How Peerlist Built a New Kind of Professional Network with Railway
Peerlist is a professional network where developers, designers, product managers, and even investors can show portfolios that promote technical skills and experience over titles and opaque credentials.
The company has been featured recently in the news for taking on LinkedIn with its fresh approach and what it calls a “proof of work” portfolio.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Peerlist Cofounder Yogini Bende to learn more about her company’s recent growth and future plans.
Let’s jump right in!
Peerlist is a professional network that prioritizes technical skills and experience
Railway: Can you talk a little bit about how Peerlist works?
Yogini: Peerlist is a proof-of-work professional network for people in tech to showcase the work they’re doing across the internet on a single page.
Say I’m a developer, there are a lot of different things I would like to showcase on my profile. I have my GitHub account, my contributions, different blogposts, personal projects, I also have a resume where I’ve worked with different companies, and more.
Peerlist fetches your data across different platforms to curate your profile. So anyone who visits your profile gets a fair understanding of who you are as a professional – and not just based on what you say, but on the work that’s displayed on your profile.
Railway: Programmers, designers, operators? What kind of users are driven to Peerlist?
Yogini: The majority of Peerlist users are designers and developers. There are also product managers writing case studies and writing about their experience on Peerlist. Then we have Cofounders, CTOs, and investors. Investors use Peerlist to add their portfolio companies, which is a use case we didn’t expect.
A profile on Peerlist captures work experience from around the web
Railway: What can you tell us about the origin story of Peerlist? Did it come out of a need you had with your Cofounders?
Yogini: Me and my Cofounder are married so we spend a lot of time together. Because of the pandemic and the work from home setup, we spent a lot of time building our skills and building a personal brand. I started facing this issue that I’m not able to showcase the depth of what I’m doing at the moment. It’s like people visiting my Linkedin and judging based on my experience which is not fair I believe.
It started hitting both of us like can we make our own portfolio? So we started reaching out to people during the pandemic – we had so much time – and we started realizing that yes this is a genuine problem and we can solve it for many.
So it started as a side project. We both were working with different companies during that time. It was a pandemic side project baby for us when even on the weekends or late nights we’d be working on it. But fortunately both of us had a very good and engaged twitter audience. We had around 50K audience each on Twitter which let our initial distribution be pretty good. We started sharing and promoting it with people saying hey guys we’re building this tell us what you think.
Within a couple of months we got around 600-700 users on our waitlist with just a landing page. So that is where we thought this is a good idea and we kept going and then last October we got our first angel investors. It was a pretty small amount but it gave us the conviction that yes this can be built full time and that is when I left my job.
Then we started taking it more seriously, more of a startup. We’re still in beta but our plan is to remove beta and make a stable release by March.
Railway: What signs have you seen that show users like Peerlist?
Yogini: First, people have started redirecting their personal domains to their Peerlist profile. It’s like they know they don't need to host a different website for themselves which is a very good sign for us that yes people like using this product.
Second, CTOs of many startups and many unicorns in India have reached out to us saying that people have started applying for jobs with their Peerlist profile. And because everything is right in front of the hiring people, making the initial call on whether to go ahead with the candidate or not has started becoming pretty easy for them.
Third, we did not have the hiring module in the early days of Peerlist. But companies started reaching out to us and saying because you have a very active and good developer community, can we post jobs on Peerlist? That is where we started creating the hiring of Peerlist Hire. Then people started posting different jobs on Peerlist.
Railway: How has Railway come into the picture during your product development cycle?
Yogini: When we started, we were using PostgreSQL, and everything was hosted on an EC2 instance on AWS, even the front end. At that time, Peerlist had around 500 users, and our bills used to cost a lot!
EC2 also requires a good team setup and a person with a good knowledge of DevOps who can take care of all this. Given the small team size and cost, we needed some effort to scale the backend in that setup.
So that is when Railway came into the picture. One of my close friends and investors suggested that this was a good platform we should try. We were moving into Nextjs and MongoDB, so this is something that could be a plug-and-play tool for us.
So today our users are growing immensely and we are spending at most $100 a month on Railway. Our users have grown 10x, and the cost has been reduced by more than 80%. Plus, the dependency on DevOps has been resolved. I can take care of all the server activities myself.
That was a great use case for us. I have often been asked this many times why we are moving away from AWS and going into something else.
Peerlist is also starting to allow job posters to post openings
Railway: What are the next milestones? What’s the roadmap look like?
Yogini: We have some big announcements planned for the new year. At the moment we are stabilizing the product. We are introducing DMs and an Inbox where people can actually connect with each other.
After that the major goal is to make it out of Beta with a stable product in front of everyone and a good module for Peerlist Teams where companies can create profiles and jobs. At the moment the hiring module is in the initial stages so making it better is a large part of our roadmap moving forward.
Railway: Where should users go to check out more information on Peerlist? Should they check out your homepage? Make an account?
Yogini: Check us out on the web! Peerlist.io — sign up and make an account!