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MAKE: Bootstrapper's Handbook

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learn to bootstrap profitable startups the indie way

194 pages, ebook

Published March 12, 2018

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Pieter Levels

1 book42 followers

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5 stars
228 (38%)
4 stars
233 (39%)
3 stars
105 (17%)
2 stars
19 (3%)
1 star
6 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews
Profile Image for Ahmad Abugosh.
Author 1 book23 followers
June 12, 2018
A great straightforward quick read for the person thinking of starting their own solo venture. The main idea behind the book is you need to come up with ideas, ship faster, validate your idea with as little money as possible, expect most ideas to fail, and when you do get some traction, look to turn it into a lifestyle business. Although you may benefit from the technical tools mentioned, what I found to be the most beneficial was how Pieter talked about the step step approach he took (in the first half of the book), as well as the mindset needed to make it work, which is really helpful for anyone that is looking for a successful strategy to test.
Profile Image for Swann Polydor.
61 reviews7 followers
May 15, 2018
I am glad he mentioned Typeform which I had forgotten, so I integrated it into a small project. I was able to quickly test the potential of an idea.

Besides this, the book was written fast, nothing new under the sun: ship, ship, ship which is surely a good philosophy that works for Pieter (and should work for anyone who puts his ass on a chair on Friday nights instead of drinking beers at the bar) but content-wise it's meh.
23 reviews
July 21, 2019
The quality of this book is below a threshold for a book that is sold to people. Lots of typos, missing words or repeated paragraphs.

It seems the writer is solely driven to make money, any way he can. That he succeeds is good for him and could be seen as inspiring, but not to me. As a reader I don't feel respected of my time.

The ideas in this book are all over the place and could be way better described if the writer had spend some time editing or hiring an editor.
Profile Image for Edvins Antonovs.
19 reviews2 followers
July 3, 2019
Despite being a big Pieter's fan for years where I read, seen and listened to blog posts, videos and podcasts. I found a few interesting things for myself, but the majority of the book’s content you probably already know if you are somewhat familiar with him.

Example: Pieter's 1h talk at Dojo Bali Turning Side Projects into Profitable Startups (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6reLW...) covers 7 stages of creating a startup which were mentioned in the book too

💡 Idea
🛠 Build
🚀 Launch
🌱 Grow
💰 Monetize
🤖 Automate
🚪 Exit

I’d still say MAKE book is solid 4/5 ⭐️.

The only thing I would keep in mind is the book price. I bought it while it was on the pre-release/discounted price $20 (~£15), yet $30 (~£23) looks slight overprice to me.
Profile Image for Bouke.
169 reviews30 followers
December 28, 2018
Fairly enjoyable read, but if you’re familiar with Pieter’s work and follow him on Twitter you will have absorbed most of the information already. Recommended for someone who wants to start their own solo software biz
Profile Image for Jakub Dembiński.
69 reviews3 followers
May 29, 2022
Krótka i zwięzła pozycja, która ciągle też się rozwija. Bardzo oryginalny projekt książki, która żyje i jest aktualizowana na bieżąco. Akurat czytałem ją równolegle z książką "Minimalistyczny przedsiębiorca" i widać tutaj podobne podejście autorów.

Myślą przewodnią tej książki jest to, że trzeba skupiać się na rozwiązywaniu problemów, dowozić rozwiązania szybko, sprawdzać ich poprawność za jak najmniejsze pieniądze, oczekiwać, że większość pomysłów zakończy się niepowodzeniem, a kiedy już się uda, dążyć do przekształcenia ich w biznes oparty na stylu życia.

Dodatkowo Pieter dzieli się narzędziami, których używa w swoich inicjatywach, co może pomóc na starcie. Książka jak najbardziej wpasowuje się w nowy trend no-code (szybkie odpalanie projektu) i automatyzacji (zatrudnianie botów zamiast ludzi).
Profile Image for Tom Rogers.
34 reviews25 followers
December 23, 2020
I don't think it's fair to rate this book until I have put it into action.

What I will say is I really enjoyed it. Quick, actionable read.

I skimmed parts that I already knew but there are lots of great ideas in there which Pieter has proven to work.

I will be using this book in 2021 to launch my own startups quick.
Profile Image for Irina Demidova.
50 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2022
Easy to read handbook about startup full cycle. I found it pretty useful and inspiring. The author shares his practical experience in a sincere and simple way w/o some unnecessary theoretical stuff and pathos but with great examples and quotes.
Totally recommend for all who are interested in startups.
Profile Image for Lindolfo Lorn Rodrigues.
68 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2019
Great book, if you have a dream to have an Indie Startup this guy shares he experience saying what worked what didn't and what is the possibilities.
9 reviews
April 30, 2018
This book is a for a very specific audience with very specific interests and life situation.

Living as a nomad for a couple of years and being in the tech/online industry as a jack of all trades creator (marketing, design, coding...), this book is a great sum up of what you need to go through to actually have an accomplishment.

However, if your life doesn’t fit that picture, this book can be quite frustrating. It does not provide nicely rounded view. I would say, if you are not a tech person, you can still pick up some important points, which I mostly agree with, but 75% of the book might not be of interest at all. It is just something to keep in mind.

Although this is a super niche book, in my opinion, I am giving it 4 stars. I believe of you are a tech person who wants to truly escape the old working day type, the advice in the book you get is the right one. I got to know Pieter in Bali when he was working on the initial versions of his nomadlist and I can honestly say, the way he does things is the only way to have a nicely balanced and happy life.

I have worked on a bunch of products, worked on my own online projects and I am mostly coming to the same conclusions he is. So, one star down for the super niche, but the rest is what the ideas really are worth.
Profile Image for Kamil Powałowski.
7 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2018
For me, Pieter Levels' book MAKE is a great example of how Startups should be created. Made with passion, not with VC money, with keeping cost on an as low level as possible. They should be series of many MVPs early published and quickly pivoted/validated.
MAKE is full of real-life examples, that shows how to start with a side project that solves our problems and turn them into a profitable company. It also gives us some idea, how NomadList was created.
For everyone, considering this book - watch this Pieter Levels presentation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6reLW... If you will love it (I bet you will), then buy MAKE.
May 23, 2019
Book was meh overall, but had many grammatical errors that I just couldn't stand in a book with that price tag.

The content was ok-ish, it looked more like a series of blog post than a proper book to be honest.

Sometimes it looks like he writes some of his opinions as if they were facts.

You can definitely get something out of it, but 29$? how many proper books can you buy for that?

I'm in the process of trying to get a refund (after the 30 days have passed) and I couldn't find a functional email address to ask for it, ended up tweeting at him. Will update with the outcome.

update: he replied to my tweet, no money back as more than 30 days has passed.
Profile Image for Bálint.
259 reviews32 followers
March 12, 2019
great summary, although full of typos and grammar mistakes. there are links that don't even work (his older product placestowork still has a link, and the app is long dead).

Not sure why it's in a book format though, as he said he would continously update it - a book is a terrible format for that, as no one will re-read it, so missing out on that info.

Apart from this, I really liked it, easy to digest, there are a lot of practical tips. I also miss a community for this book. Would be great to talk about ideas with fellow makers who read the book.
Profile Image for Sadra Amlashi.
Author 1 book10 followers
July 12, 2023
"MAKE Book: The Indie Maker Handbook" is a comprehensive and insightful guide that takes readers through the entire journey of indie making. With a focus on practicality, this book provides valuable advice and actionable steps for aspiring indie makers.

The book is divided into eight chapters, each covering a crucial aspect of the indie making process. From generating ideas to successfully exiting a venture, the author provides clear and concise guidance that is easy to follow.

The first chapters emphasize the importance of originality and problem-solving, encouraging readers to draw inspiration from their own lives. The author cautions against building products without a genuine problem to solve, advocating for a customer-centric approach.

Subsequent chapters delve into building, launching, growing, and monetizing a product. The author stresses the significance of utilizing existing skills and tools, avoiding unnecessary learning curves, and embracing an iterative approach to product development and launch.

One notable aspect of this book is the emphasis on organic growth and ethical practices. The author emphasizes the importance of building a great product that genuinely meets the needs of its users, avoiding data selling and excessive advertising. The ethical dimension is highlighted as a competitive advantage in an industry that often falls short in this regard.

Furthermore, the book addresses automation, offering insights on when and how to automate tasks effectively. It also provides guidance on exit strategies, encouraging indie makers to let buyers come to them and negotiate from a position of strength.

The inclusion of homework exercises at the end of each chapter is a notable feature of the book. Readers are encouraged to actively engage with the material by applying it to their own projects, making this a practical handbook rather than mere theoretical discourse.

In conclusion, "MAKE Book: The Indie Maker Handbook" is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the indie making journey. It offers practical advice, emphasizes ethical practices, and provides actionable steps for success. Whether you're a novice or an experienced entrepreneur, this book is a worthwhile read that will inspire and guide you on your indie making path.
10 reviews
April 7, 2023
Yes, the book may have been written hastily or in a scrappy manner. However, I still find it inspiring and very practical, just like his products.

Pieter does an excellent job covering most of the things you need to consider when starting a fully bootstrapped indie startup with a focus on selling a digital product. He discusses both philosophical and practical aspects of nearly everything you can think of regarding a bootstrapped startup, including ideas, payments, onboarding, and more.

The only point I disagree with Pieter on is that I believe it's possible to create an indie startup out of problems that aren't only yours. I find that view quite limiting, and all the businesses I've created weren't based solely on my own problems. However, aside from that, the book is excellent!
Profile Image for White Rose.
176 reviews64 followers
August 25, 2022
I am an idiot because I have bought into his stories and blog posts about his tiny projects.
But this is another of his 'projects' based on FAQs (he states it himself) on the web which are chaotically glued together to constitute a 'book';
it is glorified brochure I have paid 29 USD for (yes, I have told you I am an idiot above);

Looks like I am hopeless, I expected more value from that brochure, I didn't need the description of CRON jobs, Upwork or Patreon. No, really, I came for the launch algo and I got a short demo version of it littered with quotes and dated examples.

I wouldn't buy it folks.
Just read some 50+ medium posts for free... or watch the YC's Youtube channel.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
55 reviews3 followers
October 26, 2022
My biggest criticism for this book (and it is mentioned in the introduction) is that it suffers from survivorship bias, and actually the main impactful bit is mentioned in one paragraph. For example:

There's a whole section about launching your product. Where and how to do an outreach, to succeed. Great, but I can attest that it does not work, unless you already have buzz around your name. And this is exactly what the author mentions at the end of the section: "I had an online following for a few years before launch writing about the problem my product was solving."

That said, there is still some old and new valuable advice, that's worth listening to. Hence, 3 stars.
Profile Image for Lucas Puskaric.
19 reviews1 follower
December 22, 2020
Well written and consistently updated! The most interesting way I've seen to distribute a book.

Content wise it is accessible to non-tech folks but has plenty for the tech oriented.

I think a lot of people try too hard and skip easy ways to automate their own existences. The chapter on automation seems so obvious, but nowadays with static hosting people don't often own their own servers to run scripts on. A few simple cronjobs could cache data to save the owner time, increase load times, reduce calls to external API providers, and compile shareable social media.
150 reviews3 followers
June 20, 2022
Very honest, down to earth, no bullshit set of ideas about bootstrapped entrepreneurship. And, I can not stress this enough, it comes from a guy that actually did it. Not some wana be bullshit salesman that is doing a pyramid scheme.
For me, it is kind of like a 4 minute mile.

But don't expect a magic spell. It will be a ton of hard work and a ton of things that you may not like. But at least, you will kind of know what to be prepared for.

Mr Levels, you are the gateway drug.
You were the final push. I wander if it will be off the cliff, or into a lovely flight. Only time will tell.
157 reviews2 followers
June 28, 2020
Make is a book that was written by a guy who doesn't believe in writing books. And he says so himself. Pieter Levels is a developer who became well known by the website Nomad List, a thing that became a business and that led to other businesses.
The book is nice, a light read, emphasizing the lean startup model, with most value add on the Launch part where he describes in detail how to approach websites like Product Hunt / Reddit and others.
Profile Image for Madhur Bhargava.
Author 2 books12 followers
December 9, 2022
A quick read, the real value of which(for me personally) lies in the number of tools introduced in the text. Given the author's expertise, his inclination towards web apps is quiet obvious and hence the provided advice should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the author has provided clarity regarding the indie maker's thought process, methodology and details of their tech stack which is very valuable to the readers.
Profile Image for TJ.
9 reviews
February 15, 2023
Very practically written, this is basically an autobiography. It dives from general advice about bootstrapping a global digital startup all the way down to specific tooling choices.

Pietr does caveat survivorship bias here, but I think it’s worth mentioning again here. It would help to learn about other businesses that have had a similar journey to provide some more assurance that his path isn’t as rare as it seems.
Profile Image for Wouter.
17 reviews1 follower
August 18, 2023
Fantastic book. Really nice writing style and good stuff to know about if you’re on the verge of starting or thinking about it. I just love the simplicity and the alternate ways of setting up your business even when you can’t code (specific) parts of your business yet. Even if you’re not going for your own startup, the mindset in itself is worthwhile using in your own job. Automate whenever possible!
Profile Image for Zain Fathoni.
4 reviews3 followers
May 8, 2018
In this book, Levels introduced radical principles of building startups against the 'popular' mindset of Silicon Valley startups in general. He explained them in a concise way so it's easy enough to grasp the concepts. I found those principles inspiring and want to implement them in building my own indie startups in the future.
Profile Image for Zdk.
19 reviews
October 10, 2018
Pieter's MAKE book is very honest, opinated way of bootstrapping online business. He has done the thing and write the book with easy to digest content unlike other self-pro-claimed consultantcy style business book. This book will remind you that you don't need to do complicated stuff to find business value. The key is to keep experiment with customers.
Profile Image for Franklyn Gonzalez.
Author 1 book4 followers
February 1, 2019
This is a book I have to come back to in the future. The first 100 pages are enough for me. As a new programmer and an experienced digital marketer, I can resonate with most of what Pieter is saying here.

It also means that you should take action under any idea within a month. That's a good measure, especially how helpful he puts it in how long it should take you.
Profile Image for Oriol Segarra.
17 reviews3 followers
September 3, 2019
Although a bit basic and plain on reading, the concepts, vision and way of starting business is like a punch on the face of all the b*llsh*t literature around startups. Is cutting all the junk from entrepreneurs gurus and VCs sharks and going to the point.

Make something people want to pay for and grow it.
Profile Image for Héctor Iván Patricio Moreno.
328 reviews17 followers
March 9, 2021
Me decepcionó mucho por el tipo de consejos tan genéricos que da: "libera rápido", "has las cosas simples", "empieza con un MVP", "no gastes mucho".

No tiene consejos accionables directos y la parte que encontré más valiosa por informativa fue la parte de la venta de la empresa.

Relacionado con lo que cuesta, lo de un libro normal, este libro anecdótico no aporta mucho valor.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews

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