How I Mastered Building In Public And Created A 5-Figure Business In 20 Months

Published: November 5th, 2022
Kevon Cheung
Founder, Public Lab
Public Lab
from Hong Kong
started April 2021
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hey! My name is Kevon Cheung, and I run Public Lab helping creators create their profitable and buzzing launches by building in public.

I wrote a Twitter book, Find Joy in Chaos. I run a live cohort-based course, Build in Public Mastery. I also write through my Public Lab’s blog and newsletter.

I started becoming active online with no niche, network, or followers at the end of 2020. It took me 20 months to get to my mid-5-figure online business today. While this number might not be significant compared to a lot of 6 to 7-figure businesses out there on the Internet, the invaluable return I get is my self-worth.

I finally feel my self-worth and that I have something to bring to the world. I will share more below.


To share what I know with the community is something I look forward to every day.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

At the end of 2020, I walked away from my CEO role at a funded SaaS company because I couldn’t grow the business. Suddenly, I found myself lost about my next step. There was an internal voice saying “Dang, Kevon! After working hard for 8 years, you’re still a nobody!”

That’s true. Back then, if you google my name. You would find my LinkedIn profile and not much else. It was a painful realization because I dedicated all my time to the companies I worked for or co-created. It wasn’t a good feeling, but it triggered a sense of change.

At the same time, my first child was coming along. So I started rethinking how work and family fit into my life. I wanted a family-oriented life with more time and flexibility.

From that day onwards, I knew I had to build a presence and a voice online and then grow a sustainable business with them. But, I had no idea how to start and get people to notice me.

So I started documenting my journey, sharing my learnings, and telling people what I was working on Twitter. It was slow at first because I had no followers. I stumbled upon “Building in Public” after 2 months of soul-searching and instantly felt connected. The values of honesty, transparency, and helpfulness are exactly how I live my life.

After finding out that more entrepreneurs are trying to build in public and seeing there weren’t any good resources to help them, I decided I could be the person to help. And I started writing a “Building in Public Guide” in public. That was the start of my journey.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

To talk and share about Building in Public, I have to build in public myself to be convincing. I have to become a role model in people’s eyes.

So I spent a full 2 months researching the topic and learning as much as I could. I plugged myself into a Building in Public forum and spent hours on it every day. I took pages of notes to understand what people were asking and discussing. As my understanding of the framework grew, I also actively helped others by answering their questions and suggesting the next steps.

In parallel, I was putting together the guide and sharing my work in progress regularly. At first, no one cared. I only got 4 or 7 likes per sharing. But getting a few eyeballs a day was enough to accumulate an early batch of readers. One day, I wanted feedback on my guide and I asked publicly on Twitter. To my surprise, 9 people raised their hands to help. That was mindblowing because I was completely unknown on the Internet just weeks ago.

As I wrote and edited the guide, I kept sharing and working directly with the early readers. When I finally launched the Building in Public Guide, a lot of these early readers shared it too. In 3 days, I got 2,100 people reading my guide and suddenly a lot of people called me the “Build in Public guy”.

From that point onward, I’ve been observing, helping, and serving my audience based on what they need. I’ve created products of community, books, and courses to help them move closer to their goals.

Creating content is to power a business. I hope fewer creators can fall into the trap of doing it solely to grow a fanbase.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Because I experienced the benefit of Building in Public, I build all my products in public ever since. The long-term impact of it is a trustworthy brand. I’ve received many similar comments like this one from people all over the world:


And a strong personal brand can go a long way when I’m running a content business. When people trust me, they skip reading the website or sales copy.

The other significant benefit of Building in Public is the momentum I can gather toward a launch. As I mentioned above, I work closely with my community and create my products with them. These people are investors in my products because they contribute their time and feedback. They also see how committed I am to creating values for them.


All these nurture the momentum that explodes at the launch. This is powerful. This is Momentum Marketing in Building in Public.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

As a creator myself, a big part of attracting and retaining audiences is constantly delivering value to people. This means a combination of things. It can be inspiring tweets, an actionable newsletter or video, an in-depth how-to article, and many more. As long as people experience a type of transformation, big or small, they are willing to continue to listen to you.

And this is how I run my content business. I have a mix of light and in-depth content serving different people. But if you ask me the content I’m most proud of, I’d say it is the transparent retrospective of my journey. This is what Building in Public is about. Here’s me summarizing my lessons into a playbook to share with everyone:


I shared all my learnings and mistakes in running online courses. I shared my monthly profit & loss and wrote an annual retrospective to give other creators a reference point. The ROI from these efforts is unclear, but I’m a firm believer that they contribute to my long-term success.

Here is me sharing the sales number of my book Find Joy in Chaos:


How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

The beauty of running an online education business is that the startup cost is very low. On average I’m spending USD 600 a month on tools. This also means that I’m profitable once I started monetizing through creating paid products.

I use Twitter as a place to build my brand and connect with people. I can say that without Twitter, there is no Kevon Cheung or Public Lab. Putting 100% of my attention on Twitter in the early days allowed me to learn the culture and truly blend myself into the community of my choice. I’m at 15,000 followers on Twitter now. While I don’t believe the number of followers implies anything about the business, I see a strong Twitter presence as a growth engine because it introduces me to a lot of new people regularly. Plus word of mouth is much easier over social media.

I’m currently expanding my reach on YouTube. This is because as a course instructor, I want my prospective students to have a glimpse into what kind of person and instructor I am. They can know my character and communication style before deciding to join my course.

As an author, I’m also expanding my reach on Amazon. When people search for Twitter-related books, they can find Find Joy in Chaos.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Firstly, it is about people. There are a lot of false beliefs out there painting a picture of generating an insane amount of sales with smart funnels or ads or social media posts. I don’t believe in them. It is not because they aren’t useful. They are very useful, but to run a sustainable business, they must go with strong relationships with people.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my Build in Public framework so far because it helps people focus on transparency and community - 2 things our modern world needs the most. Building a successful business is no longer about having the best idea or secret sauce. If you can work with the community around you, listen to them, and share your progress, you will create useful things they will buy.

Secondly, it is okay to sell. Many people are scared to promote their products because they’re afraid people might be pissed and leave. I was one. And I know that this is common because our relationships and trust with potential customers are low.

I like to see it like running a restaurant. If I’ve helped introduce our menus to pedestrians and serve amazing food to customers, then I don’t have fear when it comes to mentioning a new product our restaurant is launching. It becomes sharing a piece of information, not selling.

This is why the key is to build up relationships and trust by being friendly and useful to the people you serve.

Putting 100% of my attention on Twitter in the early days allowed me to learn the culture and truly blend myself into the community of my choice.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Twitter is where I spend a lot of time connecting with my community. It can be hectic because social media is chaotic and noisy. I use a tool called Hypefury to help schedule my tweets and automate my retweets or follow-up replies. It has proven to be my best investment because I can take back control of Twitter instead of letting it control how I spend my day.

I am a firm believer in showing up and I need to have video time with my students, clients, and fans. I use Loom to record short videos so I can quickly share them with them, and they can find time to watch them. It significantly levels up relationships and trust compared to using just text.


Lastly, email communication is vital to my business because that’s how I make sure to deliver my messages to their inboxes directly. I use ConvertKit because it is designed for creators like me. I like that they don’t try to pack everything into their software. They do a few things and do them very well.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

When I was working in and running startups early in my career, Seeking Wisdom, a podcast started by David Cancel and Dave Gerhardt at Drift, challenged and grew me. They covered a range of topics on becoming a better person, implementing startup marketing strategies, and growing as a successful entrepreneur. The show is not active anymore, but I’ll never forget its impact on me.

When I was about one year into building Public Lab, I read $100M Offers by Alex Hormozi, and it was game-changing for me. As an entrepreneur, I’m forever learning the skills of creating products and offers and then selling them. This book taught me how to think about and structure my offers. I read it at the right time and implemented the tactics right away.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

This is the biggest myth for any creator stating - that you need to first grow an audience before building a business. This is not true.

This is why a lot of creators have a lot of fun creating content and growing their fanbase only to find that they cannot make enough money to keep going.

It is important to see an audience as an enormous feedback machine. Instead of entertaining people, it is more important to observe, ask, and listen to what they need. It means even if you have 10 people following and interacting with you, you can have dozens of data points to work with to create the product that people need.

Creating content is to power a business. I hope fewer creators can fall into the trap of doing it solely to grow a fanbase.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I bring on contractors to help with certain parts of my business. The need is changing, so the best way is to reach out to me and say hi! We never know where this relationship can take us!

Where can we go to learn more?

I’m the most active on Twitter and you can say hi at Twitter.

If you want to check out everything I do, you can visit Website.

If you want to learn how to grow a community around you on Twitter, check out my book.

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!