Spencer Jones: Chiming in on Social Posts

Issue 16

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It’s Thursday, August 19, 2021, and this week’s founder is Spencer Jones.

Spencer’s Story

Have you heard of the Septuagint? It’s the earliest Greek translation of the Biblical Old Testament from the original Hebrew, translated in the era that beheld the Egyptian empire in its glory and Alexander the Great’s conquests. As the oldest complete translation, it’s the best “source of truth” for translations, as earlier versions that have been found are incomplete.

Spencer knows more than you do about it. His academic career was Biblical Studies in undergrad, then he focused on Septuagint studies during his Masters. Unfortunately, there are perhaps a dozen jobs each year available globally for scholars in Biblical Studies. Every successful candidate is incredibly intelligent and hard-working, and Spencer felt that his desire to have children with his wife would make his Ph.D. and postdoc work very stressful (and vice versa!).

So Spencer took time away from that realm. He had to find work though, so he set out to learn something new. 

Spencer taught himself to code in PHP and Javascript and how to operate WordPress over the course of 9 months, then took a job at an agency as an intern utilizing these skills. Two months later, Spencer had earned a full time role.

11 months into this role, Spencer realized that working for an agency, tracking time meticulously, and building products which other people owned wasn’t for him.

He jumped from that into an enterprise software company, where they built Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) software. Logic around people management, billing, and client needs absorbed his time. 

18 months later, Spencer took a new job working on front end development using JavaScript. He went from small agency teams to working with 200 other people working to build a single software.

During this time, Spencer started to learn Node and Docker, he contributed to Open Source projects, and he tried to build his first project, which failed quickly. Spencer learned a ton during his first attempt at a product.

Spencer moved jobs again, this time to work in data privacy. While he was there, he started building another product, this time around grocery planning. This one has lasted longer, but will soon shut down. Spencer didn’t talk to potential customers and wound up creating a product that worked very well for him, but didn’t solve a problem for a larger market.

Spencer feels that he wasted 18 months building his product. He was afraid to talk to people about it, but now his bigger fear is wasting time building something that nobody wants.

Chime Social

Spencer wanted to build something for software developers. He didn’t have a great idea waiting, but went ahead and started to build anyway. He created a framework for TypeScript, a programming language which is built on JavaScript.

From there, Spencer built the first version of Chime Social. He called it Squearl (mashing up “que” and “squirrel”). It was meant to help developers on Twitter share their code snippets in a better way. Rather than being forced to screenshot and share a simple picture, Squearl would allow Twitter users to both view the code in Twitter and then go access the code by clicking on a link.

About a month into building, Spencer had his first version. He shared it with Dustin McCaffree on Twitter, who became his first customer in January 2021. 

A few months later, Spencer realized that a scheduling tool just for developers was a bad idea. The solution didn’t solve a big enough problem and the number of potential users was too low.

Along the way though, Spencer had developed a method to determine the best time to post. He got a lot of interest on Twitter and added into Squearl, gaining 5 customers just for that one add.

Spencer realized that the scheduling side had the best chance of growth, so he reconfigured the product to work around that. Dustin was influential in renaming the product to Chime Social.

By April, Spencer had begun to grow rapidly, and in June hit a Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) of $550. 

Since then, he’s had a decent amount of churn and has dropped closer to $400 per month, but with a solid customer base, he knows that the next step is to continue to improve Chime so that more people find it useful after a few months of use.

Soon those record-MRR bells will be ringing again.

Spencer’s Advice

  • Skills take a long time to learn, and are useful in so many different ways. Treat the next idea as a stepping stone. You’ve made it here, then where is the next option? Evaluate and then move forward. Keep moving forward.

  • A “10 year overnight success” is built by people who have learned skills which stack on top of each other. Stack skills that complement each other.

You can connect with Spencer on Twitter as @jones_spencera.

Word from Will

I met Spencer on Twitter a few months ago while writing a thread evaluating the top tools for Twitter analytics. While Chime isn’t great at analysis, it does give an inexpensive look at when the best times to post are. 

I personally use Chime and have found it a lot more user friendly than the native scheduling options in Twitter. Seeing a calendar of scheduled tweets and being able to go in and view drafts that I’ve saved over time makes it a lot easier to successfully post every day.

Spencer continues to add to the functionality and is building a tool that Twitter novices and experts alike will enjoy using. I highly encourage you to go check it out!

Build on.

Will