Welcome to the 9 new Ops Hackers that have joined us since last week! 🎉
I hope everyone is having a great week.
Mine is flying by as I’ve just started a new course, Makerpad’s No Code Fundamentals, this week. It’s a cohort-based online course with a focus on learning by building no code products.
Still early days, but I’m enjoying it so far. More than the actual course content, I appreciate the heightened level of accountability (Makerpad really pushes you to ship products quickly instead of taking time to make them “perfect”) and the sense of camaraderie and community with people who are just as passionate and excited about No Code as I am.
This brings me to an exciting announcement for Ops Hacks…
Ops Hacks has a new home!
As part of my course work, I’ve created a landing page for Ops Hacks at opshacks.com. And it’s a sneak preview of the next iteration of Ops Hacks: a community of startup ops folks. Yes, you read that right. Ops Hacks is going from being just a newsletter to a newsletter and a community. And I’m thrilled to be able to share this update with you first!
The need for an ops community
I could just list out the reasons for why we need an ops community, but I’ll share my story to explain why building this community is personally important :)
I was fortunate to start my ops career at Uber, where operations used to be described as being one of the two “engines” that powers the plane (i.e. Uber), along with engineering. Given the importance of operations in Uber’s business model, the company hired a lot of ops managers. And with a large headcount came a lot of benefits and resources - tangibles like internal tools and a clear career track, but perhaps more importantly, intangibles like sharing of best practices and institutional knowledge and just a lot of support in general. Folks helped each other make career pivots, find new roles after Uber, and think through sticky problems ranging from tactical (e.g. how do you write a cohort analysis SQL query?) to strategic (e.g. how should I think about geographic expansion of a marketplace business?).
Then I moved on to a new role, as COO at a seed-stage startup, and I suddenly found myself in a very small group of handful ops team members trying to figure out and set up literally everything from scratch. For example, I had to learn how to use Webflow to revamp the company’s marketing site, then go down a deep rabbit hole comparing various Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in the market to set up our recruiting operations. We had to repeat the same process for everything else, which took a lot of time away from the team - valuable time that we could’ve spent on talking to more customers or refining our product-market fit.
But when I embarked on setting up a scalable customer support system, something different happened. I already knew an ex-colleague who had done this exact thing at a startup and asked her for a quick chat. I also reached out to our investors for help - one of them connected me to a support ops expert through another founder. I had a great chat with both my friend and the support ops expert, and then got intro’d to another person who had set up customer support at another startup. So in a matter of few days, I was able to get a full download of best practices from 3 different folks who had successfully set up a customer support system that scaled with their startups. Not only did this significantly reduce the amount of time I had to spend on the project, but it also gave me the confidence that I was following a tried-and-true approach.
This is the first reason for why we need an ops community: someone else has probably already done what you’re trying to do, and they can help you learn quickly.
After this experience, I started carving time out of my schedule to connect 1-on-1 with more early stage ops people. I didn’t have specific problems to discuss every time, but I just wanted to have a chat with someone in a similar position and learn about what problems they were working on - and try to help them if I can. These conversations were almost always very helpful for the following reasons:
They helped me zoom out on the problems I was having, because I had to be able to explain them to someone who didn’t have full context. And oftentimes, by the end of the explanation, I’d be able to see the problem clearly and solve it myself.
They allowed me to help other people by either providing specific knowledge (in which case I got to reinforce my own learning, by teaching) or being a thought partner (in which case I gained a new perspective on a problem).
Most importantly, regardless of any tangible outcomes, they helped me feel connected and less alone as I was navigating through building a startup, an extremely ambiguous and lonely journey.
And this is the second reason: a community of folks on a similar journey as yourself can provide a sense of belonging and make the experience more enjoyable and rewarding.
So what’s next?
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be migrating the past content from this newsletter over to the Ops Hacks site. I’ll move the evergreen content like tutorials to a content section and continue to send out a newsletter as an update (either from Substack or another email provider with better integrations, let me know if you have any reco’s). I’ll also start laying the foundation for the public launch of the community.
Beyond that, I haven’t planned much else. I’m treating Ops Hacks like an MVP and iterating as I go. I’m going to try to create a tight feedback loop with all of you to determine which direction it should go, when to double down or course correct. And that’s why I’ll be…
…Building it all in public!
I’ll be building Ops Hacks in public and sharing my learnings as I go. I’ve never built a community before, so it will be an interesting ride to say the least. I’ll be making a ton of mistakes and sharing them with you 😅 And we can celebrate any small wins together 🎉
I’ll share high-level updates in this newsletter as well as my in-the-moment, think-out-loud updates on Twitter. One of the biggest advantages of building in public is getting feedback from others every step of the way - and I’m looking forward to getting all of you more involved in the process!
Expect some of the tutorials / lessons I share at Ops Hacks to be meta - they’ll be about building Ops Hacks. There are already tons of resources on the internet on the qualitative aspect of building communities and they’re much better quality than anything I could put out. So I’ll focus instead on the operational side of it - how to stitch together tools to build the site, automate processes, etc.
How you can help
1. Let me know what you think
One of the best things about starting this newsletter has been engaging in dialogue with you - thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and provide thoughtful responses via email / comment.
I’d love to get your thoughts on everything I've shared today. What are your thoughts on creating an ops community - good or 💩 idea? Would you join it? Any advice? Anything goes - let me know by commenting below or replying to this email!
2. Get involved
If you’d like to get involved by becoming a founding member of this community, hit reply and let me know. I’d love to connect with you.
3. Spread the word
Know anyone who’d be interested in any of the following?
Joining an ops community and meeting other like-minded people
Learning ops hacks, tools, and tips
Learning how to build an online community
Please share this newsletter and the Ops Hacks link with them!
I’m super excited to get to building 🏗. Hope to see all of you in the Ops Hacks community soon!