Hi.

I’m Josh Sowin.

CEO @ Brainjolt

helping people save money on great products

🌐 Founder @ Hypertext Foundation

a 501(c)3 supporting the arts + tech

🧩 Co-founder @ Blue Kazoo

Beautiful, sustainable jigsaw puzzles.

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Welcome internet traveler… you’ve reached my information superhighway.

Founder vibes

\˚ㄥ˚\

I’ve started over a dozen companies, some of which were acquired and others that were hilarious failures learning opportunities.

ZOMG, click to unfold this and tell me more!! ➜

Okay, since you asked…

Blue Kazoo. A premium jigsaw puzzle brand I co-founded with Abraham Piper. He’s that TikTok influencer who walks around talking into his phone on train tracks. You may have seen our all-black puzzle that went viral. We sold $1m in puzzles in our first 8 months.

Brainjolt. I’m also co-founder of Brainjolt, an online media publisher that reaches hundreds of millions of users a month. We started this a decade ago in 2013.

Interrobang. Start this in 2022 (”a non-standard, non-boring investment fund”) but put it on pause while I jumped back into Brainjolt for a lil bit because baby needed help.

Bootstrapped. Abraham and I bootstrapped Brainjolt and Blue Kazoo (I still remember cashing the credit card balance transfer check when we started Brainjolt) and despite having never taken capital we’ve built 22 brands (owned + operated), 80m followers, multiple billions of video views, and sold over a billion dollars worth of Amazon products.

Back in my day… I co-founded a VC-backed enterprise SaaS solution that continues to scale. Before that I started an ad network (acquired by BuySellAds), what we would now describe as a “Groupon clone” (that didn’t last long), a design and development agency, a real estate crowdfunding platform (the SEC killed it because it was too early), a real estate listing platform (acquired by LandHub).

Projectzzz + stuff

Probability of updating this: ⬜⬜⬜⬜⬜ 0.4%

“01/01/Oh, Oh!” hats (Apr 2024)

Inspired by this guy in the Time Bomb Y2K documentary, Emily and I made our own hats celebrating the survival of the human species from the Y2K bug. Get your own at the Hypertext Foundation website!

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AI-gen music has been pretty bad, but it’s JUST getting to the point of passable. Suno.ai is the best I’ve seen, so I decided to make a lofi youtube channel using it. In this video I walk through the process of the music generation.

My first children’s book, designed for one special kid. It was surprisingly hard to find a good way to make something that works on all platforms (desktop, tablet, and mobile) and plays well with tiny fingers.

After discarding custom website options and storybook creator apps I tested an html export of Keynote which worked surprisingly well. But I wanted to publish changes easier, so ended up using Google Slides using a public link.

I really loved how it turned out. I used a mix of DALL-E 3 and Midjourney for the images, then extended and fixed them up in Photoshop.

I was nervous to show her, but she loved it! Read it a bunch of times, interacted with it (the zoom in is a nice feature), and then talked about it into the next day. (Update weeks later: she keeps asking for it! “Let’s play the Princess Game,” she implores.)

Read about it more in my newsletter #16.

rick.exe (Feb 2024)

A popup game / rickroll. Based on the windows dialog game I made in Dec with new features:

  1. A start button
  2. IMAGES!!!
  3. Dialogs autosize dynamically based on image size
  4. MUSIC!!!
  5. Faster touch response
  6. MOAR RICK!!!
  7. Dialogs close based on the X not a button
  8. Dialogs can be moved in front by clicking on them (z-index magic)

There are still some edge cases of bugs but I am too lazy to fix them and want to move on to the next useless website. If you find one, fix it and send me the code ¬‿¬

BeepBox Music Demo (Feb 2024)

I discovered BeepBox a while back and kept wanting to play with it — a simple html/css/js tracker is just the thing to cheer anyone up. I grew up in awe of Screamtracker listening to Purple Motion who was a member of Future Crew. FC created Second Reality (youtube) in 1993 which I grew up watching on my Gateway 386DX/33 over and over because IT WAS SO COOL and imo is still the best demoscene thing ever created. Anyway back to BeepBox… I started at 6am with the idea of just playing with it for a few minutes and 6 hours later this silly homage to American Football’s “For Sure” was BeepBox’d out. (Bonus: An incredible deepdive into the source code of Second Reality by Fabien Sanglard.)

Hypertext Foundation (Dec 2023)

We set up a 501c3 nonprofit because OH WE HAVE PLANS.

Windows Dialog Game (Dec 2023)

I think this is the first original game I’ve ever shipped (?). I’ve made dumb little things for sport but I think this is the first that actually qualifies as possible a real game, tho even that is a stretch. My high score so far is 1790… can you beat it?

Useless Website (Dec 2023)

Inspired by Marvin Minsky's Useless Box, if you leave this running long enough on auto mode it will eventually overload itself and thus turn itself off. This is its only purpose.

Deals Newsletter (Nov 2023)

I rarely talk about Real Work Projects here, but work got crazy busy in Q4, and although I don’t like to spill All The Secrets, I’m very proud that we launched a super successful newsletter that quickly built up to a million subscribers!

Rate Limits (Oct 2023)

As soon as I got access to DALL-E 3 I stayed up late for weeks and created thousands of ads, stress testing their system and my sanity. A few of my favorites are on the Instagram pop-up gallery.

Takeout Discovery Platform (Private Beta, Aug 2023)

Over the course of two months me and ChatGPT created a full-featured website discovery platform using React and Firebase. I hadn’t done true head-to-keyboard programming in years and it was a perfect challenge to learn modern dev tools. It launched in private beta with a full suite of features from profile creation, posting, search, tagging, and commenting.

AI Search Trends (Jan 2023)

This is the output of a python mathlib script that connects to the Google Search Trends API (built using the help of ChatGPT of course)

2000 - 2020 >>
  • Rural Property Finder (2006) started as a test project to learn PHP/MySQL, later acquired by LandHub
  • NeilPostman.org (2005) a man I became so obsessed with i built THE website about him
  • Fire and Knowledge (2004) for a while I was a blogger saying dumb things and learned wordpress
1994 - 2000 >>
  • Pet Supply Online (2000) in college i created an online pet store and then sold it on eBay
  • LinuxWeb.com (1998) in high school, instead of having friends, i made a website dedicated to linux
  • My Geocities Homepage (1996) still need to find this for the 3D animated spinning text
  • Hourglass BBS (1994) a place where folks could dial-in and play Legend of the Red Dragon, send fidonet mail, etc and I pretended I wasn’t a kid

An occasional newsletter

I write a newsletter about my web wanderings:

AI-nerd // crypto-dabbler

(∩`-´)⊃━☆゚.*・。゚

I’ve been fascinated with crypto since 2013 when I did my first bitcoin transaction just so I wouldn’t become an old man left in the dark ages. Been through a fair share of rug pulls.

In 2022 I became an AI influencer for a few weeks on TikTok. I knew I had achieved True Influencer Status because a friend of Emily mentioned a video they saw and she was like, yeah, that’s Josh and I edited it. After that, I faded back into comfortable obscurity.

I had a small resurgence with my 800% slower series (Windows XP was the big hit) which resulted in a lot of PC makers in my dms.

An… enigma?

┻┳| ┳┻| _ ┻┳| •.•) ┳┻|⊂ノ ┻┳|

Someone once told me ”you’re an enigma, man” in the most California voice I’ve ever heard. Was it a compliment or a criticism? I never asked.

I’m SO ready to judge you, tell me some stuff ➜
  • I sold my first business on eBay in 2004.
  • At seminary I studied philosophy, then left my final semester and never finished.
  • I made NeilPostman.org because Amusing Ourselves to Death enchanted me.
  • Then because I love irony I started a viral news website. ¯\(ツ)
  • When I’m feeling down I bake banana bread and dump a bunch of ricotta in the batter. Try it.
  • As a teenager I ran a BBS on my grandparents phone line and no one knew I was a kid.
  • I’ve seen all the Hayao Miyazaki documentaries… multiple times.
  • During middle school classes I’d write code on pen and paper instead of getting good grades.
  • I ran one of the top 10 websites on the internet on a single cheap server. It stayed up most of the time. When it didn’t, it was hell.
  • When I was 14 I learned HTML by deconstructing an awful Star Trek Voyager website.
  • In the 90’s I ran a website promoting Linux as the technological savior of humanity.
  • I love to send voice messages — the best management is asynchronous. Sometimes friendship, too.

Contact

I’ve long since given up on email, but give it a try, it’s not hard to guess at this domain.

Medium

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