How I Built an SVG
Background Pattern Generator
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello and thanks for reaching out for this interview. My name is Jim Raptis and I’m a solo founder from Greece. I specialise in the design and code ecosystem and build digital products. My latest project is MagicPattern which is a generative art app for abstract illustration patterns. It’s useful for web design and branding.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
For the past 5 years, I’ve been active in the start-up world. I’m co-founding VisualEyes, an AI app that offers visual analytics for designers and marketers. Being part of a start-up taught me valuable lessons and skills that I wanted to apply to a side project.
Last year, I started running a couple of projects on the side whilst working full-time. It’s is commonly known as indie-hacking and it becomes highly addictive. I’ve designed, build, and marketed 5-6 small solo apps but I never managed to monetize any of them.
As a designer, I often need to style screens with abstract shapes that fit a specific branding. Then, I started experimenting with geometric patterns which is an active design trend right now.
MagicPattern was born out of a need to simplify the process of pattern creation. Right now, it takes a dramatically long time to create an aesthetically pleasing pattern. And I immediately wondered whether I should build a simple app to make my life easier. Thankfully, I answered “Yes” to myself and MagicPattern was brought to life.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
Building a product as a solo maker has many difficulties. Since you’re the only person in the business, you’re responsible for the design, code, marketing and customer support.
Another struggle was the validation of the raw idea. Normally, you create a landing page to attract leads and potential customers. However, this approach did not work for me (and doesn’t for many others) as I didn’t have a massive audience to collect feedback.
To overcome this obstacle, I decided to build a quick MVP product and publicly share my progress on my Twitter account. In that way, you build transparency for your product and create excitement for your potential customers. At the same time, you gain supporters and scale up your audience. It was not difficult to find 5-10 beta users from my new audience once the MVP was ready. These people helped me spot early bugs, proposed useful features and helped me understand that the product was heading toward the right direction.
The best part of building digital products is that you can eliminate costs nearly to zero.
Who is your target market?
Background patterns are suitable for a wide array of digital products. You can decorate landing pages and apps to newsletters and social media posts. The possibilities are endless!
The target market for MagicPattern is huge. Right now, I focus on two main personas, web designers and marketers. These people spent most of their daily work life designing engaging interfaces for users and having an easy way to stylize their designs is a must.
The product is still fresh, so before expanding to more markets and personas I want to perfect the experience for my current customers.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
The official product launch was in late August. As an act of gratitude, I offered a lifetime deal offer to my early supporters and it helped me acquire my first paying customers. It was an important revenue boost to kickstart my business.
The most efficient marketing effort was launching on Product Hunt last August. MagicPattern got 10k unique visits from which almost 3k of them created an account. In parallel, I publicly shared daily updates on MagicPattern’s build process on Twitter.
Apart from that, I focus on organic traffic through blog content and my social media presence on Instagram and Dribbble, where web designers normally hang out.
Before trying paid ads, I want to figure out the profile of my most loyal users to understand their basic needs. Otherwise, paid ads will be a total waste of money!
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
In SaaS products, understanding your users and their needs is highly important. Then, I try to talk with them daily and listen to their problems. On the side, I have set up extensive product analytics that informs me about the most used features of MagicPattern. This helps me to know how to evolve my product and which features add the most value to people.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
For development, I mainly use three products. Heroku and Netlify for hosting the apps and VS Code to write the actual code.
All my design and brand assets are generated in Figma. It’s my favourite tool right now because I can nearly do anything with it. From landing page design to presentations etc.
Stripe is my state-of-the-art and robust solution for handling payments.
I use Twitter daily to update my audience about the product and personal progress and Product Hunt to keep up with all the latest product trends.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
During the past months, I learned that building your product in public is highly valuable. I spent multiple months secretly building because I was fearing that people woud not like the product or make fun of it. People love to see your progress, follow your journey and learn details about your progress.
Another important lesson was the impact of a good launch. Suddenly, your product is in front of thousands of eyes and you get bulky feedback and many new customers. Of course, it’s your responsibility to collect only the most valuable feedback and be careful of flatteries because they may make you relax that your product is finished.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
There is a magical feeling of running your own business and turning your passion into a job. You are your own boss and you’re free to do whatever you want (having your business’s good in mind, of course). As people say:
“Turn your passion into a job and you don’t have to work a single day in your life”
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you’re the only person responsible for your business’ success. Then, you have to deal with a huge amount of stress daily. The entrepreneurs’ daily life is an emotional roller coaster. You can have the best and worst memories of your life in the same day!
At the same time, your daily work is your passion. Then, it’s really easy to get carried away and overwork or even burnout. Setting boundaries between your personal and work life is necessary to keep the balance in your life.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
There are two books that entirely changed my perspective on the product world.
The first one is Hooked by Nir Eyal. In the book, he talks about how addictive apps (such as Instagram, Facebook) work and describes the mental models they use. It inspired me to build and apply these principles to my own products and my startup.
The other book is Make, written by the legend Pieter Levels. Pieter has successfully built several apps on his own and he’s reached $1M AAR. In his book, he explains his way of thinking and shares valuable tips on how to succeed as he did! It was my pure inspiration to become an indie-hacker!
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
For now, the main focus is on building a sustainable business that can allow me to gain financial independence. Every maker’s dream is to live from their side hustle.
I’m not a huge fan of huge evaluations and endless founding rounds. The ultimate goal for my SaaS business is to achieve a steady MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) that will allow me to focus 100% on it.
Product-wise, I understand that patterns are a design trend with an expiration date. Then, the longterm vision for MagicPattern is to provide a simple (one-click) editor for design graphics.