Building Habits > Building Products

Justin Kan
2 min readJun 23, 2021

I struggled with alcohol addiction for over 20 years, among other destructive habits. Today I launched my social habit-tracking app, Kin. It has been a labor of love a year in the making, based on the learnings that saved my life.

Founders need to build better habits, not just better products. Here’s why.

In 2013, my services startup Exec. was failing. I started drinking because I felt an incredible amount of internalized guilt. I felt like an imposter, and that the failure of my company would reveal to the world who I really was. I also felt guilt for the people I had hired, and the grand promises to investors that I would have to break.

Alcohol made me feel like Superman in social situations, but it also helped me numb the pain when I was alone. Suppressing my emotions with drinking became an abusive relationship and I became addicted to the delayed pain. That cycle is not easily broken, but it can be done by breaking old habits and building healthier ones.

I learned how to hack habits with help from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. He breaks habit-formation down to a science.

Rule #1: don’t rely on motivation. It’s a finite resource and unpredictable for long-term change.

Design your environment with great intention. When I wanted to quit drinking, I told everyone so that I couldn’t back out. I engineered my reality by priming my environment. I turned my aversion to failure into a superpower — drinking became a hostile choice. You should focus on creating a system instead of a one time goal. Use accountability to maintain consistency.

Kin is me productizing my sobriety journey and it is very personal. I built this for myself and friends who have been struggling with addiction. We use this to help each other out.

The results we see convinced us to bring this to the world. We went live on Product Hunt today, go check out and drop an upvote to help us get to #1:

My co-founders (Amitt, Omar, Damien) and I are giving everyone who retweets the thread below a 50% discount on all Kin courses for the rest of this year. DM me your phone number after RT and we’ll set you up.

Here’s to building better habits.