To build in public… or not to build in public?

April 9, 2024

Ever had that heart-pounding moment when you’re about to share something big with the world? Yeah, that’s the daily bread for anyone building in public. But is it always the smart move?

‘To reveal or not to reveal,’ that’s the conundrum I’m tackling today. 

In the realm of software development, this debate is kind of a big deal. You’ve got two camps: 

  1. the ‘open book’ brigade who build their projects under the public eye, and t
  2. he ‘cloak and dagger’ crew who keep their cards close to their chest until the grand reveal. 

I’ve been on both sides of this fence, and let me tell you, it’s a wild ride either way.

Choosing to build in public is like throwing a house party and inviting the whole neighborhood – you get instant feedback on your music playlist and snack selection. 

This gratification is great because it keeps you from spending ages perfecting a salsa dip no one likes. That said, it also means the folks next door might throw a shinier, louder bash using your carefully curated playlist, stealing your party animals.

On the flip side, building in private is like planning a surprise birthday party. You’re banking on the hope that the guest of honor loves the theme and doesn’t wish they were elsewhere. 

The upside? No copycat parties stealing your thunder. The downside? You might just find out they’re allergic to the cake you’ve spent months baking.

Me? I’ve shifted gears to building in private. 

I’ve had my share of poachers, competitors masquerading as clients who’d pluck our features and sprint ahead with bigger budgets. 

Lesson learned? 

My ideas are precious, and so is the time and money my team and I pour into them. We’re not just crafting code; we’re building dreams, supporting families. 

And that’s worth safeguarding.

But hey, I’m not completely shut off. I’ve fine-tuned my process – I build in private, but I keep a circle of beta testers and advisors looped in. That way, we’re not shooting in the dark; we’re getting spotlights shone on our work, without broadcasting it on the evening news.

I’m curious, though, about your take on this…

Are you a die-hard public builder or a secret strategist? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between?

Gideon Shalwick


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