Behind the Make: Routeshuffle

March 7, 2018

As an avid runner I’ve always been on the lookout for anything that can make running more enjoyable and came across Routeshuffle while browsing Product Hunt last month.

Maker Riley Walz was running into a problem most runners run into (no pun intended), finding new running routes. After using Google Maps on a daily basis to come up with routes, Riley realized there had to be a better way and he made Routeshuffle.


In 100 words or less, what exactly is Routeshuffle?

Routeshuffle is a webapp for generating random routes for running, walking or cycling. All you have to do is enter your starting location and the number of miles/kilometers you want your route to be, and one is made!

How did you come up with the idea for Routeshuffle?

For pre-season training on my running team in the summer, we have to run at least 200 miles. Every runner will tell you that they would rather run a new, unique route than the same, old one all of the time. Before my run each day, I’d spend at least 15 minutes scrolling around Google Maps trying to find a new road or trail to run on. This was tedious and just took too much time, those were 15 minutes I’d rather be running and getting faster. Enter Routeshuffle.

How long did it take you to go from the idea to actually building your first version?

It only took a few weeks to go from idea to the front-end route generator. This didn’t include the user account section for premium subscribers, though.

How did you go about building the first version of Routeshuffle?

I already was proficient in HTML and CSS, but learning JS was an uphill battle. I wouldn’t even call myself a JS developer now, most of the time I just Googled how to do stuff and copy and pasted it. In this way I feel that everyone can be a programmer and build something like this.

Did you run into any challenges along the way in building Routeshuffle?

Almost everyday! The most notable one: when I had built the entire site with Google Maps, but then realized that the API was way too expensive and I’d rather use Mapbox. It took a few days just to switch everything over.

How did your launch day go?

Great! There were some hiccups though. I stayed up until midnight the night before, making sure everything was set. I thought I was screwed with my domain’s DNS settings, because I had the site running at beta.routeshuffle.com but was trying to switch to just routeshuffle.com, and it wouldn’t go! Finally it did and I was relieved after a lot of frustration.

In the morning right after I woke up, someone was messaging me through the website’s chatbox. They couldn’t buy the premium subscription, it would just give an error! I dropped everything (and ended up being late to school) trying to fix it. Stripe, the payment processor I use, has two API keys. There are also test and production versions of those keys. I only had switched out one, so there was one production key and one test key! The problem was fixed and then subscriptions worked smoothly.

I got over 5k site views and 10,000 routes were made on the launch day alone. The 2 days after were also very strong. Overall, I’m very proud of how the launch went.

You’ve received over 400 upvotes at Product Hunt since launch, do you have any tips for other makers who are looking to launch their makes on Product Hunt?

Use Twitter to your advantage. A few months ago, Wes Bos, a well-known JavaScript instructor, tweeted wanting to know about any interesting side projects. I replied back with a screenshot of the prototype, before it was ready, and 30 people reached out wondering if they could beta test or help me out in any way! You’ll also want to build the hype before your launch, setup a decent landing page where people can subscribe for updates.

What are some milestones that Routeshuffle has hit since launch that blow your mind?

As of now, 20,000 routes have been made! I also have paying subscribers, so the idea is validated. People have reached out to me in the sport and mapping industries, letting me know that I can stop by or ask questions whenever I want. It’s awesome, and these people are really nice!

Now that you have officially launched Routeshuffle, what are some short term goals you are working towards?

Getting more premium subscribers would be amazing. I also didn’t reach out to media outlets yet, but am going to do that soon.

What is one website or resource you used during making Routeshuffle that made the process 100 times easier?

Glitch.com! It’s an amazing site for coding Node.js projects. You can code directly into their web interface, it instantly deploys, it basically provides free hosting, and their support community will help you almost instantly!

Other than Routeshuffle, have you launched any other projects?

Last year I launched two, one was “radione.ws“, a site for listening to hourly radio news summaries. The other was “Santa, Mail Me!“, where parents could order handwritten letters from Santa for their children.

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