Cam Sloan is the founder of Hopscotch, simple user onboarding software for SaaS companies. Cam has been navigating his entrepreneurial journey largely by building in public on Twitter to share the ups and downs of entrepreneurship along the way.
Where did the idea for Hopscotch come from?
The idea behind Hopscotch isn’t new by any means. There are plenty of user onboarding tools in the market. What I found though was that many of the existing solutions were overpriced and very complex to use. I felt there was an opportunity to simplify the process and make a user onboarding tool that is affordable for small businesses.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As a solo founder at an early-stage company, my days could include anything from working on a marketing strategy, to designing and building a new feature, to jumping on a sales demo call to try to close a new customer account. So there really isn’t a typical day.
The key for making my days productive is to keep a list of tasks, prioritize those tasks, and just start chipping off one item at a time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
How I DON’T bring ideas to life: sit in a room and wait for good ideas to appear out of thin air.
How I DO bring ideas to life: conduct research and talk to people. For example, if it’s a new business, I will research which solutions already exist and figure out their pricing, revenue, features, and learn as much as I can about the market. Then, I’ll go find and talk to people in that market. I’ll ask them questions based on their experience with their existing solutions and let them generate the ideas for me.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about the upward trend in independently owned and operated software companies – the “mom and pop shops” of the software world.
There are a lot of opportunities to build sustainable and profitable software companies, whether or not you know how to code, and whether or not you decide to take funding.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
For me, to be more productive as an entrepreneur, it’s extremely important that I take time away from the business to rest and recover. So I have a habit/hobby of going for long walks with my camera taking pictures of my surroundings. I do this as frequently as I can, daily if possible. This helps me to disconnect from the business, and keeps me energized to come back to the business each day without getting burned out.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn in the way that suits you best. It doesn’t need to be structured in a classroom with a professor and a slide deck.
You can learn from videos on YouTube, or an online course from an independent creator, or by getting out into the real world and practicing.
Go with the medium or channel that best suits your learning style, and don’t worry about getting a piece of paper to prove it. Worry about learning the things you’re interested in and putting them into practice.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe that most people could learn how to code. Many people think you need to have super powers to learn programming, or that it’s only for certain kinds of people who are good at math.
Personally, I really struggled with it in the early days. I did not just “get it” by any means. I learned programming by consistent practice over a very long period of time, just like how people learn most things.
If you are even the least bit interested in learning how to code, I recommend you try it. It’s incredibly rewarding once it starts to click, and it has opened many doors for me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Go do things you’re bad at. Don’t know how to draw? Go draw. Don’t know how to speak Spanish? Try to learn it. Don’t know how to dance? Take dance lessons.
I often put myself in a position where I am learning something new from scratch. It gets me comfortable with the feeling of being bad at things. As you try more things, you start to realize that you can simply practice and improve upon them.
This is how I am able to run a startup as a solo founder managing the marketing, sales, design, and development as a one-person team.
If you build up a habit of constantly learning new things, you become better at learning in general, and it pushes you to continuously go beyond your comfort zone.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focus on truly helping people (and businesses) to solve their problems.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I fail every day. Sometimes I fail to get anything done in a day. Sometimes I fail to write a blog post. Sometimes I fail to build a feature in time.
When it comes to failure, the most important thing for me is reflecting with the intention of understanding why something failed, and understanding how I can improve upon the process next time to set myself up for success the next time around.
Also, I try not to beat myself up about failure. Failure is a huge part of the entrepreneurial journey. If you’re not failing at things, you’re either the luckiest person in the world, or more likely, you’re not taking big enough risks.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This is not a specific business idea, but here is my take on coming up with business ideas:
Find a market/business that already exists and has competitors, then go build a better, cheaper, or more niche version of that solution. Figure out which of those angles to take by talking to existing customers in that market and finding out what is missing from their existing solution.
When you build in an existing market category, you can skip a lot of the validation needed to test if you are building something that is valuable that people will actually pay for. You already have proof of this based on existing market demand.
Then, you just need to focus on 1) building the right solution, and 2) finding channels to reach those customers. You can gradually solve both 1 and 2 by continuously talking to people in the market.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Daniel Vasallo’s “Everyone can build a Twitter audience” (https://dvassallo.gumroad.com/l/twitter-audience) is less than $100 and helped me grow a valuable network of friends, customers, and peers over the past year.
Twitter is an amazing place to network, but a lot of us don’t approach it the right way. Daniel’s course can get that sorted for you and put you on the right track to finding real value out of Twitter. The return on investment from this course has been outstanding.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use SavvyCal to manage all my meetings and it saves me a ton of time that would otherwise be spent going back and forth doing the “calendar dance.”
To use it, I share a scheduling link with the person (potential customers, partners, or anyone that wants to book time with me). It generates an event with a video conferencing URL, and that’s pretty much it. I love it, and the people who are booking time with me love it as well.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. It’s not your usual business book. Derek is open and honest about the ups and downs of running an independent business, and demonstrates that you can approach entrepreneurship however you want to, to shape it in a way that best suits you.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be helpful on the internet” – Adam Wathan
- Continuously learn new things
- Speak with and listen to customers
- Truly help people in solving their problems
- Fail early and often
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.