Product Ideas Newsletter #12

favorite problems, newsletter spy, and pay-to-win outreach

🚀Product of the Week

Newsletter Spy. I just launched a new project called Newsletter Spy. It’s a database of 20,000+ Substack newsletters and includes information like the number of subscribers, the launch date, the date of the last post, the language of the newsletter, and engagement metrics.

The database is useful, for example, if you're looking for newsletters in your niche with lots of subscribers, you can then reach out to ask about available ad slots. But you can also use it to analyze competitors or simply to find interesting newsletters to subscribe to.

Another interesting use case is that the database allows you to find newsletters that haven’t published anything, say, in the last three months and thus possibly can be acquired cheaply.

📈 Opportunity of the Week

Pay-to-win Outreach. A few days ago I watched a brilliant Cold Email Lecture by Sam Parr.

One thing he points out is that right now is an incredible time. You can reach any person - the biggest superstars, the wealthiest CEOs, the smartest thinkers - even if you’re a nobody.

And often, all it takes is a short email. This was unthinkable in the past and, Sam argues, probably will again be impossible in the future. But right now, it’s possible and you’re missing out if you’re not using it to your advantage. So I got really motivated to learn more about cold outreach and to dedicate more time to it.

But while doing cold outreach is certainly an amazing opportunity, this is really not what I want to talk. (If you're interested, I published the notes I took on Sam's lecture here. )

Instead, I want to focus on the question why in the future it'll again become impossible (or at least much harder) to reach important people. Right now it's working because only a few people are doing it. But once too many people realize how powerful cold outreach can be, the channels will be closed again.

Let's look at three glimpses of the future:

These observations paint a rough picture of where we're heading.

  • Important people will become more sheltered again

  • It'll become a pay-to-win game.

Whoever builds the infrastructure for this future, will become rich.

A great starting point could be, for example, a Gmail extension that mimics Hey's feature and then experiment with different ways to handle emails from strangers. A first experiment in that direction is Mailman but I don't think the winning solution has been found yet.

An alternative could be an (outsourced? productized?) service that handles emails from strangers for you. Or look at how people who "live in the future" (like Nat Eliason, for example) currently handle email and then think about how their strategies and tools could be made more widely available.

Now maybe you're still not entirely convinced. So let's talk about two further observations.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not arguing that David's course or Nat's community are otherwise useless. But I think that the paid-access-to-influencers aspect plays an important role. And at the very least it's an interesting lens to look at these products.

💭 Thought of the Week

“Decide what you want to do. Then decide to do it. Then do it.” - William Zinsser

🤔 Prompt of the Week

Favorite Problems. Richard Feynman famously observed:

"You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!”

So ask yourself, what are your favorite problems? If you need inspiration, look at this list.

👋 End Notes

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