Building Personal Infrastructure

160113 2020-10-04 12:11

To enjoy a life of building software, media, and community as a hobby (all things here are NOT related to my job) / for pure pleasure - why build personal infrastructure? And what are the strategies and executions to grow hobby projects? What is my current progress?

Everything starts from playing

Primary school

Playing Chinese copy of Tamiya mini 4WD

And play computer games on DOS.

Introduction to programming with Macromedia Authorware

Middle School

  • Built a website with Microsoft FrontPage to track Iraq War 2003
  • Built a text-based game with QBasic on Digital Dictionary

And then you can play in the classroom behind piles of textbooks :)

High School

  • Built with Lego Mindstorm RCX for FIRST Lego League Challenge
Lego Robots Challenge

College & Grad School

  • used SQL injection to add 20 CNY credits to our school’s meal card for my roommates. However, two days later, they were called by the cashier… LOL.

  • sniffed an audiobook app and then, based on its API, built my own Android App to get free audios.

Why is programming fun?

… the fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts and watching them work in subtle cycles, playing out the consequences of principles built in from the beginning.

— The Mythical Man-month

  • Builders build for themselves anyway. Why not share them with others?
  • Builders build things anyway. Why not make them big?

Meanwhile, I came across some mind-blowing articles.

I conclude:

  • Amazon’s flywheel is built for business with high fixed costs and optimizing returns to scale.
  • My life is with high fixed costs (limited time and energy), and scale economy is worth pursuing in this case.
  • I can achieve more than I think with a powerful personal infrastructure that gains progressive advantages over time.

Plus, some take-away from my previous pre-PMF startup experience

  1. Seek retention-first, data-driven growth. Sean Ellis: “Focusing on customer acquisition over ‘awareness’ takes discipline… At a certain scale, awareness/brand building makes sense. However, for the first year or two it’s a total waste of money.”
  2. Table stakes are table stakes. You don’t need VC to build initial product. Ideas are just ideas. Build your team, build your product, and collaborate with people.

Developing Personal Infra Strategy


Here is the architecture of my hobby projects.

Tech Stack

Technologies: React, React Native Expo, GraphQL, KOA, TypeScript, AVA, Webpack, Airflow, MongoDB, Python Pandas and Flask, svelte, Metabase, Golang, etc.

Servers and APIs: Heroku, DigitalOcean, Azure, AWS, Github Pages, BunnyCDN.

Being an early majority to adopt proven new tech

System Architecture

Focus on building, not wasting time on SRE

Example 1

Example 2

“This architecture is not future-proof! / does not scale!”


  • Services are mostly stateless and horizontal scalable
  • Service collocation is a problem but you have to segregate them anyway when collaborating with various people and achieving Personal IaaS (individually-sellable).
  • Can always evolve to kubernetes.

Personal Root Metrics

Living a balanced life and keep everything on track, measured by data

The key metrics for a “retention-first growth” is cohort analysis.

Benchmarks for reference:

Industry Day 1 Day 7 Day 30
2C 40 20 10
E-commerce 35 15 5
Gaming 30 15 <5
EdTech 25 10 5
  • Values in unit of %



  • Double-entry bookkeeping made easy for living your best financial life
  • Personal CRM: Smartly engage more in meaningful relationships
  • One coding challenge per day


  • Building web & mobile apps with speed & quality

Helped my friends’ projects to start from scratch

  • CocuSocial: Discover a different food and drink experience
  • helped my day job at IoTeX to build staking portal, blockchain explorer, desktop wallet, etc.
  • not to mention some other failed projects…



Can I use your projects or join your community?

👍 Definitely and welcome! They are mostly open sourced or open for registration. Thank you for becoming our valued customer or community member!

👏 Feedback is highly appreciated!

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