⚡ Notion API, Solidity, and Spaced Repetition as a Service 🤔
6 min read

⚡ Notion API, Solidity, and Spaced Repetition as a Service 🤔

⚡ Notion API

The Signal:

Background: Notion just announced that their API is now in public beta. This means that everyone can now build applications and custom workflows on top of Notion.

Some businesses like Super.so ("turn your Notion pages into fast, functional websites", $26K in revenue in the last 30 days) and Potion.so (a direct Super.so competitor, $2k MRR) got a head start by using a hacky unofficial API. But now with a fully-fledged API available to anyone a whole new world opens up.

One great early example is Float.so which allows users to "turn your docs in Notion into a fully operational online course."

Opportunities: What product would benefit from having Notion as its backend?

For example, what if you could manage a newsletter business directly from Notion? An easy way to start would be to build a simple tools that allows users to create a landing page plus an online archive of past newsletters using Notion. The next step would then be an integration with a service like Mailgun so that users can write and send emails directly from Notion. And lastly you'd have to figure out payments (e.g. using the Gumroad or Stripe API) to allow for paid newsletters on the platform.

As someone who's used all popular newsletter tools (ConverKit, MailerLite, EmailOctopus. MailChimp, Substack, Ghost, ...) I'd immediately become your first customer. Most of them have a horrible user interface and clunky editors which is coincidentally where Notion really shines.

Another interesting idea shared by my friend Travis Fischer is a DocSend competitor powered by the new Notion API. He notes:

"Notion pitch decks are a huge trend, but right now I have no way of tracking who's viewing my deck (as they tend to get shared amongst the investor crowd). Like for my current startup, I don't even have a pitch deck (what I'd traditionally use DocSend for). I just use Notion, but I'd love the DocSend-type features of tracking + analytics + optional password / email protection for my Notion pitch".

Solidity

The Signal:

Background: Blockchain project continue to dominate the Subreddit and GitHub charts and one term that's almost always right at the top is Solidity. Solidity is a high-level programming language used for writing smart contracts.

The pattern above is a picture-perfect example of what a typical hype cycle looks like. The first hype is over and now the phase where all the real value is created has begun.

But it's still so early that there are plenty of challenges for early adopters. For example, just last week Nat Eliason shared the story how he lost $30k by accidentally publishing his MetaMask seed phrase on GitHub.

Opportunities: There are lots of people with GitHub scrapers looking for newbie devs to make a mistake. That's the lesson Nat paid $30k for, and he's certainly not the only one who fell into that trap.  

So what would be an incredibly useful service is a scraper that monitors your repositories and immediately sets them to private when it detects something that shouldn't be public. (It's possible to change the visibility of a repository using the GitHub API.). The advantage this service would have is that it focuses specifically on your repositories and hence actually has a chance to beat the bad guys.

This service would pair well with a donation-based business model. Charging a monthly fee would be a tough sell since users only learn the value of the service when it's already too late. But when the service is free and they then get the alert that the service successfully prevented a major mistake, I'd bet they'd be happy to donate.

Another way to take advantage of the rise of smart contracts is to actually learn how to code them using Solidity. Here's what I would do if I wanted to enter the space.

I'd start by learning in public (probably starting with Crypto Zombies and Zastrin), build and launch little projects, sharing each week everything I learned in a free Substack newsletter. To grow my audience, I'd crosspost my newsletters in Subreddits like /r/ethdev and the Solidity forum.

Then eventually I'd start working on a paid course, again documenting every step in public. After all, the best way to learn is by teaching. And there's also real demand since the most popular Solidity course on Udemy is "very very outdated" according to many of the most recent reviews.

I have zero doubt that if I'd follow the learning in public playbook for a few months, several incredible opportunities would open up.

Spaced Repetition as a Service

The Signal:

Background: It often takes long before scientific insights get adopted by practitioners. This is painfully obvious if we look at how schools operate, completely ignoring what we know about how to learn effectively.

For example, it's been known for decades that spaced repetition works. Spaced repetition is a learning technique based on the idea that if a person is exposed to something repeatedly and at intervals of a greater length than the length of time it takes to forget it, then the items will eventually enter long-term memory.

The results of spaced-repetition learning are far superior to the typical cramming method. However, the typical student, and the typical teacher, use the latter. Most schools still teach as if it did not work, simply throwing information at students and hoping that something sticks.

But nowadays, many jobs require lifelong learning and since in the real world results matter, people are looking at newer and better ways to learn. And as the chart above clearly demonstrates, they are looking at spaced-repetition learning.

Spaced repetition is neither sexy nor particularly new. Anki (the most popular spaced repetition app) has been around since 2006. Nevertheless the time is now perfect for startups in the space since finally, a sufficiently large number of people are starting to realize its benefits.

In case you need further evidence, just look at the growth curve of Remnote, a note-taking tool with spaced repetition built-in.

Opportunity: Since there's certainly no shortage of B2C spaced repetition apps, I'd be looking at B2B products.

One great example for what this could look like is Orbit. Orbit is an open source project by Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen, who have been preaching the spaced repetition gospel for years now. Their online textbook on quantum computing with embedded spaced repetition prompts went viral not too long ago.

Now with Orbit anyone can embed similar spaced repetition prompts on their website.

But as discussed in last week's trend brainstorm, enterprise customers are usually not too fond of open source project that require manual maintenance and come with zero support. So a premium service similar to Orbit seems like a great opportunity. Kind of what Disqus did for comments but for spaced repetition.

Potential customers include book publishers and independent authors who want to transform their books into truly effective learning media and also course platforms. Currently, new online course platforms like Maven, Float, and Slip are popping up everywhere and integrated spaced repetition could be an interesting unique selling point for them.

Another interested angle could be letting spaced repetition practice be the proof-of-work for relevant knowledge. Anyone can fake understanding by parroting stuff you read the night before. But spaced repetition requires months of dedicated work and is thus much harder to fake.

For example, let's say a company is looking for a growth marketer. Of course, a portfolio of real world results will always be the best metric. But when it comes to formal certificates I can't imagine anything better than one that confirms "this applicant internalized Julian Shapiro's Growth Handbook through spaced repetition practice".

In a sense, such a company could offer for jobs like growth marketing what Coderbyte is offering for programming. (Coderbyte for X is an idea I discussed with Andrew Kim on the podcast).

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