I fully subscribe to the principle of “learn by doing”.
For the past 7 or 8 years I have experimented with and developed a number of side projects which have provided me with invaluable learning experiences.
Some have generated revenue, some not. Each side project grows more revenue than the previous one, so I am headed in the right direction.
Some of my favourites are:
Other People’s Rstats – My current project. A Youtube channel documenting interesting things I find related to R programming.
www.datatrainer.net – Free curriculum to equip professionals for a data-centric world.
www.stepsheetcourse.com – An online resource for building apps with the AppSheet platform. The tutorial is still good and I receive a couple of sign-ups per week to the newsletter. I abandoned this project after changes to the platform policies made me wary of investing more time to providing training content, but I may pick this up again in future.
www.recyclenet.co.za – I relaunched this as an online resource for South African Recyclers, and it included a Classifieds section.
You can view the first launch (when it was an app) here. This is arguably one of my best projects. A business-to-business trading platform for recyclers. The first of its kind in the world. Although not currently active, during two launches the platform saw a combined material value of approximately R9m ($640k) of recyclable material listed in just over 2 months of activity. At its peak it had 40 businesses using it concurrently, with a total of 100 businesses trying it out over the launch period.
www.guybox.co.za – A short experiment into the world of e-commerce. This service ships men’s toiletries, underwear etc. directly to your door. It was inspired after I saw www.manpacks.com during a December holiday. I developed the website, sourced products, launched and sold a few packs within the space of a 6 weeks or so. The site has been handed over to new owner.
Other experiments (websites no longer available)
www.politweets.co.za – A project which utilised Twitter feeds in a unique way to help visitors gain a greater awareness and understanding of the South African political landscape. This is the first time I had seen Twitter feeds used in this way and I am claiming it as a world first.
ZooZoo – An app for salesmen of a national tractor distributor to keep tabs on current Head Office stock of new tractors and farming implements, as well as a trading system for second hand equipment. Sales process automation and tracking included.
BetterTaxi – my first experiment with a web-app. The service was a rating system for South African minibus taxi commuters. For an archived view, please click here . Note the app won’t work when you try enter registration numbers.
Live The News – An email-based subscription service which sent email news alerts based on historic and fictional events to your inbox, matching the timeline of the actual events. A unique and interesting way to experience the events of the time. For an archived, slightly broken version of the site, please click here.
Green Building Design Blog – A collection of articles providing insight into green building design techniques. For an archived view of the site, please click here.