Making a tech product in the EHS niche #justbuildit
For those interested in creating new tech within the EHS field, the purpose of this article is to show that it’s easier than you may think to execute on your ideas. My name is David Jaenike and I built Neon Jacket, the blogging platform for safety professionals. This is my journey, and the story of how Neon Jacket was launched. I want to preface this by saying that I do not consider myself a tech savvy person. I still have to google how to format word and excel documents, I have no clue what the hardware specs on my computer mean, and I consider getting my printer hooked up to our home WiFi an accomplishment. Despite all this, I’ve been able to create two media platforms within the EHS realm. How? Time and patience. I studied Environmental Science in college and graduated in 2013 from the University of Rochester. In addition to loving the EHS field I saw a lot of opportunity to create new things in the space. I found that my life at home was so much more automated than my life at work, meaning the EHS field had (and still has) some catching up to do with respect to mainstream tech trends. Two years ago I made the decision to buckle down and work towards my goal of becoming a creator and builder in the space. At that point I had no idea how to code.
Learning to code
The key to learning to code (or learning any new skill) is just giving yourself the time and not giving up. You will get confused, you will get frustrated, and you will feel stupid. Do not give up! Everyone encounters these feelings. Once I learned these fundamentals, creating a platform became the easy part. I learned the true challenge is executing on your idea, and getting people to actually use your platform. I found this out first hand when I launched Safety Knights (safetyknights.com), the online community I made for health and safety professionals. Safety Knights was launched in March of 2020, and it took about 6 months before I saw consistent engagement from the user base. I grew Safety Knights primarily through direct messaging people on LinkedIn, which was extremely time consuming but effective. With Neon Jacket I tried something else, a relatively new concept called building in public. The idea is to source community feedback while the platform is being built. I did through a series of social media posts/polls categorizing each post with the hashtag #justbuildit. Of course, this article is being written on launch day, so whether or not this strategy worked is presently unknown. Regardless of its success level, the platform is functional, and was built with relative ease.
How I built this platform
Take it with a grain of salt
There are tons of ways to build and launch tech platforms, and I am far from an expert. The purpose of this article is to share my experiences and journey so far with the hopes that it may inspire others to do the same.
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