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An interview with Marcus Battle founder of Three Letters

After my first deployment [on Amezmo] just worked and only took seconds, I was hooked.

Based, in North Carolina, Marcus Battle curates a dictionary of at-work acronyms used in offices and at work. Three Letters is a new application that was launched on Amezmo. As a developer, Marcus was able to quickly deploy his app without worrying about security, DevOps, and server management. We spoke with Marcus to hear about his experience with deploying PHP applications on Amezmo and to learn more about his new app.

How did you come up with the idea for Three Letters?

Hey Ryan, great question! Back in August (2020) I was promoted to senior manager of our technical writing program for developer tutorials at Twilio. As many find out with a recent promotion or new job, there’s a world of vernacular that you’re just not familiar with; even if you’re just moving to another team within the same department.

I clearly remember being on one of my first leadership calls, drowning in what I call "acronym anxiety." It's that overwhelming nervousness and FOMO when it seems like everyone on the call knows what the acronym means except you lol. After repeatedly asking, "what does that stand for?", I finally interrupted one more time to question whether or not there was a central database for all of the company's internal acronyms.

During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, are more people interested in the learning about office acronyms?

I’ve worked remotely for the last eight years so location to me is irrelevant. Each company I’ve been at has their own culture and as a result, their own language.

I actually believe that because Covid has caused more people to change jobs, the opportunity for people to find themselves needing to “catch up” will increase. New hires will have enough stress starting a new job, as some may even be starting new careers. No need to add heightened imposter syndrome to the list.

How long did it take you to build Three Letters?

I'm actually proud of myself with this project lol. With working my full time job, helping home school, and increased meetings, I was able to sneak 15 mins here and there late at night and get the first version published in a month!

How did Amezmo help you with your PHP hosting and deployment needs?

I personally don’t believe in coincidences, but my discovery of Amezmo was so timely! Around the same time I finished my prototype, Digital Ocean launched the beta of their App Platform. As a longtime DO customer, I was excited about the thought of not having to actually manage my server and just focus on building. It was so important that I could use my time wisely and not get distracted by nginx, SSL certificates, and database security.

The idea of automatic deployments was a God-send until I realized that each deployment was taking over one minute. I hate to sound impatient, but that was just too long.

After a quick discussion on Twitter about a hiccup I was having with environment variables, Amezmo reached out with a strong message
"Amezmo does this by default :)"

That was all I needed to get started. After my first deployment just worked and only took seconds, I was hooked. Three Letters is written using the Laravel 8 framework for PHP so the fact that Amezmo was built for PHP, it just outperformed App Platform by leaps and bounds. I felt like the service anticipated what I needed and responded accordingly. To date, I've get no urge for special configurations. It literally worked out of the box!

What advice would you give to an aspiring developer that’s working on their first app?

Before you write a line of code, define what "finished" means to you. Three Letters is not my first app, but it is the first one I’ve finished, publicly.

Most developers will tell you to just do it and finish, but the more I thought about it, I didn't know what finish meant. Was that when the MVP was polished? How about when I had my first paid customer? But doesn’t finished literally mean done? It didn't seem logical to ask myself when am I done, because done is the end and I’m just getting started!

It caused so much friction in my building process until one day I realized, for me, there is no finish line within the next 6 months. Finished actually meant, "when are you ready to publish it?" That's what finish means to me and that's my advice; define when you are ready to publish it (tell strangers about it and show it off).

What are your plans for the future? What’s next for Three Letters?

I'm still loving my new role at Twilio, and I've already had the thrill of being a full-time entrepreneur, so the immediate future will keep Three Letters as a side-project. I have so much to add to the developers I serve through our technical writing program and see Three Letters as another opportunity in my life to fulfill my daily mission; to improve the lives of those around me.

While it needs good SEO prominence, I believe Three Letters’ success really depends on HR departments using it as an on-boarding tool for new hires and the recently promoted. That's the target audience (today).

Three Letters was originally a Slack app, so the next milestone will be the completion of the Slack App and adoption within a few companies actively hiring. That will be the real test for whether or not it works.

I recently added the ability for anyone to signup, contribute their own acronyms, and help empower others to have confidence in their fields. So it would be awesome to start seeing those registrations pick up as well.

Find out more about Marcus by following him on Twitter, and check out Three Letters, and try Amezmo to find out more about our Managed PHP Hosting platform.

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