Lars Karbo

The Art of Doing Small and Simple Projects

by Lars Karbo • 15th Sep 2021

I need to stop making complex products.

When I started my 12 startups in 12 months project, I aspired towards freedom. But I realize, if you play your cards wrong, you’ll just end up with less freedom and more liabilities.

Now I’m sitting with a bunch of products in my hands that need big new iterations to ever be successful.

Simple Projects have one problem to solve

Simple projects solve one thing very well.

But can’t you compensate by using premade components and being smart when developing?

Compansating by being a rock star developer

My usual response to these problems, have been to just double down on becoming a better, faster and more efficient programmer.

I see this as a challenge. I componentize things, reuse code across projects, and over time decrease the complexity and work required to make things several places.

This is cool. And it might help, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Optimizing vs simplifying

Becoming a better developer helps, because you optimize the process. Cut down time and energy required to build and maintain things. But it’s like having a budget, and reducing some of the budget costs.

Simplifying means choosing less pieces to work with. Maybe you end up not needing that much optimization. Simplifying makes you life easier.

I always knew it’s smart to not build everything yourself and to keep things simple. I just needed to feel it on my body.

I built my own auth system and thought it would make my life easier. But when email validation suddenly stops working on a project you did 4 months ago, I regret that decision.

I’m tired of making UI

A lot of the work I end up doing is making UI. The same shit, over and over again.

When you aim to be fast and deliver lots of things the work can end up being shallow. Certain things needs to be on most projects (like a website, payment solution and user management), and after implementing that, it’s not much time left for the unique, interesting and deep work.

Paving the way forward for my last 4 projects

I have made 8 of the 12 startups. I will make four more things before 2022.

The four last projects will be simple. I promise.

Making APIs

In my head, the holy grail of simple projects has manifested itself to be an API.

If I make and API and sell it on something like RapidAPI, I only have one piece to focus on. I can focus all my energy into this one piece.

I want at least two of the last four projects to be paid API endpoints. I’ll deploy them on RapidAPI, and have as few moving parts as possible.

No UI, subscriptions or email integrations scripts to worry about. They won’t take my developer time, and – more importantly – they won’t take space in my head.

Space in my head digression

Investing in crypto might be smart for the future, but it takes space in your head.

Things occupy your mind.

And leave less space for important deep work.

Voice input keyboard app

Do people use dication on their phones? Speech-to-text is starting to be extremely good, but I find it hard to use dictation as a complete writing tool.

What about a voice input keyboard that let’s you modify text, add punctuation and write a book?

I know this exists for computers, but I want a simple keyboard on iOS.

Is this a good idea? It might become one of my four last projects.


Simple projects is an art. Simplicity in general is an art. It can make a huge difference.

Let’s go last four projects.