Round 28 - Apr 9, 2020

Showing Epek

Ditch Jira and over-management, focus on your goals

This week I asked a few questions to Balach Hussain, that I met through Frenl.

He started as a developer then switched to product management before recently starting to work full time on his collaborative roadmap project: Epek. He successfully went from idea to launch in only four months!

👋 Hello Balach! What is your current situation? What are you working on?

Hey Fabien! I’m working on epek.app, a tool to create great product roadmaps in minutes without the headache that comes with all the other tools :) we’re in week 10 of our beta and growing steadily!

🎓 What is your background? Where did you study or how did you start?

I studied computer science and had various tech jobs going from project management to quality assurance to frontend development and then product management in the last 4 years. I switched to Product Management because I was always obsessed with thinking through our development tasks and figuring out how that contributed to the big product or business goals.

Turns out my team saw that and told me I was pretty much doing two jobs and getting more joy out of the “product management” part. So I decided to make it my proper profession. I still love coding myself but see myself as much more useful as the product person.

The official switch to product management showed me all the issues that product managers face, and the biggest of them all: proper strategic communication. I eventually quit my job and started working full time on Epek in October last year!

🍹 What would you be doing if you never had to work again?

Oh I would be building up epek.app, doing a lot of sports (I recently fell in love with Tennis), and travel the world!

🌟 Who or what has positively influenced you the most in your life/work?

Mindfulness has truly transformed me, and it would not have been possible without the many amazing teachers I had along the way! I learnt about Mindfulness about 5 years ago while watching a TED talk. Since then I read up a few books about it, learnt proper mindfulness meditation with Buddhist teachers, started practicing yoga and so on.

The best thing I got out of it was to do everything with attention and kindness. This truly changed me as a person, a team member, and as a leader. I have been able deal with plenty of otherwise stressful situations and help those around me, simply thanks to the bit of mindfulness I have been able to integrate in my life. Here’s one of the first videos that got the mindfulness ball rolling for me: Watch on Youtube

😈 Do you have an opinion that you’re sure is true, but a majority of people would not agree with you - and if yes, what is it?

It’s time to introduce Universal Basic Income to the entire world. I think it’s a viable alternative to existing state support systems and will lead to a less stressful and more creative world.

⏰ Time for some elevator pitching! What is Epek?

epek.app is the best way to create product roadmaps or any plans. You open it up and you see your next goal, the one after it, and how each of those eventually connect with your long term goals. By always starting with your goals, you get rid any non-essential information. This invites the right kind of discussions within teams leading to a much higher productivity and level of happiness.

In short Epek is all about focus and collaboration, while other tools might be better for documentation or task management.

💡 Why did you start it? What motivated you?

Throughout my career, I always felt the need for a simple way to communicate product strategy and found the existing tools sorely lacking in this respect. That’s how the idea for Epek was born.

I noticed how time and again teams failed to reach their goals not because of themselves but because the existing tools actually were letting them get lost in details, rather than helping them focus on their goals. I believe people are capable of doing amazing work, if the tools get out of the way and let them focus on their own creative process!

🌱 How did you attract your first users? How are you growing Epek?

We are focusing on word of mouth organic growth. When we started, I wrote to a bunch of friends on Linkedin and asked them to try Epek out and share their feedback. Some of them became regular users since then, others helped share it further. Since then, I’ve been writing articles, as well as sharing news about Epek’s progress on social media, and that’s where most of our users come from.

💰 What is or would be your business model?

Epek is a SaaS product, with its core proposition being “continuous collaboration”, so naturally we went for a monthly subscription business with an incredibly fair pricing model i.e. You only pay for editing users and get free unlimited viewers. We noticed that other vendors try to lock you in with a trial period and then make you pay for every single user, even if they are just observers. That model actually forces startup teams to either abandon the tools, overpay, or exclude some team members.

We wanted to change that and serve our users before making money. We actually offer a free plan with the only limitation of having up to 3 editing collaborators.

🛠 What are your current and next steps? How could we help you?

Since we’re a small startup with only organic growth as a realistic option, we need all the help with spreading the word and sharing Epek.app with anyone you think might benefit from it! On our side, we keep building and refining Epek based on our vision and your feedback.

🥇 What is the achievement that you’re the most proud of?

Going from just an idea at the beginning of October to launching at end of January, in 4 months! It’s been an amazing journey and great learning experience!

💩 What about your most epic mess-up?

What mess up? :P I think we lost about 3 days trying to get a great looking datepicker component to work on Epek, because we wanted to give our users the most intuitive experience. In the end we figured out a much simpler and elegant solution with the initial datepicker we had started with :D

🧙 Any magic trick to share with us? The one piece of advice that you would give?

Always ask how the work you are doing will end up benefitting your users. That’s the best way to avoid detours, over-engineering, and/or vanity work. Stay real!

🚀 Any other projects/side-projects you’ve been working on?

It’s all about epek.app these days :)

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by Balach Hussain
Founder at epek.app
Berlin, Germany
👋 Get in touch with Balach

Welcome!

I know how valuable networking is yet I never find the energy to go to Meetups. That's why Frenl :)