Nick DeJesus talks to Joel Hooks about how he went from a gamer to a developer because of one side-project.
T7 Chicken was where it all began with Nick's journey into development. Nick had no development experience. Still, he wasn't satisfied with the websites and apps available for Tekken framerate data, so he took it upon himself to learn Android development to create his mobile app.
Nick had the support of the Tekken community and received programming help from people online. Projects like these are so crucial for rapidly growing as a developer, and you won't get the same experience at work. It's making something you need for your community. It's also a place where you are free to experiment with new technologies.
Most of us wouldn't be where we are today in our careers without the help of the online programming community. Nick gives back through his work as a mentor at the Resilient Coders bootcamp.
Resilient Coders is different from most bootcamps. They pay their students to learn to code! They are a non-profit and rely on donations from generous individuals and companies to operate. Paying their students allows them to be truly inclusive by providing an opportunity for people who don't have the privilege of being able to survive without some form of income.
"Why do you do it? With Nick DeJesus" Transcript
Joel Hooks: Hey Nick. So, there's a few things I'm interested in that you're working on. One of them is you've been digging at the Gatsby themes and you, you teach at program called Resilient Coders which is a boot camp that has a model that I feel like is unique and different and I'm really interested in getting into that. But first, I wanted to learn what a T7 Chicken is.
Nick DeJesus: So, T7 Chicken is pretty much where it all began for me as far as my journey into development. So I am a professional Tekken player which is a ... Tekken is a fighting game that's been around for a very long time. And so, I got pretty good at Tekken. I got really decent at it. I made it ... a name for myself years ago and one thing that was really frustrating about Tekken is that it's very hard to be good at that game or, at the time, the information to get better at the game was not very accessible.
Nick DeJesus: People were doing weird things like finding these obscure webpages, saving them on their ... they HTML files on their phones and what not and so, I was like, you know, that really sucks. I wish that there was a mobile app that would allow me to get this information. But I had absolutely no idea how to code at the time, so-
Joel Hooks: So, you weren't a programmer at all?
Nick DeJesus: I was not a programmer at all. I was just a gamer.
Joel Hooks: Yeah.
Nick DeJesus: And so, I did download this one app and I was not satisfied with it at all and I paid, like, three bucks for it. It's really hard to get Android users to pay for anything, okay? So-
Joel Hooks: Yeah.
Nick DeJesus: ... after paying that three bucks, I was, like, very disappointed and I was disappointed to the point where I was literally inspired to learn how to code and do it myself. And so, like, the rest is kind of history from there. I started looking into ... I originally wanted to be an Android developer and I was looking at all these forums and asking for help.
Nick DeJesus: I found this one guy who was ... I don't even know why he helped me so much, but, he was so nice and he as literally doing his best to teach me Java at the time and so what's when the app was actually called Tekken Chicken where I got a C&D for having the Tekken name-
Joel Hooks: Yeah, they didn't like that.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. And so that was out for Android only. That pissed off a lot of iOS users and so I said, you know what? Let me learn web development because that's more accessible. Everyone can have it and I won't have to worry about iOS versus Android or whatever and then Facebook announced React Native and so I felt like switching to web development was the best possible decision I've ever made and I was ... and since then, I've been able to ... I've launched it about ... I've launched it two times. There's T7 Chicken which is no longer available and now I'm at T7 Chicken Plus. I have over 30000 users-
Joel Hooks: Okay.
Nick DeJesus: ... right now.
Joel Hooks: So you're talking about Android users not wanting to pay for anything. Are you charging for this app or is it free or ... how's that work?
Nick DeJesus: So, it's been ... it's free with ads and eventually I'd like to set something up where you pay to remove ads. I get from ad revenue, which is insane, I would get like 500K impressions a month and that's, like, $30, $40.
Joel Hooks: Ads are kind of ridiculous, almost, with ... you know, you think like 500000 impressions, you're probably raking it in and I wonder, you know, like generally at economy, how sustainable it is and is that a model that you think going forward ... I mean, have you tried, you haven't tried anything else yet, right? So ads was your first approach to making money on this app?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. Yeah that was the first approach and the real angle I'm trying to go for is not ... I already knew that ads aren't a very sustainable thing unless you have millions of users and really disruptive ads so I wanted to have ads there to, kind of, annoy my users and then if they wanted to remove them, then they would pay to get them removed. But, a lot of people actually ... like, a lot of my users are very happy with the app and they want to support me financially, so that's sort of, like ... I kind of put a thing there to give them an incentive to pay.
Nick DeJesus: It's weird. I think even if I had, like, a sort of a give us money thing, I think I'd still actually get something from what I have right now.
Joel Hooks: I think you'd be surprised, honestly, if you added the kind of get out of jail card in there and let people just pay the $3. Because, then like, you know, the people that complain about free stuff, which I just suspect gaming communities ... you say pro gamers, but, you know, I don't know how many people are making a living wage off of playing Tekken. You'd probably know better than me, but-
Nick DeJesus: Not many. There's this one guy who's literally getting paid to live his life by Red Bull which is really nice, but, he's also, like, probably the best player in the whole world. Like, top five at least.
Joel Hooks: Yeah, yeah, I mean that's where you have to be, I would assume.
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: So what did you learn, like, as a developer and because you started out not a developer and you went through this and now you're teaching people to be web developers. But what, you know, like, before you started, before you did any of this, what ... was there any choice that you wish you hadn't made right from the start? Like, technology wise, I guess?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. So, there's so much that I could have definitely done a lot better. I think, for me, this is sort of a debate, right? Like, some people are ... a lot of developers say don't go straight into learning Reactor or learning whatever. Focus on the fundamentals, first, and so I did not take that fundamental route. The way ... and sort of my style for getting stuff done for the most part is if i need something, I figure out how to use it and then I get it done, and then I ship, right? And, it's brought me quite a lot of success, but if I did spend that time to get a lot more fundamental with just programming in generally and some computer science concepts and stuff.
Nick DeJesus: I think a lot of the work would have been ... wouldn't have felt as difficult as it did at the time. Like, I ... the first time I shipped this app with Reactive Native took me a whole ... almost like a whole year and I had volunteers helping me. I couldn't tell what was going on in their code and it was just a giant mess. I redid that and it took me about, maybe, two or three months just with, mostly, just my spare time after work or on the weekends.
Joel Hooks: So how long has this app existed, like, from start to finish? From idea to now?
Nick DeJesus: Oh man, it's so, so long ago. Honestly I think I made the first one on Android only during Tekken 6. That's like almost ... I think that's, like, almost 10-years ago.
Joel Hooks: Oh, wow. That's a journey, huh?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. Yeah. So the first time it launched, I had a ... up to 10000 users and then every iteration after has sort of been that community and then it kind of grows. I don't know where I'm at, now. I haven't checked in a while, but, you know, it's a community that I'm very active in. I'm actually going to a tournament in Thailand this week.
Joel Hooks: Okay, cool.
Nick DeJesus: So, that's helped a lot with, you know, being ... just having that community, that group, that, you know, is always going to be there to support me when I launch something Tekken related.
Joel Hooks: I think it's interesting because, to me, and some of the best advice I've ever had is if you're going to build something and you want to distribute it, you're building it for a group of people and often that works best if you belong to that group also, right? Like say you're building for a community that you also belong to ... and when we started egghead, that was kind of the idea. Like, we're developers so let's make a thing for developers. We weren't just trying to make something for some other audience that we don't have any relation to. It really helped. It helps to get your thing, get it in their hands because you can speak their language.
Nick DeJesus: Well, yeah. One of the best feelings ever is when I go to a tournament in any part of the world, and I look across the floor and I see everybody using T7 Chicken just before their matches. It's the greatest feeling. And it's reached the point where people don't even know that I made it, so come people meet me and stuff and then a week or two later, they find me on Facebook and they're like I had no idea you were the guy that made the app!
Joel Hooks: That's funny. Why are side projects important in general? Do you think they're important and, if so, then why would you say that?
Nick DeJesus: Oh, man. I think they are ridiculously important. For many ... like, there's a lot of different angles here so I'm going to start with personally, I do ... I just personally feel like you will always learn the most from a personal project. Almost more than what you would learn, of course, depending on your job and what company or whatever ... but I have not gotten more exposure to technology by having a nine to five coding job than I have with personal projects and so ... and, you know, like, when you are working on something at work, especially when you just got ... I think that's more important for people who just start in this industry where ... where you're managers aren't going to assign you big, heavy work. Like ... or, or tasks that will help you level up very quickly or get that promotion or whatever.
Nick DeJesus: Like, for example, I have never during a nine to five job had the pleasure of setting up a continuous integration for anything. Yet, I know how to do all that stuff because this is how I launched T7 Chicken using Microsoft App Center. So, there's ... and that's just a small example. There's so many things that you could be supplementing yourself with that you might not be getting from work that would help you at work or just even having ... even if you don't have a nine to five coding job and you want one, having a solid project is really good to reference for when companies are interviewing you.
Nick DeJesus: Another thing about personal projects is, and this is probably my favorite part, is that we all, as individuals, care about different things, right? like, I care a lot about Tekken and now that I, you know, I've acquired this ability to code, I am making products that help the Tekken community. A community that I care about and so, Tekken is whatever. It's like a video game, or something, but there are ... I know that people ... you might care more about an unrepresented community and for whatever reason there's not many people in that community that are coding or what would make these, the apps or the experiences that they would like to see, you know, and so here you are and you have this ability to contribute to that community and you could, like, I just genuinely think you could make the world a better place by focusing on something that you care about.
Joel Hooks: And, you know, I think it's interesting when you, when you're talking about coding a this power of expression, right? Like, you were able to build something and you're able to use your brain and your imagination to create something useful that doesn't exist, right? Like, T7 Chicken didn't exist. This was a resource that did not exist and now it does for your community and your people that you care about and enhances not only their lives, but enhances your lives, too.
Joel Hooks: I don't know if you've ever read, there's a book called Apprenticeship Patterns that I love and recommended to people but one of the chapters is called Breakable Toys and what they talk about in this book is a side project is your breakable toy, right? It doesn't matter what you do to it. If you break it, you know, like some people might be upset but it doesn't ... its yours and it's yours to break and yours to manipulate. Like, for me, like my blog or for a lot of people, their personal site or building an app or, you know, some sort of joke or game or whatever, you can build it and it's yours and you can break it and learn from it and add whatever you want to it and take whatever you want away and it's really, really a powerful, powerful lever when you're trying to learn.
Joel Hooks: And, you either break in or enhance your skills or just enjoy yourself, you know? Like do this and have fun doing it. I can kind of see what side of it versus when you're building somebody else's app. That's kind of a grind.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. And a lot of stuff that I learned on the job, like, I would actually picking up stories that were relative to T7 Chicken. Something, like, maybe ... for example, setting something up with a specific flow with Redux or something and I'm like, oh, I have Redux in my app and I need to accomplish the same thing with Redux, so, let me pick up that ticket, learn how to get it done at work. Get my code feedback and whatever, and then run back to my app and apply the same thing.
Joel Hooks: So, speaking of getting paid to learn how to code, I'm curious about Resilient Coders and what makes, you know, what is Resilient Coders and what makes it different from other boot camps? Because there's a lot of boot camps on the market these days. It's a big business. It's billions of dollars business every year teaching people to code. But what makes Resilient Coders different?
Nick DeJesus: Resilient Coders ... I think, so there's a lot of boot camps that are focusing on diversity and inclusion and I don't think that ... I believe that Resilient Coders has the absolutely best approach for that and I think the biggest thing is the fact that we pay our boot campers to learn how to code and we don't ask them to pay us back in money at all. We tell them to pay it back in sweat.
Nick DeJesus: So, once the, you know, one they graduate we want them to come back and help the next cohort and continue on with that as each cohort graduates and so, a big thing about the ... so that's like one thing that's different on paper. The part that's not on paper is sort of the focus on the individual.
Nick DeJesus: so, a lot of boot camps, they focus on the technology, right? So you go in, you jump in a boot camp and you're in there for like two or three months. You're getting exposed to all the cutting edge technology and all the skills. Everyone has the same exact personal projects or project done or whatever for demoing and what not and it's all skill focused.
Nick DeJesus: We're very people focused, right? And so, the secret sauce to Resilient Coders isn't so much that we're exposing them to the technology, but we are teaching them how to learn how to code. I mean, how to learn how to learn.
Joel Hooks: Yeah.
Nick DeJesus: So ... and so that's very important because, you know, getting into this technology field, technology's always adapting. Not everyone has a stack of Node and Reactor or whatever. We want to be able to open them up to any, any kind of work environment and technology that can get exposed to whatever and we'll trust that they'll be fine.
Nick DeJesus: And we're also having conversations with hiring partners about focusing more on hiring on potential rather than, what's the word? Pedigree.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. A certificate or-
Nick DeJesus: Yeah.
Joel Hooks: ... the ability to prove right now that you can do the thing. It's what can they do in a year from now-
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: ... and to me it's like that learning how to learn approach is really, like, that's the fundamentals.
Nick DeJesus: Yup.
Joel Hooks: We can talk about all the fundamentals of code and classes and object oriented and functional programming and all that stuff, but, if you're not committed to be, essentially, a lifelong learner, this is going to be a really hard career. I think for anybody.
Nick DeJesus: Right. Exactly and so ... and there's something to be said about boot camps that do accept money from the people they teach and, you know, not everybody ... so, in the program, we do ... it is possible for students to get removed from thee program and it's not because they can't become developers or anything. It's just because they need a little bit more time, right?
Nick DeJesus: And so, when ... when you have a program where you're taking money, you know, you kind of just already have the money. Like, you don't really have to care as much about somebody graduating or not, you know?
Joel Hooks: Yeah, and in a lot of cases, they can garnish your wages or come after you, you know, whether you graduate or not.
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: I know that's a case for someone, like ... the ones where they take a portion of your income after graduation. You know, if you're there two months and drop out, they're going to still, they're going to come after you and garnish your wages and what not.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. No, we don't do that. We-
Joel Hooks: Yeah, that's good.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah.
Joel Hooks: So, I mean, how is that sustainable, though? Like, paying people to code? I don't know, what even ... is there a business model in there or is it kind of like a public benefit company or a non-profit? How does that work?
Nick DeJesus: So, it's a non-profit and that is something that's sort of the ... what we've been trying to figure out for years, basically, right? So, it's all donations and for the most part, it's come from, like, generous individuals, generous companies. It's very, the pay is very meager. It's 500, it's a $500 stipend bi-weekly. It's ... you know, most of the time, it's just barely enough to make sure that they can afford rent or something or the basic needs, right?
Joel Hooks: Yeah.
Nick DeJesus: So, things have been picking up for us these days. We're getting the curriculum is much ... is getting solid. It's getting better and better with each cohort and so we're starting to see a lot more companies getting interested. Our biggest champion right now is Wayfair. They've taken over 20 of our boot campers this year.
Joel Hooks: Oh, that makes sense. Like a corporate relationship where you're, you're training people and then kind of curating people with the potential that would fit in at the company?
Nick DeJesus: Exactly and so Wayfair actually is ... so, I think last cohort, they reserved eight spots for our boot campers.
Joel Hooks: Okay.
Nick DeJesus: And so we're working on trying to get ... and so other companies are actually reserving spots from the graduating cohorts and so, like, as far as the whole money thing, eventually it looks like we might be able to start getting sort of referral bonuses. I don't think that's the word I want to use.
Nick DeJesus: But-
Joel Hooks: Almost like a recruiter, right?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, exactly.
Joel Hooks: Pricing people and you get paid, because they pay recruiters whatever percentage or thousand of dollars or whatever when somebody gets placed.
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: And that can be expensive, too. Like, I know that for sure.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. Its more or less a donation, like a ... it's not a legit payment thing that's set up, but, yes it's very expensive to hire. I think, on average, it costs like $30000 just to find somebody.
Joel Hooks: Yeah, and then, like you train them up and it's an investment-
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: ... from the employers side, too.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, exactly.
Joel Hooks: This is something ... I've been really passionate about this idea, this idea that we can pay people to learn how to code for quite a few years myself and it's something I experiment with at egghead and, you know, we don't have the money to do the scale I'd love to, but I think it's interesting to kind of flip that boot camp model on it's head. Instead of, you know, kind of being predatory even, in some circumstances, it's like doing the opposite. How do we lift people up and how do we give them a chance and how do we help them?
Joel Hooks: Because, like the financial part, especially for people that are switching careers, can be incredible difficult, right? Like, you're trying to work a job and learn a new skill and go to school and study and do all this stuff and still put food on the table. It's incredibly stressful and these are people that deserve it and need a chance and figuring out how to help them has been a challenge.
Joel Hooks: But it's a good challenge. It's like on the ... when you have a challenge and it's worthy, it's worthy of your time and effort to thin about and try to figure out how can we flip that whole model on it's head. With education in general, I think it applies ... it fits so well in software just because of the, the upside financial potential in software's pretty big.
Nick DeJesus: Right. And I ... and you can't really, you can't truly claim to be an inclusive boot camp if you're not thinking about, if you're not paying people of color to learn how to code. Like, there's ... you just can't. I don't know ... there's a lot more I could say about that, but it's kind of not possible.
Joel Hooks: So, what's your, what's your advice? What do you tell people when, you know, I assume people ask you how do get started? How do I learn how to code? What's your, kind of, top tips that you like to tell people when they're trying to break in into this field?
Nick DeJesus: So, I think the first thing I think about is, sort of, what ... what motivates them? That's always my first question because if there's anything-
Joel Hooks: Kind of why?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah! Exactly. I always ask why. I'm like what interest you in, about technology? Like why, why do you want to do this and that's really important because I don't think I would have been able to do it myself without the why and so, for me, the why was, you know, because Tekken's really hard to learn so now i need to learn how to code to make it easier.
Nick DeJesus: And so it's a really corny why. It's all around gaming and stuff, but that was my why. That's what kept me, that's what kept me going, right? And so I usually ... and I don't ... I also don't like imposing like what I know or what I've learned and suggesting that's the best thing.
Joel Hooks: Well, that's your path, right? That's not going to be ... your path isn't my path-
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: ... isn't somebody else's path. It's more like, you know, this is some stuff that worked for me. I don't know what might work for you.
Nick DeJesus: Right. So, I like to ask these kinds of questions and sometimes somebody would say, like, they're not interested ... I'd ask stuff like are you interested in mobile apps or website, in websites and they'd say no, I'm more into AI or something and I'd, I might suggest Python or something. But then I'll let them know, like, I can't really help you there because that's not my thing.
Nick DeJesus: But, for the most part, I always start off with the why. I cannot imagine ... and so, like, the boot campers are Resilient Coders all have veery important why's, right? Like, and it's still like family. Most of the stories there's like family or some kind of struggle they dealt with or the fear of losing jobs to automation and stuff like that. Every boot campers has a solid why and that's-
Joel Hooks: Its like the core, fundamentally, like getting paid? Is that a strong enough why?
Nick DeJesus: So, it could be. It could be. But, like, who doesn't want to get paid more, right? There's ... that's such an easy thing to say and, I mean, I feel like that is always part of it, too, so it's like, you know, I have this family. I need to change. I'm not learning. I'm not happy. I want to learn how to code. I want to increase my salary and I'm doing it for my family. Like, that's more powerful to me but I don't ... if ... it just ... you just have to feel it, you know? At the end of the day.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. I think, like, you can start that way and you know, honestly, that was why I got into doing this to begin with but after that, like, if you don't enjoy it, for one thing, it's going to be really hard to sustain and then, you know, you're working for more purpose after your bills are paid, right? Like then what's the why?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, exactly. And you might end up loving it after starting. You never know.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. I love it. Like, the puzzle aspect was a real fun treat for me way it turns out here. Just solving Rubik's Cubes all day. I've been tickled ever since.
Joel Hooks: So how do you approach, like, when you're going to learn something new, what's ... how do you start? What's your approach? Do you get the books? Do you, you know, search the internet? Watch videos? What do you do to learn and how do you get started when you're learning something new?
Nick DeJesus: So a big part of it for me is just jumping right in. Like, I think there's a lot of fear ... a lot of people have these fears of, you know, oh, I don't know how to do this thing or I'm not smart enough or ... what's the thing? I think I saw it in your newsletter. It was like analysis paralysis or something?
Joel Hooks: Yeah, where you just ... I mean, I'll do this. I'll, like I'll order all the best books, stack them up on my desk, and until I'm through and I studied and know the thing in depth, I'll kind of wait to start. Versus just, like, jumping in and making something. Like, to me, and that goes back to frameworks versus fundamentals, too-
Nick DeJesus: Right.
Joel Hooks: ... right? Like are you going to ... do you have to learn all the fundamentals or can you just pick up a framework and start building something?
Nick DeJesus: Right. So I don't do that at all. I'm very ... I'm like the opposite of that. I just jump right in and it's actually terrifying most of the time. I'm always making like these new wrenches for my sense of security and stuff like that but for the most part, once I get started, i get comfortable. I start seeing working examples that I made.
Nick DeJesus: There's a big difference between going online and looking at a working example from someone else versus making your own working example-
Joel Hooks: Yeah, like from scratch?
Nick DeJesus: ... and then-
Joel Hooks: Like where you're moving, you're moving the blocks around or else you're building it from scratch, kind of?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, exactly. And so, once I feel kind of ... I usually find my footing that way but the other part of it is community and so I'm always in, like, developer Discord channels or I've got somebody ... there's always like, a couple people I'll hit up who I know are familiar with the technology so ... and I always come to them when I'm, like, I've already got stuff done. I don't want to waste too much time, so I'm like, I got ... I'm trying to get from point A to B. I've done all of these things. I'm at this very point right now. Have you seen this? Do you know what to do? How could you help me, kind of thing.
Joel Hooks: I always look at it as almost like, it's almost like credit, right? Like you can go in there and if you come in with some basic question, you're going to use up your credit. Instead, you want to come in there and ask a really good question so when you ask, one, you're respecting peoples time. Two, you get a better answer and three, they don't, you know, they don't feel like they're being let me Google that for you.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, exactly. I try to make sure that I do my due diligence before I ask a question. I think that's super important when reaching out for help. I make sure when I'm stuck, I've done everything I possibly can. I've Googled stuff. I hit up Stack OverFlow. Reddit. Whatever. And if I'm truly stuck, when I ask these questions, I make sure I lay out everything I've done from start to finish just so that they're not wasting time. I try to think about it like, I try to predict the kind of questions people would ask me to help me troubleshoot and I try to answer them on the way.
Joel Hooks: That makes sense. So you just kind of go down the list. Like this, they're going to ask me this so I might as well look that up now and you can do it yourself up until you get truly stuck.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, yeah. Pretty much.
Joel Hooks: Then you can present it. Yeah. I was going to say, I'm curious what you're excited about right now? What are you working on? What are you learning right now as a developer?
Nick DeJesus: So, I am really excited about Gatsby. Like, I have been ... so, since I've started web development, if i have to be honest, I haven't really enjoyed web development that much. I've always preferred doing react native so that's where, like, what made me excited all the time. I ... it's weird to say this, but I literally now am having way more fun with Gatsby. For the past two or three months, I have been neglecting T7 Chicken just learning about Gatsby. Making themes and the development experience is really smooth and I can get a lot done.
Joel Hooks: I think it takes away ... and you combine it with Nullify or the other services where its just like one click and everything's going and you said, you know, you've done continuous integration and deployment in your other apps, but then, like, you don't have to really even think about it. You just push to get hub and then your thing works.
Joel Hooks: Like, and I feel like the same way. I'm having more fun now as a front end developer and I've been at this, like, 20-years and more fun now than I've ever had. And its because there's all these abstractions that solve the problems. And let me ... you still have to solve problems, but you kind of get to focus on a different layer of it which is really cool.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah and ... yeah, and I feel like the stuff that we're doing now with Gatsby is stuff that, you know, you would normally need a whole team for. I feel like a one-man team with Gatsby.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. Yeah, and especially ... so you're building a theme and that's ... you';ve been talking about that. What kind of themes have you been working on in general?
Nick DeJesus: So, what's got me going is I have a whole mono-repo focused on Stripe based themes. I thought it would be really cool to have the ability to pass your Stripe API keys to a Gatsby theme and that theme would spin up an entire storefront experience complete with a shopping cart and all of that.
Joel Hooks: Has it worked? Like, does that work? You can do that?
Nick DeJesus: Yeah! Yeah! I could ... I could spin up, like ... I could spin up an e-commerce store in like five or 10-minutes just from ... as long as the products are in the Stripe account and I get the Stripe API keys, and so there's much more than just the, the sku's and product, objects that I'm using there. I'm actually, for the past week, I've been working on doing something with subscriptions and so I made a theme that lays out a subscription sort of like a list of subscription products that you could buy on a monthly basis and then, after making that, I was like I wonder if I could, sort of, make a self-hosted Patreon and so, I just added like Firebase to it and now there's like authentication and I'm now, I'm now trying to figure out the piece where you hide content behind the pay wall and I'm like 90% there.
Joel Hooks: What was the motivation? Like, why did you ... is this just something to do something? Are you scratching your own itch or what's going on there?
Nick DeJesus: So, it started with T7 Chicken!
Joel Hooks: Oh, okay. Make sense.
Nick DeJesus: It's been really successful and I ... it's time for me to start monetizing this app and Tekken is doing great this year. Like, they're doing such great work with the fan service. We have Negan from the Walking Dead in the game. Not sure how that happened. But it's like, it's like doing really, really well and so ... it's been more work for me, as well. And so, I wanted to sort of set up a landing page and a storefront and I was looking at all these options.
Nick DeJesus: I was looking at Shopify and Squarespace. You know, as a developer, I kind of just want, want to do things on my own, you know? And so ... and then I thought about it. As I was working on it, I thought about how this is something that I might want to be able to do multiple times for different brands or whatever-
Joel Hooks: Yeah.
Nick DeJesus: ... and I ... I did a little bit of Googling and this is how I found out about Gatsby themes. So I figured, oh, okay, I will just make this storefront experience with Stripe using a Gatsby theme and then I can use that over and over and over. But I did not expect ... I actually totally underestimated how much work it takes to make an e-commerce store with shopping cart and everything.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. Yeah, I agree with that. We have one and we, we just worked the Gatsby store so they have their store and it's a, you know, it's a Shopify-fronted thing. And, honestly, I'm a little jealous because I love Stripe and I love Stripe Checkout. I think it's a really, really cool product and they're, they're capabilities are pretty neat and you marry that to Gatsby and you really have something, something cool.
Joel Hooks: I know, you know, it's like ... you talk about Patreon and I wonder what subset of that audience is technically, because its ... Gatsby's ... Gatsby's nontrivial, I would say, on a ... from a technical standpoint in terms of implementation so, have you thought about that? Like, who is this targeting? Is this for developers? I would assume so.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah, so this is definitely targeting developers. The way I see it is if ... so, first of all, there's a lot of ... like you said, there's a lot of incentive for people to go from Patreon to their own self-hosted site, right? Technology wise and speed and SEO customization and all that stuff. The SEO piece is actually, I think, really big, too, because ... so, like, there are celebrities that have Patreon accounts but you'll never find them because it's not searchable. It's all under Patreon's SEO, you know what I'm saying?
Joel Hooks: Yeah, it's kind of like Teachable is, maybe, a little bit similar to me because it's ... they're not, they're not necessarily a directory. They're just a service and then it's kind of on you-
Nick DeJesus: Right. So, yeah. This is definitely for developers and I would, and I kind of ... I've kind of been thinking about, like, this idea of having all these Stripe-based themes and developers would be able ... I plan on consulting and freelancing and stuff with stuff. It would be really cool if other developers were doing the same thing with the foundation that I laid out. So that's been ... that's been something really cool to think about and I think, like, I've been coding for all these years and stuff and I have yet to, sort of, make like a contribution to a developer community and I think this is it for me.
Joel Hooks: Yeah. That's good. I like that a lot. I really appreciate the work that you're doing. I was wondering, how ... if people do ... does Resilient Coders take donations? Is that something that people can participate in?
Nick DeJesus: Yes. They do take donations and, actually, I have ... I'm working on a non-profit theme with Stripe.
Joel Hooks: Okay, cool.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah!
Joel Hooks: That's awesome.
Nick DeJesus: So, so I can't wait to drop this one. I'm taking the design and experience from Charity Waters donation page but it's basically the same thing where you can make one-time payments or a monthly subscriptions.
Joel Hooks: That's great.
Nick DeJesus: Yeah. But, right now, if you do to resilientcoders.org there is a place where you can donate and right now, we have it set up though, like PayPal or something.
Joel Hooks: Yeah, we'll drop a link in the show notes so if people want to check that out, I highly encourage you to do so because I think Resilient Coders, you guys are doing a really great work and I want to see that, and see more of it. I really appreciate it, Nick. Thanks for hanging out with me this evening and I'll talk to you soon.
Nick DeJesus: Thank you so much.