Making a Racket, in 9 minutes or less
And then, there was another.
I joined Austin Petersmith and Mohammad Forouzani in mid-2019 to build a software community, somewhere where everyone could get their business software questions answered much like how developers get their code questions answered on StackOverflow. It grew, fast at times, slower at others, into a just-over-$1m acquisition by Vendr in early 2021.
Audio was the next thing. We'd considered building an online conference for Capiche in mid-2020, and those ideas morphed into launching Capiche FM as a pivot into live audio, first recorded over phone calls, later through a web app. It, too, had a core group of fans but hadn't quite caught fire, so over early 2021 we took some of the best ideas from Capiche FM and turned them into Racket. In its first version, Racket was aimed at shorter audio—9 minutes of audio recorded solo or with guests, then published as an almost audio take on Twitter or TikTok.
And it turned out shorter podcasts were what I'd wished podcasts had been all along. I've always struggled to find time to listen to hour+ long podcasts, but 9 minutes gave enough time for a meaningful conversation that anyone could find time to listen to. And it led to some great conversations I'll always be glad I had, from chats with authors including Elnathan John, Adam Davidson, Joshua Levy, Jason Crawford, and more, to talks with tech founders from Convertkit's Nathan Berry to Gumroad's Sahil Lavingia. I chatted with hundreds of creators in Racket DMs, and learned so much from community leaders including Rosie Sherry and others from the software testing community that embraced Racket early on. Perhaps the most fun was when Andrew Warner interviewed me on Racket about Racket.
After 3 apps in 3 years—a software community, then live audio shows, then short-form audio—it was finally time to give my own app idea a shot, something I'd wanted to do after gaining experience from being on the ground-zero of building Capiche. And today the rest of the Racket team is pushing ahead with an even shorter take on audio with Racket mobile and a 99 second time limit.
But some of those 9 minute chats were worth keeping around—and so, along with my Capiche FM recordings, here are some of my favorite Rackets from 2021:
- I attacked Racket’s founding editor, where legendary podcaster Andrew Warner dug in with hard questions about the ideas behind Racket and short-form podcasts, in one of the conversations I enjoyed most on Racket.
- The Minimalist Entrepreneur: An author chat with Sahil Lavingia
- The personal connection of spoken news, via Zetland’s Hakon Mosbech
- The PodSwap Story: Emma and Emily on how to replace Airpod batteries
- Speeds, Feeds, and the iPhone 13
- How to make a great Racket, an audio version of a blog post about Racket pulled from tips we learned in recording short audio, and those shared by some of the most prolific Racket creators.
- On capturing a moment in time: What I love about photography
- Radio was the original overhyped technology, an audio take on an original blog post digging into the history behind radio.
- The power of random interactions: A chat with Donut founder Dan Manian
- The Windows 96 Story, another audio take on a Racket blog post, this time digging into a web app that nearly entirely recreates Windows of the '90's in your browser.
- "You're just putting your words down." The WriteFreely story.
- From Books to Newsletters with ConvertKit founder Nathan Barry
- "Success is not a linear function." Kishore on showing up every day.
- “2 or 3 people with something in common”: Rosie Sherry on Communities
- Don't tell us what you're going to tell us., as another audio take on a blog post on how to make a great speech, this time with storytelling tips learned from Racket, Capiche FM, and the experts at TED.
- To say a single thing, an audio take on a blog post about focus and the power of editing.
- The Software Inflation Rate in 2021, based on a final Capiche blog post that continued our 3-year tradition of tracing how much average business software went up in price (where software, mercifully, went up only 1.4% in 2021)
- Common interests, common goals: Richard Bradshaw on building community
- Everything is a Remix: A creator chat with Kirby Ferguson
- When history rhymes: A Chat with Ada Palmer about history and Sci-Fi
- The human story of spaceflight: An author chat with Nicholas Schmidle
- Why local news matters: A chat with Overstory Media CEO Farhan Mohamed
- On Life Profitability: An Author Chat with Adii Pienaar
- On designing time: An Author Chat with Ruud Janssen and Roel Frissen
- Local Journalism and Substacks: An Author Chat with William Johnson
- Representation matters: An Author Chat with Qasim Rashid
- From Tech to Thrillers : An Author Chat with Matt Gemmell
- But first, a story: An Author Chat with Lyn Graft
- The Holloway Story: An Author Chat with Joshua Levy
- The Passion Economy: An Author Chat with Adam Davidson
- Writing is Designing: Author Chat with Andy Welfle and Michael Metts
- The Brave Care story with Darius 'Bubs' Monsef
- The Story of Industrial Civilization: Author Chat with Jason Crawford
- On subscriptions, Substack, & Medium: An Author Talk with Owen Williams
- On fiction and satire: An Author Talk with Elnathan John, as the first Author Talk I held with an incredible author on Racket that always held a place in my heart as what I loved about Racket's 9 minute discussions.
- A series of Rackets with my friend Nathan Snelgrove after a 2021 Apple Event, where we talked about AirTags, Apple TV, software on the iPad, colorful iMacs, and in a shift away from Apple, the Canon R3. Couldn't fit all of that into 9 minutes.
- On building a 2-sided marketplace, with the EllisX team
- There is no best thing.
- How TED Talks became 18 minutes long, as the original Racket story around the original short-form audio.
The next big thing.
And then, there's the new startup I'm working on now—something that goes back to my roots in writing for the web. Sign up below to be among the first to know when the beta's live!
Thoughts? @reply me on Twitter.