MVP Approach

  1. idea to solve own problems
  2. build MVP to test whether other people have the same problem and whether your solution helps them and whether they are ready to pay for the solution
  3. if MVP get’s traction/positive feedback: actually build it and/or refine it

Building an MVP in Practice

  1. scribble frontend idea (pen and paper)
  2. build idea in photoshop
  3. build idea (based on PS template) as frontend website
  4. add backend to frontend website

Tech Stack

  • Plain Vanilla code (HTML/CSS/SCSS, JavaScript, jQuery)
  • Linode (one virtual private server)
    • Ubuntu LTS (long-term support)
    • Nginx server with PHP-FPM gateway („Nginx = very maintenance free, crazy fast out of the box“)
  • NameCheap for domain registration (FreeDNS -> add DNS entries to point to Linode VPS IP address)

Development Approaches / Coding Style

  • doesn’t use frameworks (except for jQuery) – because often „they just make things more complex“
  • keep things clean and fast
    • DRY KISS (Don’t Repeat Yourself + Keep It Stupid Simple)
  • developed certain clear repeatable steps to setup new projects based on the same techstack („it’s hard to switch engrained habits“)
    • enables him to setup projects fast and confidently
  • copies code from past projects to use it in new ones
  • has certain, similar folder structure for all projects

Opinions on Tech (Stack)

  • Rather rely on yourself and what you have or will have built (aka. be the master of your empire🏰)
    • rather use your own server setup and controll/manage your linux server yourself then relying on a provider who eventually fucks it up (without you having the opportunity fix the issue or even knowing what’s going on)
  • Doesn’t like AWS – to complicated
  • deploys fast using above described techstack by adjusting existing nginx.conf file (from past project) and uploading it for new project
    • „SSH-ing into a server is definitely superior to a web panel.“
  • knows that he’s probably not following best practices – but(!) actually ships products❗
    • „doesn’t really matter how people do things“ -> „It’s really about what you’re best, quickest and most comfortable with.“❗

Work Ethic + Project and Time Management

  • doesn’t think of himself as a programmer (rather creator and maker)
  • working hard
  • focus on one project at a time
    • after finishing one project respectively before starting a new project: automate the past projects to run without much maintenance
  • use Trello to organize daily, weekly and monthly work
    • focus hardcore without distractions


View on the World

  • refuses to work employed (for the capitalistic machine(?))
    • strong entrepreneurship mindset and dedication
  • believes in highly increasing unequality within the society

Further Knowledge and Qualifications

  • business studies (MBA)
    • impressive knowledge about and ability to explain macro- and micro-economic topics (financial market, inflation, …)
    • Does explicitly recommend not to spend time and money for an MBA

Open Questions

Regarding Pieter Levels

  • Is nomadlist still working with vanilla code (HTML/CSS, JS, jQuery, PHP)?
  • Where/How did you learn to code?
  • When did you start to learn coding?
  • Why do so many people with an MBA recommend not to get an MBA?🤔
    • Is it potentially hard for people with an MBA to recognize the gap between their huge economic knowledge compared to that of other people?

Regarding Tech Stack

  • Why do people use so many frameworks? Is it an excuse to be mediocre in actual programming? Why use frameworks if great projects like nomadlist are build on vanilla code?
    • Seems to align with @adamchainz’s suggestion of resource where author advocates opinion that one shouldn’t learn the „API language and approach to solve problems which are prescribed by frameworks“ (like Django) – but rather master vanilla code to be able to solve everything yourself (and to stay creative eventually)!
  • Why do people learn frameworks if impressive projects like nomadlist don’t even use a database (but json files instead) and uses vanilla code (HTML/CSS, JS, jQuery, PHP)?
  • Does it even make sense to use Python for web development if we can build incredibly creative and innovative projects like nomadlist and hoodmaps with vanilla code (HTML/CSS, JS, jQuery, PHP)?
  • Is Node.js the JavaScript equivalent to Django in Python?
  • Are Node.js, PHP and Django all options to build backends for web applications?

aha experience / confirmation

  • If plain vanilla code is able to make a website and profit like Nomadlist, than we may rather focus on vanilla then learning the prescribed way which frameworks dictate…🤔