One year of indie hacking, I've learned a lot!

Hi! I'm Damon, founder of Testimonial. You probably heard me on Twitter (@damengchen). In case you didn't, this tweet tells who I am.
 
 
I was a software engineer at Cisco for crazy EIGHT years!
 
Many of my colleagues went to FANG with a much higher package; I didn't!
 
Some ambitious ones went to fast-growing startups; I didn't!
 
A few "lucky" ones got a massive package after their companies went public or are acquired; I didn't!
 
I may sound like a lifer or even a loser in my professional career! One of my teammates who I mentored recently got promoted to tech lead after I quit my job. If I didn't quit, I guess I'm now a tech lead.
 
Am I regret it? No! Quitting my day job is the best decision I've ever made in my whole adulthood, yet a tough and scary one!
 
If I stay, I know what it would be. It won't be as much different as in the past eight years. In the end, I just add a few more projects and increment my years of experience in my LinkedIn profile.
 
Well, it's worth noting that nothing wrong with climbing up the traditional career ladder. I know many of my friends became financially independent after working at big companies for several years. It's still a huge success!
 
But in the end, it's all up to what my inner desire wants!
 
I want to do things I'm crazily passionate about; building my own sustainable business is one of them, and I've been dreaming of it for years!
 
I want to give a massive shoutout to Courtland for creating the fantastic indie hackers community. I signed up indiehackers.com at the end of 2019 and have been a lurker for several months. Until April 2020, when the pandemic hit, I started to work from home, no commute needed. It gave me an extra 2 hours a day to build my side hustles. I started writing the code, shipping products, and engaging with the community.
 
I built five apps in 2020. I wrote a thread about it👇
 
 
TL;DR: Never stop, keep building!
 
Now, I mainly focus on building Testimonial, an app to collect video testimonials. It has $2,258 MRR right now with 81 active subscribers. Four months ago, it was still $0.
 
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Exploring new techs

In the past year, I self-taught web development. I learned React, Node, REST API, Webhook, Firebase, Stripe, etc. While in my employment history, I have no way to explore these many excellent techs within a year. I only professionalized my Linux Kernel, Operating System, C, and C++, and I spent eight years.

Wearing different hats

I started to ramp up my non-technical skills like marketing, sales, and customer support. As a previous Cisco employee, I never had a chance to talk to a single Cisco customer directly. I don't know if they have any feedback or not. All I got is the supporting ticket and bug report. Now I talk to my customers every single day. Knowing what they truly need and making it happen is such great satisfaction.

Expanding my network

I also had the chance to meet so many great people while building in public over Twitter! I still clearly remember when I first got a like from my biggest hero Pieter Levels (Founder of Nomadlist), my heart rate shot up. It's fantastic to interact with my role models, my fellow makers, and some people who might just start.
 
I could never imagine I can grow my Twitter follower from 70 last year to 7000. In my day job, my network is all about my team. It's not so easy to expand my circle. Now building in public gives me this great opportunity to get some extra exposure on the internet!

Embrace the uncertainty

My indie hacking journey turned one year old. It used to be an infant. Now it enters the toddler's stage. Everything in the day job is a certainty, salary raise, promotion. Indie hacking is all about exploring new areas that we never touched before, so many things to learn, so many things to try, so many things to fail, and so many things to succeed.
 
That's me! If you want to follow my journey, here is my Twitter handle @damengchen.