Behind the Make: Studddent

March 1, 2018

What started out as a simple spreadsheet to keep track of all the offers and discounts he could get while at University, maker Calum Patrick’s Studddent has turned into an online hub for student discounts.

Calum was able to find some time between working on Studddent and University to give us a little more information on his make process.


In 100 words or less, what exactly is Studddent?

Studddent is a place to find high-quality online services that offer a substantial discount for college or university students. Anybody can submit a link to Studddent, and the list is curated by an upvote/downvote system. The links on Studddent are mostly resources related to Design, Development, and Education. It’s a great resource for students who are looking to build their skillset without paying much.

How did you come up with the idea for Studddent?

When I started my first year in University last September, I was very excited to start taking advantage of all the student discounts that I’d heard of before but wasn’t eligible for yet. I quickly realized that I had forgotten about most of the ones that I was planning on signing up for, so I created a spreadsheet containing the best ones I could find.

After turning this into a shared spreadsheet with my friends contributing to it, I thought it would be a helpful resource for students if this data was public, so I started working on the design for Studddent.

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

About an hour. I didn’t have any plans the day I decided to make it a website, so I pretty quickly opened up Illustrator and made a rough version of what It would look like.

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

Building Studddent was a significant learning process. Part of the reason I was so eager to create Studddent was that I was envious of people who actually possessed the skills needed to turn their ideas into real functioning websites. This was something that I wanted to be able to do. I decided to use Node.js since I’d used it for a very basic project before, and then spent most of my time learning how to add functionality like pulling from a database, allowing users to submit links, voting, etc.

I wanted to encourage users to actually vote on links, so It was important that users weren’t required to sign up for an account in order to do so. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to incorporate some security measures that would prevent people from trivially spamming a single link with tons of votes.

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

Yes, to be honest, every part of the Back End was a challenge since I’d never made a website like Studddent before. My skills were pretty much limited to Front End development, so I needed to teach myself the skills needed for each step of the process.

Another hurdle was setting up the production version of Studddent using AWS, another tool I’d never used before. Small things like enforcing HTTPS and creating a backup server took a lot of time to learn since I’d had no previous experience with them.

How did your launch day go?

Great! I woke up around 8 AM EST to see a bunch of tweets about Studddent on Product Hunt. I had originally posted it a day before, but at some point, during the day it disappeared. I guess a curator removed it so that it could be featured the following day. I ended up being asleep for the first 5 hours or so of Studddent’s launch day so once I woke up I spent most of my morning making sure everything was running smoothly.

Aside from gaining the #1 spot on Product Hunt, a lot of traffic was coming from social referrals. Lots of students seemed to enjoy sharing the resources with their friends.

Looking back at Studddent’s launch day, would you do anything different?

On launch day, I think my biggest mistake was being asleep while Studddent was #1 on Product Hunt. There were lots of questions and comments that I wish I could have responded to right away. I also didn’t notice that my analytics wasn’t working perfectly, but I quickly fixed that after waking up.

At the bottom of the homepage of Studddent, there’s a place where you can sign up to receive updates on the project. I wish I send out more emails to the list I’d grown in the first couple weeks after launch. The first email I sent out ended up being a month after launch when many people who signed up had already forgotten about Studddent.

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

My biggest short-term goal right now is to find an internship where I’ll learn to work on products in a team environment. I want to broaden my skill set for creating web apps and also gain some experience working on a larger-scale project.

For Studddent, I’m figuring out how to monetize it. I’ve been experimenting with promoted links and thinking about how I would incorporate monetization without sacrificing the quality of the resources.

Other than Studddent, have you launched any other projects?

Since launching Studddent, I recreated my personal website where I’m maintaining a list of what I’m working on every day. It can be seen at https://calum.co.

My next project is CoinDash — a dashboard for monitoring cryptocurrency investments. You can check it out on my GitHub!

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