Stephen Thomello Matsasa

Software Developer

Stephen is a 23-year-old self-taught software developer, freelancer, digital nomad, and indie maker with over 10 years of experience writing software. Originally from Lesotho in Southern Africa, Stephen’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to become a startup founder raking Millions in his country. Now, he’s making waves worldwide, especially in the US market. With freelancing gigs spanning 15+ countries,

His indiehacking journey has seen him successfully sell two AI startups, with the third acquisition already on the way. He is also a co-founder of an IT consultancy firm operating from his home country -Lesotho.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My typical day as a freelancer and indie hacker is a well-balanced blend of focused work, creative exploration, and intentional breaks.

Every morning when I wake the very first thing I do is have a cup of coffee and then take my morning walk. When I return I take a shower (sometimes cold) and then take my phone and FIRST check with my freelancing clients. I check if we have any pending issues with them and I either set reminders for them (especially meetings).

Freelancing concurrently with Indiehacking is very hard, finding a perfect balance is very challenging so for that i normally just treat my freelancing work as a 9-5 job and then do indiehacking projects from 6 pm till I drop. This is probably the only productivity hack i have found to work for my journey.

During the day I normally don’t use my phone a lot – I check my Twitter on breaks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Well, it depends on what the idea is and what the goal with it is at the end of the day.

If the idea is of a small side project i am doing just to learn some technology or building something “cool”, then i normally just try to write down what the idea is, make that vision as clear as possible, research some inspirations for it then jump right into coding the MVP.

If the idea is of a very serious project that I hope to grow or sell at some point I normally take some time to do market research, talk to potential clients, share on my Twitter, and then I can start building the MVP. This helps me not to build products that people don’t even want to use.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Well, it think it’s AI obviously. There have been a lot of advancements in this space this couple past of months. The market is very lucrative at the moment, people are still very excited about AI and this makes it easy to come up with good products.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

I am not sure if this qualifies as a habit, but I think my little use of social media helps me a lot. I don’t use my phone a lot, i normally spend most of my time either, working, learning, or reading something exciting.
This has helped me a lot over the years and i think it makes me way more productive than most people.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I think am still fairly young to give my even younger self a piece of advice but if I had to advise anyone who wants to do the things am doing now, i would say stay open, stay curious. This has to be the easiest and most fun time to be anything you want and dream of. As long as you keep exploring and finding new horizons exciting things tend to happen.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you.

Hard one, I am not sure if nobody agrees with me on this but – Freelancing is way better than a full-time Job.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Do more, learn more, be more.
This is probably the best advice I have for literally everyone. The only gap between where you are and where you want to be can only be closed by constantly learning, exploring, and doing more things, that’s the only way to take that jump!

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Stay away. I normally take a few days off where I do NOTHING but take nice calm walks. This helps me relax and pick up my energy. When i return to working again, i take things slowly and gradually build my momentum again. Works like a charm!

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

I think this would be Networking and selling yourself and your business. At the end of the day, I think the growth of every person and/or business boils down to the opportunities you get exposed to, these opportunities are represented by the number of human interactions you make so the more the merrier.

What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

For me failure did not come as a sudden or abrupt event that happened, I was born into failure. I grew up in a poor household in Lesotho and this meant odds were stacked against me. First, my country is already one of the poorest in the world. Second, my family was poor, which means no food sometimes, no internet, no electronics, and no proper education. This means I had to get everything on my own, I had to get my mindset right and try to see myself beyond these circumstances and it was honestly challenging and hard – it still is, These challenges coupled with other small business setbacks really taught me to be relentless and just go get what I want!

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

White-labeling as service.
This is one idea I had contemplated, and have seen only one person or group try to do it on Twitter. I think they still have no MVP up yet.
So white-labeling occurs when the manufacturer of an item uses the branding requested by the purchaser, or marketer, instead of its own.
So the idea is to make a sort of marketplace that has all these solutions anyone can come and rebrand as their own and sell them. The owner of the original product gets some shares in that product.

This can help founders like me who just want to build products but don’t have the necessary marketing skills to get it out of the door.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Slack. Since I have a lot of things I do – I have set up Slack channels for everything I do. So I have a freelancing channel that I use to talk to my clients. Then I have a Slack channel for every other startup or side-project I am in. Helps me with organization

What is the best $100 you recently spent?

It was $84 actually. I spent it on Twitter (x) blue. I thought this new Twitter sub was just ridiculous and wouldn’t pay for it, but I finally caved in. As soon as I did my at-that-point-dead-twitter-network came to life again. I didn’t realize just how impactful not being subscribed had on my profile.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast from which you’ve received much value?

My favorite book is :
How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie – this book is magnificent. This book has shown me that everything human activity has some human transactions and getting these transactions right is the key to getting what you want out of life. Dale shares the best ways of handling people and making sure you always get the best deal for yourself. I have translated and applied these lessons into my business activities and they work like a charm!

My favorite podcast is:
My First Million by Sam Parr and Shaan Puri. This podcast shares a lot of startup-related stories told by the founders themselves – highly recommend it!

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

Silicon Valley. It’s theee best series I have ever watched and recently watched it again. It has soo many business concepts, especially entrepreneurial ones. Would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Key learnings:

-Stay curious, never stop learning, explore, and try new things every moment you get
-Network around, you don’t know who you will meet
-Go get what you want no matter the circumstance, the world is pregnant with opportunities all it needs is people who get them