I guess we should discount companies that have single ownership but outsource all the work.
By my definition, for example, I run the most successful single-person business that I'm aware of. But it doesn't make millions, so it might not meet your definition at all.
My goal was to replace my day job with a software business that required as close to zero attention as possible, so that I could have time to spend on the things that actually matter to me.
The business brings in the equivalent of a nice Senior Developer salary, which is not what most people think of when they imagine a successful Startup. But it lets me work with a bunch of cool tech when I want to, and, more importantly, is automated to the point where Customer Service involves a quick 30 second - 10 minute email sweep over morning coffee. For me, that's a lot more valuable than a few more million dollars in the bank.
The cool thing about running your own business is that you get to decide on your own definition of success.
EDIT: I wrote a bit about how I got into this position, in case anybody is interested. It's not actually all that hard to do:
Your definition of success happens to align with mine. I have "enough" right now, and I'd be really happy to work less and maintain my current income level - I just haven't yet been able to pull away from the corporate life. Eventually.
Anyway, had to ask, the one gap seems to be health insurance. I know you mentioned a cheap major medical policy, but what are folks doing to cover their families a little more comprehensively? At least in the US, this is the one big thing that makes it really hard to leave corporate life. I'm fortunate enough to have dual citizenship with a european country, so we could "just" relocate there, but ideally we'd do this while staying resident in the US. I still haven't solved the insurance issue.
Both are well within the realm of profits for a one man startup.
You may find that the coverage you want is less expensive than you'd expect. For example, when I put in information for a family of 4 in California, "Gold" plans were between $850 and $1050 per month (and less if you qualify for a subsidy).
Marketplace plans are very expensive and they are the only plans that carry the features of the ACA, e.g., coverage for pre-existing conditions. You can buy non-marketplace plans for much cheaper (about $600/mo for a family plan, in my case, which is more aligned with what I used to pay), but they will not have the features Obamacare mandates. This is a good option if you don't already have pre-existing conditions.
You can also check into freelance co-ops, which sort of function like a union, in that they negotiate group insurance plans, etc., on behalf of their members, providing more of the benefits of a traditional employment situation. I just started looking into these again too, so I don't know who is good for this right now.
To be honest it's worth pricing out whether expatriating to not-America is more cost effective than buying health insurance here.
If I were to do a startup, it would be a no-brainer from a cost perspective to move, particularly because I already possess the requisite passports. It's just that I _want_ to be in the US, so any serious startup decision is going to presume that for me and my family.
Insurance should be for unexpected large expenses. Not routine, predictable health care. Treat that like your your rent, groceries, etc. i.e. something you budget for.
That's fine, budget for an annual physical and maybe a couple of sick visits. But that's not what's making people broke, and is not the risk people are concerned with. Unless you're young and healthy, there's very little that is predictable about health care. Also, HDHPs aren't available through the ACA market in every state - they're not in mine, for instance.
We need everyone in the risk pool, and we need to get costs under control. It is ridiculous that in the richest country in the world, someone could lose everything due to a medical condition. That's the wrong kind of lottery ticket out of the middle class.
just be sure to buy the new health insurance before the old one expires. this is absolutely critical.
It's said that most at home traders fail, but this is incorrect: they fail at making money, but they are successful at feeling like a trader. That is the goal; the money is secondary, which is why they fail at making it.
— The Last Psychiatrist, http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2014/03/who_can_know_how_much...
I would have to disagree with "that's a lot more valuable than a few more million dollars in the bank". Having a few million dollars in index funds (with some hedging) would also give you a Senior Developer salary, but would carry a lot less risk than running a software company. But I do understand what you're saying, and I certainly wouldn't complain if I had some passive income like that!
And we can also take in consideration that most of us won't leave those millions there. Getting fancy can be as risky as running a software company.
Comparing that with him working 6 months a year for the first part of his career and now living from two modest saas products seems pretty nice.
..and all the sitting-at-the-laptop photos are hilarious xD
The income you earn from owning your own business is worth at least twice as much as the equivalent income from dividends, interest, and capital gains.
However, in financial terms, these businesses are typically valued at 2x-4x annual revenue. So a business that gives you an income of $120k per year is worth far less than a safe $4M investment that gives you an average return of $120k per year.
If you could somehow prove that your business is extremely likely to produce at least $120k per year for the next 30 years, and with very little maintenance, then it would be worth closer to $4M.
Assuming you've come up with a different strategy that's netting better returns, would you care to share? And what is your strategy for hedging?
3-4% is the typical withdrawal rate that people use on the /r/financialindependence subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/wiki/faq#wiki...
My strategy would be to just put everything in a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund: https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/target-retirement...
It's cheaper and safer than a financial advisor, and you don't need to worry about rebalancing. I'd also throw a little bit of money into angel investing, but no more than 3%, and I'd expect to lose it all.
For hedging, I think once a year I would just buy some OTM puts for the S&P 500. A sane number might be something like 0.2% of your assets. If you're absolutely convinced that we're on the verge of a stock market crash, then you should still use 0.2%, because you're probably wrong.
I helped my dad with a scenario like this when he retired. You approach the problem so that you draw as much income as possible from tax exempt sources and use other vehicles for growth -- which preserves your cash generating capability later.
When opportunity strikes, you overload. For example, buying NY tax exempt (and other municipal bonds) when they were depressed during the recession has yielded a decade of enhanced, safe, tax free income.
Typical senior salaries are between 60-80k.
You are an inspiration, and I do agree, quality of life doesn't come with millions of $.
As we speak am in a 6 months transition, while leaving London and a good salary, to go back to my home-country and reside by the beach. Will be a tough one but certainly worth it! Glad to see that some people like you have achieved it!
You can't pay your bills with a 10 year average. There are down years.
More information: https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/wiki/faq#wiki...
Make the content free - attracting a large audience, and recommend the best online services that help with that particular vertical (affiliate marketing/lead generation).
The 2 hours per week is just summarizing anything new that happened that week.
This is not a get-rich-quick thing, took almost 10 years to get to this point, and huge amount of focus on this one thing - and I've truly become one of the leading experts in this vertical.
Would much rather run a content site that earned revenue, but cannot find a niche there ... I used to do this a decade ago and it was quite fun but the internet was so much quieter.
would you start an affiliate marketing site from scratch today? I would even hire you as a coach to help me find an opportunity.
>I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast
Also I like/strive for the minimal attention online business too however I wonder how that is running a business when you travel regarding environment/tech... like that photo of the beach/shack looking place I don't know... I guess I always picture "skyscrapers" and fancy things as "success" (I watch too much tv)
This has a lot of meanings for different people.
That ranges from $500 to $20000 per month depending on the location.
But that's a whole other discussion. Tack on "on the US West Coast but not at Facebook or Google" if it matters. (But of course the entire point of the original comment is that it doesn't :)
Unfortunately, there are still racial, cultural, and gender barriers. The sad truth is that someone from Russia, India, or Thailand would find it a lot easier to get high-paying work if they pretended to be a "digital nomad", and used a fake name and a fake profile picture. They would be doing the exactly the same work under a pseudonym.
I don't reduce my rates while living in countries like Thailand. I don't see why someone who is born in Thailand should charge so much less, if they can do the same work.
I realize that lots of people don't know this. And that lots of people do in fact make less than that. But that's often because they are leaving a lot of money on the table.
Sadly, the standard reaction upon learning how much this profession actually pays if you ask is to call whoever filled you in a liar. If you can get over the initial defensiveness and unwillingness to take on new information, you can get to the important next step where you actually go out and ask for that rate for your next gig.
You'll find that it's less than half what good clients will pay. Long term, not just one day a year, no foolin'.
I suspect those people get frustrated because what you're describing isn't something they experience in the real world. I know it kind of ticks me off when somebody says 'just ask for more money!' when I know damned well there's a lot more to it than that. Experiences vary greatly depending on the industry you're working for and the skills you have available to you.
> you can get to the important next step where you actually go out and ask for that rate for your next gig.
I did that once, based on reading what you and patio11 wrote. Long story short, not all companies can afford the rate you're describing and I'd rather take $50/h and pay the bills than hold out for the mythical client willing to pay more than $200/hr.
What else is there to it? The company can afford it, or it can't. If you ask for more, they probably won't cease negotiations just because they can't afford it. If you're in the pipeline with them for a proposal/SOW submission, you can make several attempts at the sale. If you're finding that most clients refuse your higher rate, there are two possibilities: 1) you have actually hit the ceiling you can achieve for this industry and niche, or 2) you're dealing with suboptimal clients.
I'm just okay at sales (or at least, I don't really like it but I do it), but I am particularly good at a lot of billable information security services and software development. Every time I increased my rates, I did it because I decided to on a whim, during the kickoff call, just to see what would happen. I too thought that the mythical five figure weekly rate was preposterous, until I got it.
I know this probably sounds horribly insensitive to you based on what you just said, but when patio11 et al talk about raising rates and people push back against the feasibility of doing it, there's an element of talking past each other going on. There are a set of premises involved in successfully raising rates to the "mythical" scale you're talking about:
1. You are in an industry where you know established players are billing these rates.
2. You have the market outreach, salesmanship or network to capture a percentage (even if its small) or the existing market share from these incumbents.
3. You have comparable skills (both technical and logistical) to the consultants or shops your clients could be going to.
4. You are able to differentiate yourself (this is not even strictly necessary, just helpful).
If you don't tick all or more of those premises, then yes, of course simply asking for higher rates is unlikely to consistently work. But if you re-read much of the advice that is put out by folks like Patrick, you see that the unspoken subtext of, "You need to be good at this" is there, where "this" means technical and sales skills. This is why he wrote Don't Call Yourself a Programmer in the first place - the technical skills are important but insufficient. The "willing to ask" part comes after the fact, and just boils down to reticence.
It's a straightforward formula. If you know other people are doing it, and you know you're as good as them at doing it, you can do it too. In my experience, most of the people who push back against this are either 1) not as skilled as they think they are (to be blunt, but I'm not saying this necessarily describes you) or 2) not very good at sales, generally due to a natural aversion. The point people like myself try to make is that if you have the technical skills, just getting over the sales difficulty will significantly improve your income.
> you're dealing with suboptimal clients.
It is entirely possible that a hypothetical freelancer charging restaurants $50 an hour for Ruby on Rails websites has maxed out on restaurants' willingness and ability to pay. I assert that the same technical skills command $200 an hour with better packaging for more sophisticated businesses, for example, pitching software companies on how to increase their sales (which can be done by writing fairly pedestrian Rails apps; "ActiveMailer and a for loop paid for my daughter's college education" is a sticker that more than one company owner could affix to their laptop).
You do not owe the economy your services vis a particular niche, particular technology, or particular customer profile. The economy is sending you an engraved invitation, delivered via letters as high as the hollywood sign, that people are willing to pay far, far more than $50 for services which are substantially similar in character to those sold by $50/hr technologists. One should rejigger one's business (prospecting strategies, client mix, etc) to expose oneself to those better opportunities.
> pitching software companies on how to increase their sales
That's not software consulting, that's sales consulting. If you have the skills to be a sales consultant, then you can make a whole hell of a lot more than $200/hr. Saying that sales consulting (a non-technical skill) applies evenly across the entirety of the tech industry is blatantly wrong.
Premise 1: Technical skills like programming are broadly generalizable to solving many problems applicable to many businesses.
Premise 2: Programming skills are too abstract to be easily marketable, and "programming" devoid of business framing or value-add is a poor pitch for billable hours.
Premise 3: "Programming", as a solution, is equally applicable to problems that are very lucrative to solve and problems that are not very lucrative (swap out "problems" for "clients" too).
Conclusion: If you are good at programming to the skills approximation of a mid-level engineer at a reputable company, you can charge five or six figures per month to solve problems for people.
If you want to argue about the semantics of this and call it "sales consulting" - sure, fine. I wouldn't, because that means that all software-enabled consulting becomes "sales consulting." The simple, empowering truth is that you can do the same job with the same skillset and earn more money by literally asking for it and choosing companies that can pay it. You do not need to be a sales wunderkind or rip people off.
If you use Rails to solve a local business' problem that was costing them $1 million/year, and you use Rails to solve another business' problem that was costing them $20,000/year, and you complete both in the same timeframe of a few weeks, target the first business and charge $20,000 per week. They are almost certainly not going to say no, and you will find that there is no race to the bottom for consultants solving six or seven figure problems.
Go read jasonkester's comment again. If this is what he meant, then he has failed at communicating it. He's saying most developers are leaving money on the table because they won't ask for it, then he suggests an hourly rate that maybe the top 1% of our industry can command. He's suggesting that most people can hit that rate and it's just not true. The top 1-10% can hit that, but by definition, that means 90-99% of developers will never be able to command that kind of money.
This is the essence of the problem: the true 1% of the industry in terms of skill (technical and business savvy) earn millions per year. But they are out of sight, and the 1% is artificially dropped down to $200/hour, because the market is not competing primarily on skills, it's competing on business savvy. Many of the most technically proficient people handicap themselves in negotiations, meanwhile many people less technically skilled but still very capable of delivering value earn more than them. There's no sales-y secret sauce here.
Yes it is. The average minimum wage in the US is $7.25. 8 hours work is less than $60, or about 40 minutes of what you call not a lot of money.
patio11 has a lot of good posts that talk about consulting rates: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2015/05/01/talking-about-money/
Let's assume their fill rate is only 50% of their total time. That's still ~$32k USD / year. This is great money even in a developed country like Russia where the median income is ~$5k/USD/year.
1. Yes, I'm skeptical, having worked with (or worse, after) a lot of overseas devs who charge in that range, or more. None were truly "senior".
Disagree about the rate. Depends on specialization, reputation, portfolio, experience, negotiation skills, and many other things.
Can you give ballpark? I hate it when people do this as senior dev has different range depending on location. 80-100K or 100-150k/year?
"the Basic at $299 per month for customers that want lists of sites mainly for the purpose of lead generation; Pro at $495 per month, suited more for users that work in an industry using a lot of A/B testing and comparison-type data; and Enterprise at $995 per month, which covers all bases and allows sales teams with multiple people to all use the platform at once. Brewer says that in terms of paying users on the platform there is a ‘few thousand’ and the split is about 40 percent Basic, 40 percent Pro and 20 percent Enterprise."
Similar thread a while ago 
Edit: specificity and formatting
It probably wasn't quite as advanced as BuiltWith (scale-wise), but it was similarly impressive how much output was crunched by one developer. I learned a lot from him.
My company does the same, it doesn't have a single employee, I outsource everything to different teams I have close relation. It just works, I do the business development and technical specifications, rest is handled by external teams.
Just because I hire somebody to clean my office, doesn't mean it's not a one-person company.
Also, there's a difference between hiring software engineers, who will be engaging in activities related to your core business, and hiring someone to clean.
If the owner does not, or is not able to build and maintain their software, some will consider this to not be a single person business (regardless of how the extra help is contracted).
csallen, if you're reading this, get Gary Brewer to do an interview for IndieHackers.
> I am in utter disbelief one person can do everything, even if I account for being an automation freak.
As someone who works in data acquisition, and someone who has evaluated BuiltWith along with other providers of tech install data, I can get a rough idea of how it stays as a one-man shop.
Whether deliberate or not, the more hairy type of signal analysis tends to be missing from BuiltWith's dataset. Unless it's exposed via DNS or direct webpage code, BuiltWith doesn't detect it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps it maintainable. Especially because you can use your historical data to identify changes in signals and be able to reactively update them as they change instead of use resources to proactively monitor all of them manually. But it limits it to a "public web facing" tech install base. You can greatly expand this by including secondary signals like parsing SEC files and job postings and whatnot, which will capture a lot of non web facing technologies. But those are a lot more complicated signals that require a lot of filtering/processing to reliably leverage, and would likely grow beyond a one-man shop like BuiltWith.
Salesforce is a classic example of this. It's generally an internally focused software, but if you use Partner Portals or Web2Lead forms, it'll be exposed publicly. Builtwith identifies 12.1k live sites using it and 30k historical sites using it. HGData, which provides similar data but uses a wider range of signals, can identify 92k sites/companies currently using it.
> crawler needs to handle tons of edge cases
Not particularly. If rendering the page, sure. But when doing pattern recognition within the source code itself, edge cases that'd bork rendering are mostly moot.
I'm not at all disparaging BuiltWith - it's a solid product for what it is and a bargain for the price charged. But it's also a very limited product which, when destructured, hints at a lot of decisions made with the intention of being maintainable as a one-man shop. In the space it occupies, it also has a really solid pricing model if you can get by with using the limited dataset it provides. But if you need visibility into any internal software or tools or hardware, it has much more limited use.
This can be useful for market research, to see what technologies are being used and by whom. It could also be used as a lead generation tool.
Example: If I am creating a new email list tool, I could find websites (via builtwith) that are using a competitor and send cold email with specific comparisons between my new service and their current one, or asking what they like/dislike about their current tool.
Markus Frind is probably the biggest. He spent 5 years (2003-2008) working on Plenty of Fish, and at that point it was bringing in about $5M/yr and had 3 employees.
When the site sold in 2015 for $575 million it was 70 employees, but he still owned 100% of the company.
Markus Persson would be another possible option, for the first $10-20M that Minecraft brought in he was the only person (aside from a contracted musician). And then for a while after that, it was him and his friend who was hired to manage the business side so he could focus on the programming work.
>This could be telling the story of IE users being murdered out of existence.
I have deep respect for Markus Frind being able to scale so well.
Still I feel there is some missing ingredient in the early growth of PoF.
What really happened before the big monthly 500k Adsense checks started coming in?
Cue eBay(it was not Pez dispensers, it was to large extent newsgroups spam), cue AirbnB, cue Facebook in Harvard years, cue every "growth hacking" story.
There is always some missing piece in the success story(ala Balzac).
Minecraft on the other hand seems the purest single person success story.
Took me some effort to built, but it's on autopilot now.
Nonetheless, the figures I gave are for 2016. Since then, there has indeed been a fall in all numbers, largely because a site like this will always be overly reliant on Google and, for whatever reason, Google favours the site less this year than it did the year before.
At its peak, the site had approximately 53,000 daily visitors.
PHP 7.1 has given a huge boost in terms of the performance you can get from a cheap VPS.
Any suggestions or strategies you could share?
With the traffic I had, I did a lot of A/B testing to maximise conversions.
Luckily, eBay's API is very fast, but I also worked hard to keep the total response time of my code within a reasonable range.
He (alone?) does the actual "work" that brings in the bread. The other people could be considered contractors. I mean, a single SaaS app developer still doens't "work alone" when you consider that she might be buying services like hosting and/or payment processing.
It's hard to really find the line between alone and not.
To further blur things, in my examples for a celebrity, agents still contribute to bringing in the actual work yet (as you defined) yet they literally are an external service one would pay for. And what about the script writing? Directors, studio editors, cameramen and sound technicians? They are all creating the product too - without which The Rock wouldn't be in business.
I think if there is one thing we can agree on, it's that even the most fiercely independent of people still depend on the work of others. Nobody can work entirely in isolation. Or at least without themselves living in isolation. But that's really more a philosophical tangent rather than an answer to the question originally posted to HN :)
I like philosophical arguments! ^_^
* Sometimes it's done out of necessity so the changes are glossed over (Dumbledore changed characters due to Richard Harris sadly passing away, or when actors/actresses get fired from soap operas),
* sometimes it's made a feature (eg Doctor Who regenerations)
* and sometimes they'll just introduce a new leading character to replace the old one (eg the crime comedy "Death in Paradise" which has had 3 different leading inspectors as the previous actors have left the show).
Few people, if indeed anyone, are irreplaceable in their careers.
To give another example, Cristiano Ronaldo is said to have been the highest paid sports star last year, with estimated earnings of $88 million.
As laumars pointed out there's the question of whether you include assistants.
A singer writing his own songs or an actor always looking for roles to play might be a business, while typically they are controlled by a record company or movie studio, which again isn't really like running a business on your own.
A little known fact about it is one of his replies is this:
we're in a similar space -- http://www.getdropbox.com (and part of the yc summer 07 program) basically, sync and backup done right (but for windows and os x). i had the same frustrations as you with existing solutions.
let me know if it's something you're interested in, or if you want to chat about it sometime.
drew (at getdropbox.com)
I guess no one managed to top that comeback in the last decade (thread is 3600 days old!).
1. Staying in Canada,
2. Doing work which I found interesting and meaningful, and
3. Earning more money than Google offered me,
and I'm hitting all three.
> people making millions
> It's made me think who has been the most successful at building a company as a sole proprietor.
I started Airwindows about ten years ago specifically because friends of mine were getting jerked around by a large-ish audio DSP plugin company, and intentionally targeted a then absurdly cheap pricepoint. Ran it for ten years, and transitioned to a Patreon model when my payment processor went out of business, always DRM-free, always scorning concerns of 'piracy', the purpose always being democratization of tools. It's still working, I've got a decent amount of influence in my industry sector, and I'm seeing hardware-based startups taking a similar approach.
My current plans are to extend outwards into an additional website/identity dedicated to being interdisciplinary, and be the primary resource for this new model: the idea is that as we move beyond money as a primary metric, interconnectivity and significance become central to what 'wealth' is in the future. So long as subsistence is assured and the flow of money/gifting is enough to keep developing creatively, the important thing becomes 'how authoritative' you can be, and though this has traditionally expressed itself through money directly it could also be expressed in terms of 'FU relevance' or the ability to steer the zeitgeist.
If I manage that (not saying I'm fully there, but I'm probably at least halfway), does that count as successful if my choices intentionally ignore the accumulating of money? I'm convinced money is increasingly irrelevant to real significance, especially as we move towards general AI. If we haven't better optimized purposefulness by the time we reach AI escape velocity, we'll have a serious problem.
Happens every day on YouTube, in a sense. Think 'unboxing videos' or perhaps 'endorsement deals' is a better analogy. If you can get enough social influence, you can work with technology/capabilities far outside your normal 'money' conditions, because your importance is being weighted directly. You pay taxes on such gifts because the government rightly sees this as compensation, but it didn't go through a money/abstraction stage. If you were collaborating on some creative work using but not owning tools of extraordinary value, you probably wouldn't even be taxed on it, but both sides still benefit: you don't retain the tools but you produce work on them in which you have an ownership stake.
Things like customer support is outsourced to other startups, and of course the artists on the platform don't work for me, but could be if the company was structured differently (it's structured as a marketplace).
It probably wasn’t the wisest idea to stay solo for so long, but the freedom of not having employees made me very reluctant to hire anyone again. The only reason I chose to hire is that the business' growth forced me make the decision to either turn away customers or hire staff. The people I have are great, but I do miss the days of doing everything myself without having to explain why something is important.
Is it the same as saying eight figures or nine figures?
For the purpose of this thread it really is not that important how much money I have made.
Bootstrapped social networking site doing multiple 5-figures/month.
It's a paid membership community - https://join.nomadlist.com/
Over 1MM annual revenue https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/sidekiq
As long as other open source contributors are not payed for their contributions, I would still qualify it as a single person company. It's just that the company's approach is a little bit different than the traditional one.
My measure of success isn't the money (though I love money), but the independence and freedom it gives me.
I thought it was pretty inspirational that he managed to keep at it for 4 years solo even when his grandma and himself started to doubt that he would ever ship.
Secondly, the best way to make solid, reliable money is to have a niche, without competition. So, you keep your mouth shut.
You'll probably most likely notice them in small, industry-oriented niches. Or... after they grow larter than one-person.
To give an answer: https://balsamiq.com/products/mockups/
He actually did an interview with Rolling Stone  where he told his "story".
There was some podcast or something I remember listening to guy said he was worth $15K/hr or something haha man, I am a grub
So even if he is alive, could he ever reap the benefits of those coins?
Hopefully he mined with different wallets so that he's been able to sell smaller amounts of coins without anyone knowing that it was him.
I think it makes around $40K to $50K per month. Over the last few years, I've seen it grow from around $10K to $50K. That slow steady SaaS growth is pretty inspiring.
Just a side note, most mediators are former lawyers. After many years of practice, they seek a better way to resolve conflicts. The pay isn't bad either.
One more thing. Randy is actually one of the best mediators in the world. After the 9/11 attacks in New York, Randy was called in to mediate and arbitrate the case with the insurance companies and tenants. After 2 years, they were able to come to an agreement and the resulting funds allowed for the area to be rebuilt.
Apparently, ranking well for certain keywords (mostly web hosting and website builders) can be very, very lucrative.
But they're easy enough to find. Just Google lucrative keywords like "best hosting" and you'll see them
Guy quit his job a year or two ago to develop this full-time and seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I use the client all the time as a developer.
Sad considering how sweet the app is.
Nathan Barry (http://nathanbarry.com/) the guy who started convertKit https://convertkit.com/
But they have staff.
Large single-person startups? https://smallbiztrends.com/2014/07/successful-one-person-sta...
("don't try to repeat this trick at home" disclaimer goes here)
I personally know people that made millions from creating software products and companies. But I do know nobody that did(or does it) it alone.
In fact, I "made millions" myself whatever that means starting with software(a million dollars is way less than 10 years ago because of inflation so it is not that much, specially if you life in a expensive place), but I made a hell lot of work and found colleagues along the way.
IMHO you should never focus on money. Money is just a tool for exchanging value. You should focus on creating value, even if at first it gives you little money. Because of innovation dilemma most things that create real value give you very little money first( Do you know how much money the Apple Store did the first year?)
In my opinion your priority should be finding a social circle that will help and understand you. If you have a business that means entrepreneurs. They will understand and support you like no one else. HN is virtual, you need real people around.
For me success is the ability to be free in my life, made my own decisions in my business, I could write on HN, or go climb a mountain when people is working, or travel a new country, or the ability to only invest on business that are ethical for me.
If earning more money means not being free, I will decline the offer, in fact I decline offers every single day. Why should I do it? To become a 80 years old billionaire? To have everybody know me so I have to live isolated against paparazzis or criminals wanting to kidnap my children because they know I am rich?
But your values could be different. Your priorities could be to show off, exert power over other people, of go meet interesting people, or have extreme experiences or send your children to elite schools, whatever is success for you.