Story of NotionPlus

So how did I get to this point? How did the idea come about? How did I come up with the name?

NotionPlus is a product developed by a solopreneur with 3500 members and 10 paid members with an $100 MRR. I, Ugur KILCI, have extended the domain of NotionPlus.dev until 2027. I have a spiritual connection with this product. So how did I get to this point? How did the idea come about? How did I come up with the name? Let me explain it all in detail.

I have developed many projects: startups, games, programs, websites, products, social media accounts, and many more. When I counted them all in college, it was 600. Now it must be close to 700 or more. I don't count anymore. I learned that it's not the number that matters.

3 years ago I joined the Komunite.com.tr community, Acquire.com 's partner in Turkey. They added a lot of value to me. In the first hackathon there, I developed an API tool that worked with Notion in 2 days. I didn't win the hackathon, but they said the product was promising. Then I barely released the product as getAPIMaker.com. I struggled for months. It was hard because I listened to others all the time. They recommended AWS for the infrastructure and the learning process was difficult because I had never used it. I worked with an extra person for the landing page, but he was working to help. So it was not customer-sensitive. That's not bad, of course. I was not a priority and it was wasting time.

I had just met Notion and I was a beginner at everything. I hadn't dealt with API technology much and I was a beginner at that too. The product wasn't working properly (I can sell it if anyone wants to buy getAPIMaker.com in this non-functioning state. :)) Still when I made and published it, it got 500 upvotes on ProductHunt. I was able to get only 1 sale. Yes, 1 sale in 3 years. :) I didn't like the project very much because I couldn't do what I loved because I always listened to others.

Listening to others made me look like a beginner. Because I write PHP and use monolithic architecture. When I took advice from people who write JS and use microservices, nothing worked properly. For example, PHP works badly in Supabase. Even if you do it with PostgreSQL, it works with MySQLi, not PDO. So it's old technology and PHP is very slow. Because of the language and the architecture, I looked like a novice in people's eyes.

Later, a friend I met from Komunite offered me to be a co-founder because he had an idea and asked if we could start a venture together. I accepted. We made a Twitter marketing tool called CreateTargetAudience.com. Again, I was in a field I didn't know and so was he. But it was very instructive. I learned Twitter APIs. I'm still not a professional in X APIs... I don't aim to be a professional.

I learned DevOps throughout the process. I saw that I had too many rote behaviors. The biggest problem was trying to create a startup with an agency culture. When I did freelance work for agencies in Turkey, our only goal was to make the product work somehow and the rest was not important. So writing bad code and communication problems. I saw my co-founder friend as a customer, just because of the agency culture. My friend and co-founder but the way I work is a customer. So I wasn't taking initiative, I was just coding what he said. You foresee future problems but you don't fix them. That's a very bad behavior! I also knew the tool you were using minimally, so the agency culture prevented me from improving myself.

If you have a co-founder and you are going to do something in the startup culture, you have to take the startup!

I enrolled in 2nd university, but it was a paid university. I needed money and I was just starting to understand how to make money. Yes, I had no money. So I borrowed money from an entrepreneur I knew and I'm sure you will know him too. (I won't name him.) I said I would pay him back in 3 months. I accepted a big agency job, but it was too big! Too big! It was a job to make 7500 games for the Unicef and the Turkey Ministry of National Education (Milli E─čitim Bakanl─▒─č─▒) (MEB)! To make 7500 games for primary school and pre-primary school children, especially children with autism, under the supervision of pedagogues and autism teachers! I couldn't make the games, but I made the whole infrastructure full-stack by myself.

They told me the game would work on the web. So I worked on the web. Then in the middle of the project, they told me that these games would run without the internet. I was shocked. I was a web developer, how could I run it on a desktop? I still had to solve the problem. I invented a new technology. Even the Ministry of Education was shocked when they saw this size. While the companies they had worked with before had produced works of 10-20GB in size, with my technology they had produced works of 1GB in size.

At the same time, I was working on CreateTargetAudience.com as a co-founder. And I was working in the agency business. CTA (CreateTargetAudience) had reached $1000 MRR. But I was writing bad code and not focusing enough, not just on CTA. I was doing bad work at the agency too. And I absolutely needed money. I had to make a choice. Entrepreneurship or agency work? Both sides were my friends, and whoever I chose might upset the other. It was like ÔÇťDo you love your mom or do you love your dadÔÇŁ. I couldn't answer. We made the final point by meeting with my cofounder. I left the startup unanimously.

The agency work, which would have been completed in 3 months, took more than 7 months. I received my money very, very late and I shamed the person I borrowed money from because I couldn't keep my promise on time.

I mentioned that I've done a lot of initiatives, and because I've done a lot of initiatives, the probability was that it would end badly. Last year I got sued for the first time and I was terrified. The reason for the lawsuit was so funny and when I shared it on IndieHackers or Reddit they thought I was a scammer. Because it's ridiculous!

I had an initiative where I listed entrepreneurship series, movies, podcasts, books, documentaries, and YouTube channels to instill entrepreneurship in people. It went on for 3 years. Because I embedded a movie on YouTube about entrepreneurship (it was not an entrepreneurship movie, it was a comedy movie and I thought it was about entrepreneurship) on my website, they filed a copyright lawsuit against me as an unauthorized upload. I didn't own the channel and it was embeddable. They could have turned off the embed permission if they wanted to, but they didn't. The royalty was 10 thousand dollars! I was stunned when I heard that number, I was a very small entrepreneur and I had never made that much money in my life.

As a result, I won the case. I spent all the income I had earned until then on lawyers, etc. I also went into extra debt. The tragicomic thing is that I was sued because of people who didn't understand Embed, but I paid the lawyer fees with the money I earned from people who understood Embed. :) With NotionPlus. :) Like it's a joke. :)

The case was concluded in the last days of 2023. Then there was one more lawsuit process and we solved it with a contract. Unfortunately, I cannot give them names because it was a contract and I will not say that name for the rest of my life. In both cases, my only intention was to teach people entrepreneurship and software. I acted in good faith, but people abused good faith. I had my mistakes too. I had acted without asking people's permission. The fact that publicly available things and content that I had seen similar to them were there without any problems gave me the impression that everything was working smoothly. I was wrong. The most important thing I learned in the process was not to create cash flow. All this happened during my NotionPlus process.

In 2022 I was really tired and looking for a new project, having wasted a lot of time listening to other people's words. I was very interested in someone's exit story in a newsletter. He had made a Notion widget tool. When I looked at the widget I was surprised because when I made my first website I was in elementary school and I was searching the internet for things like ÔÇťclock codesÔÇŁ, and ÔÇťcool mouse code with HTMLÔÇŁ and I learned how to code by copying and pasting them. This widget was like that. Some things are ready and you go and use it. Again, there is the clock widget, so there is the Notion clock widget. :)

Nothing had changed, only my perspective had widened. I liked this situation. I was in a reset situation and the desire to do something from scratch in my elementary school years overwhelmed me. I saw a literary beauty. Starting from scratch twice :)

I wanted to buy the domain Notion.Plus. I couldn't. :) I thought about NotionPl.us, they told me not to split the word and I listened to them. Finally, I got NotionPlus.dev. ÔÇť.devÔÇŁ made no sense. However, later on, I liked the fact that it came from ÔÇťdeveloperÔÇŁ and reminded me of my roots.

Another thing is that when I installed NotionPlus I didn't know that Notion's paid package was "Plus". ':)

Yes! No kidding! I didn't know about the Notion Plus plan.':) I've always used Notion for free and I didn't have the income or the need to pay for it. 8$ may sound cheap to you, but I don't live where you live, this is Turkey and 1 Dollar is around Ôé║32 here right now. Everything is very expensive for us.

As I've already learned, Notion wants to close down products with the word ÔÇťNotionÔÇŁ in them. I saw it in a tweet. So I'll have to change the name of NotionPlus sooner or later.

Let's go back to our story. I had the product idea in mind, I was going to make a Notion widget tool. The name was NotionPlus because I wanted it to be +1 better. And I knew that first, you find a customer, then you make a product. I added 100 components, but Fatih Guner, the founder of Komunite.com.tr, told me that I should increase it to 500, and then it would be more valuable. So I listened to him and did it. He was right. It made me 600$ and I spent it all on lawyer fees. :D

This lasted for 1 year. After 1 year, I didn't make the product. After 1 year, I didn't make the product. I released the product I call NotionPlus Classic and while the sales continued, I started to make the actual NotionPlus, the widget tool.

This time it was going to be different! I was going to go with the technologies I knew. I bought a classic hosting, not AWS :) For the payment system, I didn't use APIs like Gumroad API, etc. I used LemonSqueezy. After all, I knew it because I used it in CTA. Instead of coding the API in LemonSqueezy, I found it easier to do it with Webhook.

I designed the logo in Figma. I downloaded Notion's logo as SVG and adjusted the horizontal and vertical lines in the logo to be +. I made the architecture a monolith. One of my main goals was to position it as a product that reflects my character.

What is my character?

I don't know if it's a character, maybe there's another name for it, but I'm not sure. Because I haven't learned it yet.

I said I've made 600 products. Yes! I'm a bored person. I can work on something for a month and then get bored immediately. When I see a little negativity or when I sense that the product that activates my spidey senses has no future, all my enthusiasm escapes and I can leave the product. Even though I can control these feelings now, I don't want to. So I have to design such a tool that I can develop whatever I want in it. For example, I saw a change log tool. It was very simple. I wanted to make such a tool. I didn't, instead, I added this idea to NotionPlus. This is how the Announcement widget became. :)

I like to innovate, there are many innovations in Notion widgets. For example, when I create multiple buttons in my competitors' existing button widgets, this does not turn into a horizontal menu. It turns into NotionPlus. Or in my competitors, you cannot make a vertical menu in the form of a sidebar, or turn the menu 90 degrees and make a new design, or add 1500 fonts. In NotionPlus you can do it all and more.

The BBCODE logic impressed me so much when I first learned to code, I am now using it in the NotionPlus text widget. I write NotionPlus as N+ for short. And N+ started to turn into a spiritual place for me. I could do anything I wanted in it and I didn't have to ask anyone, it was a great freedom. So I extended the domain of N+ until 2027.

I also started challenges as proof for those who think I am undisciplined and worry too much about what people say. First, I started sharing regular content on Twitter/X. Fatih Guner, the founder of Komunite.com.tr, even said that I was more disciplined last year. It was motivating. Then I got the 365 badge on ProductHunt. So I have been on ProductHunt for 365 days. Then I started daily vertical videos in Turkish, which I have been doing for more than 100 days. I will publish those videos every day for 2024. I will have proof that I am a disciplined person and that if I put my mind to something, I can show how I can achieve it. :) That's how crazy I am. :)

In the last days of 2023, I was going to start from scratch thinking that I had solved all the problems, but God had more to teach me! Today I am 26 years old and I feel like I am 80 years old because I was dealing with a disease that I thought I might die recently. I was living the highest level of all the problems that happened to me. I was between life and death. If you know the backend, you have to think about all the possibilities of the user. And I was thinking about all the possibilities of my life because of this professional deformation and I was very psychologically disturbed. You may have noticed this in my newsletter or in some of my tweets that were depressive.

As a result, I'm not dead. It looks like I'm not going to die. But I am in a mood as if I am dead :) I have thought about the bad possibilities so much that I can't even be happy about the good results. The process matured me a lot, wore me out a bit and I understood very, very well that I shouldn't depend on one income. I was reminded many times how important cash flow is and I understood it very well. I understood very well the need to think well and have good friends. I understood very well how important it is to be grateful.

N+ is my main product and will continue for many years. I will also develop spin-offs. I need to do this and I need to be involved in things that will touch more people. Those who are curious about my entrepreneurial journey can subscribe to my newsletter.

So that's the story. It's a bit of an unorthodox story. I should have told more about the success and I should have focused on the product. I didn't. :) I'm a bit of an outsider. I like that. :) I will write the next updates of N+ below and update the story accordingly.

I hope those who read this story will be healthy, peaceful, happy, and successful in their lives. See you in the new updates.

Thank you for being patient and reading this far.

I am U─čur KILCI.

No new updates!
4/26/2024

­ŁĽĆ @ugur2nd