy—like a newsletter—but make this a priority. This has been the best way to share my ideas, build an audience, and invite others into your world. It's also great to build a queue of writing you can share to commonly asked questions. E.g. Khe Hy can quickly reference his most popular articles with custom TextExpander shortcuts.
 
Get comfortable asking for help, and look to build a small mastermind of people you can share learnings with. Being the person to initiate this is one way of showing up, and you'll quickly become a resource for other people too. 
 
Build quickly, and diversify. I tend to follow Daniel Vassallo's advice of focusing on creating a portfolio of small bets, because you can't predict what will succeed. So be your own VC and place a lot of bets.
 
Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. Get better at storytelling. 
The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier.
Learn to differentiate yourself. 
My First Million podcast: Learn to listen and look for business opportunities out in the world.