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I'm so freaking happy that someone finally affirmed my feelings that maybe, just maybe, I don't need to start my own startup with the notion of "Unicorn or Bust". I've just felt wrong since graduating college 3 years ago, unable to motivate myself to hack outside of work, and this finally captures why I've felt so tired. I am tired of feeling like I need a Unicorn idea to justify working on something outside of my job. I want to work for myself, but it just hasn't felt possible without a plan to "Take over the world". I don't want to take over the world. I want to build something that people use and can sustain me. That's it. But for every idea, there are millions of reasons in the back of my head that stop me from doing it, all boiling down to "Well I just won't be able able to grow this as a startup".

I don't really care about growing something as a startup. I don't need to revolutionize anything. I just want to make someone's day better through software. I want to launch a cool product that people find fun, silly, useful, critical to their process, whatever you want, and NOT be beholden to interests of anyone who isn't involved in the daily operations of whatever product that is.

I just want to build something, and make it better every day. Something that I own, that I can change however I want, whenever I want. I shouldn't have felt like I needed a16z to invest in my company to believe that my product is worth something.




Personally this was my favourite bit:

  Because while that area north of Silicon Valley is busy 
  disrupting everything, it still hasn’t caught up with the 
  basic disruption of geography.


Mine too. With cost of living skyrocketing, at this point it's purely masochism to stay in San Francisco.


I believe conquering space and time is on the Silicon Valley TODO list.


As a remote worker and remote work proponent that was by far my favorite quote.


As someone who worked remote for about two years I feel like you have less impact on the overall direction of the services you work on. At least unless your company is embracing remote work and make sacrifices to support it. Lot of information exchange happens casually, between a cup of coffee, in the office. It's hard to make up for that in infrastructure and processes in remote work.


That's a management issue. If the correct remote work processes are in place things like this are easy to overcome. It also helps when 90%+ of your company is remote.

I agree though, remote work only works if your company is full on remote (culture, comms, hr, etc).


Any advice for finding remote work?


As someone else replied, contacts, friends and old colleagues. I got my first remote job by going to the local Ruby user group and getting to know people.

You might also check https://weworkremotely.com/ (full disclosure, company I work for runs the site).


I found remote work through old work contracts. People that trust me to do a good job regardless of where I am. It is difficult for companies to give people that trust, so it is all about helping them to find that trust and then not letting then down.


Get an offer first. After that then say you'll only work remotely.


That is pretty funny solution, but it might just work sometimes. How much has that worked for you?



Why not find local work and then start a company you can run remotely?


Speaking for myself here, I've tried for my whole 6 year professional career to "make it big" outside of normal work hours. I've got lots of debt to pay off, and I wouldn't mind working for myself (or so I make myself believe).

But I'm much happier now that I've stopped doing that, and am focusing on just doing a great job at my day job, and relaxing in the evenings with my wife and children. Yes, we still have loads of debt, and we don't all fit in our Pacifica. But there's no rush to solve those, they will come in time. And even once they're solved, there will always be other little problems that need to be solved. There's no end to that until I'm dead.

And frankly, I'm doing a better job at work now than I ever did before, now that I can focus all my mind on it without trying to brainstorm up the next big thing in the background all the time.


I hear you. I've been trying to do that (figure out the next big thing in the 'background' while working a day job) for 15 years, and, let me look around.... nope, no unicorns here yet. I'm slowly coming to the same conclusion as you, but it's going to be hard to kill and bury my hopes dreams. I'm going to have to put together a mock funeral (complete with a casket) for my dreams one day, in order to cope with this reality. I'd love to run my own business (unicorn OR "lifestyle" business) but I feel the opportunity is slipping away year by year...


I started writing a comment that is nearly the same as this one, I'm glad I read yours before commenting. I guess there are lots of people who think the same way. I wonder where they hang out (other than HN)


There's plenty of us who feel that way right here.

In fact, this article isn't even particularly unusual. I feel like we see more articles warning you that startups aren't heaven on Earth than articles explaining that you should try them. I think it's more like HN is a place that considers them a viable option, and that makes it pretty far out in the grand scheme of things because mainstream $X doesn't, for most values of $X.

I think "HN is full of people encouraging you to roll all the dice on startups!" is more about what people think "should" be true than what is actually true.


A lot of people are looking for such a community. I suspect the effect he discusses in the article -- only hyper-growth VC-backed ventures get attention -- means the rest of us hang out on podcasts, twitter, obscure forums, weird corners of the internet, and real life.


May be we should start a community then? Specifically for those looking to make something useful and make enough money to sustain themselves and their families.


Let's start using this one http://www.bootstrappers.io and support the makers.


That's an interesting idea.


We started our company because I could fund it out of pocket for less than the cost of coffee or lunch for a week, and grow at whatever pace made sense. Even if we only occupy 0.1% of the market ever, we'll be able to pay the salaries of ourselves and our friends and have a lot of room to spare into other projects that we think should be made but probably need more development up front.

This isn't exactly an HN love story, but it's working out well for us so far, and we're learning a lot. I can't say I regret it, and at the moment I know that I would regret if I had gone after funding of some sort. Right now it's just me and the customer, working out who needs what. Third legs need not apply.


The whole idea that expansion is bad for a lifestyle business is interesting to read about. There are a bunch of 100 year old, family run businesses that very interesting and intelligently ran. I wonder how many pieces of software will be around in 100 years, not many from unicorns I'd expect.


The idea is not that expansion per se is bad. Taking VC money to expand is. If you can expand fast without using other people's money then great.


Idea for anyone interested in starting something that supports just you: visit Flippa.com. Sort by revenue. Save up, and buy something on there that you can grow from $500/mo in revenue to $1000/mo, then to $2000/mo, etc.

There are tons of sane businesses being sold on there that you can buy up and grow. At the very least, you'll see what actually makes money.


Do you have any experience buying businesses from there? Any tips on how to find a reasonable price? I heard that a reasonable price would be (monthly revenue) * 12


A lot of them sell for much less than (monthly revenue) * 12. I haven't personally purchased a site from there, but I know people who have.

You don't need to buy something from there -- you can simply use the site to find niches where people actually make money.

Making money online can be done. Example: I started a Minecraft server early on, sold in-game benefits, and now make $5-15K (depending on season) per month. A friend of mine makes way more. Here are the stats he sent me recently: https://i.gyazo.com/81718cef2295bbf4df8a6d9892d140c1.png

One of DHH's bits of advice is to find a niche and focus on profiting enough to support yourself. The internet is the best place to do that.


Is there a way to contact you to get proper insight into this. I noticed there is no email to reach you on your profile. As a student, I am looking for ways to support myself and be totally in-charge of things. Thanks


I've always thought the idea of "giving more value than you take" is an ideal worth shooting for.


That's the definition of business.


I would have to disagree with that as a blanket statement.

Plenty of "successful" businesses use other means besides added value to extract rents from customers.

Robert Reich has recently written very eloquently and convincingly about how multi-national corps are using all sorts non-value producing economics to increase bottom lines at our expenses.

For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation.

That’s partly because it’s perfectly legal in the U.S. (but not in most other nations) for the makers of branded drugs to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay introducing cheaper unbranded equivalents, after patents on the brands have expired.

This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year – a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck, and other big proprietary drug companies, their executives, and major shareholders.[1]

[1] http://robertreich.org/post/132363519655


You'd be surprised how many people are looking for a shortcut where they can exploit value built by others.


"Giving disproportionate value than you take" is disruption.

The light bulb, steam engine, radio communication, internet kind of value.


I think the VC-less voices have been reasonably represented, at least here on HN. patio11 alone is a prominent presence around here (2nd user with most karma!) and a good example that one can succeed doing one's own thing without taking outside investment.

There's also idlewords, the people behind multiple podcasts (eg. Startup Success & Startups For the Rest of Us), and various well received one-person "Show HN"s.

There's plenty of idol adoration and boasting, but I've always felt an alternative was in plain sight if you didn't fit with the "VCistan".




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