Stephen Ou is a up-and-coming entrepreneur who had several products under his belt. He is the founder of Artsy Editor, a well-loved WordPress editor used by many popular bloggers. He takes care of every part of Artsy Editor, from starting marketing campaign to answering support emails, from writing code to making Photoshop design. Before Artsy Editor, he also created several successful, widely-used web apps including iTunes Instant and TwtRoulette. In total they’ve attracted over three hundred thousands users in less than a year. His work had been featured on Inc. Magazine, Forbes, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, and more.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I am putting my attention on marketing Artsy Editor. I believe no matter how good the product is, I have to promote it as hard as I can to be successful. I have a long list of 100 items of marketing ideas that I am implementing.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m at summer break right now, so I have more time to work. Here’s what it usually looks like (though it’s always flexible):
8:00 Wake up
8:30-10:00 Handle any administrative tasks necessary. This includes answering support emails, replying on Facebook & Twitter, sorting out billing problems, maintaining our website, etc.
10:00 – 11:00 Plan out for the day
11:30 – 1:30 Badminton summer camp
3:00 – 6:00 Focus on marketing. There are wide range of things I might be doing. Just few examples: Create and check AdWords campaign; Email bloggers and journalist and let them try us out; Write blog posts for us or others (guest blogging); Create A/B testing on the website; Analyze sales report to see what goes well and what doesn’t; Talk directly to customers and listen to their feedback.
6:00 – 7:00 Another round of going through support requests as they are always coming in.
9:00 – 12:00 This is when I do all my development. It is just a habit I have – coding at late night is a huge productivity boost.
3 trends that excite you?
1. Seamless syncing – the ability to have the same copy available everywhere I go and save all the changes instantly.
2. How technology as a whole is helping businesses to grow. It’s amazing to see a company save millions of dollars by a piece of technology.
3. The lean startup approach which businesses are starting lean and iterating as they grow.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First, it’s the validation process. I strongly believe it’s stupid to write a line of code without someone is already willing to pay for it.
Once the idea is proved by potential customers, I’ll go to a whiteboard to visualize the idea. I’ll plan out how each screen looks like, how them connect to each other, and tweak them until it makes sense.
Then I’ll go on a coding period which I tend to crank out all the code as fast as possible.
One note I want to make is I never launch a perfect product. I admit that Artsy Editor has a small bug that will take a while to fix (it involves browser capability). But I let it go and no one had had a problem with it so far. If I did spend the time to fix it, I would launched couple days late and lost many potential sales.
What inspires you?
My happy customers who genuinely love my product.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I’ve been to this situation before: came up with a very cool idea in shower, became super excited instantly, and started building it in the exact same night.
I always thought this was going to be a revolutionary idea and change the world. But what ended up happening was no one paid for it. Even worse, nobody wanted to use it.
Lesson learned: Regardless how excited I am, I have to ask if this is what people want. If it is, build it. If not, move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’ll pay for this right now: FaceTime for connecting with customers. I want online business to have the same interaction as brick-and-mortar stores. When a visitor comes in, he/she can see and talk to a human where they can get all questions answered. And the business will increase their sales.
What do you read every day, and why?
I simply don’t read every day. There is always a never-ending stream of articles. If I read everything that interests me, I’ll never get any work done.
I use Instapaper to save articles with a headline that interests me (that’s why link bait content always performs well, because I don’t have the time to skim the content.
I like to read action-oriented articles. Because I know what I can do directly is to take those actions and see if it works.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Getting Real by 37Signals. It takes you from procrastination to reality.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Websites: Flow, Clicky, WooThemes
Mac apps: Coda, Dropbox, CloudApp, TextExpander, 1Password
iOS apps: Instapaper, Reeder, iA Writer
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
@dhh – Always tweeting in his own voice.
@oldmansearch – LOLz.
@maxschoeben – A dog who happens to be funny.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.
Re-reading Ken Jennings’ IAmA Reddit thread. He is too smart and funny.
I’m an enthusiast wanna-be entrepreneur. Where do I get started?
Step 1: Find a small problem you see people have on a daily basis.
Step 2: Come up with a solution that saves time and/or money.
Step 3: Tell people who have the same problem.
Step 4: Offer them the solution
Step 5: Charge how much it’s worth
Do I have no other interest than technology?
No. My full list of interest: playing badminton, memorizing maps, taking pictures in Instagram, playing ping pong, watching golf, solving Sudoku, playing basketball, seeing politician’s never-ending disagreement, digging through Jeopardy questions.
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