It isn't that hard, it is especially not that hard if you approach it like he did and grow very slowly and keep your costs down. I did the same thing with my best friend years ago, starting off while still having a job, then making a leap when things were slightly vetted.
Best decision of my life. I've travelled the world, set my own schedules, always worked on what I wanted to work on and had a far more interesting set of challenges than I would have staying coding at another startup.
The key is not to aim for the moon, aim to pay the bills. We reduced our expenses to $5k (pre tax) a month, then set that as our goal our first year. It was achievable, but more importantly we eventually grew to making far, far more than that. But I've still always kept my expenses low because I've always wanted the freedom to do what I wanted.
I'm now in Africa, doing a startup here because it is new and exciting and satisfies my need to do good. Never would have been here if I had stayed at the day job.
(no offense intended to patio11:)
Although, the number of people that I know that learned Japanese in America is, like, two. I would say that makes him exceptional in that regard.
See this blog post for the whole story of how I got here:
I should mention I first saw txtGate here on HN because the developer is a member. More of a proof of concept than anything else, but a great idea.
I wish all trial software did this!
A definite usability improvement and just generally better for both parties. The usual email with the reg key for later use should also be sent, of course, but saving that hassle for me when I just want to get on with using what I've just bought is a very nice touch.
I thought "Dang, that is great", implemented it, and then started looking for a way to extend it without requiring people to read the instructions for copying.
This was an excellent read.
Favorite bit from the article:
"Prior to running a business I ran a WoW guild. It was rather substantially more work and more drama than running a business, for dramatically worse loot."
I prefer taking the opposite tack [+] with regards to simplicity: there is indeed such a thing as simple. Your business, on day one, is simple. It will gradually become more complex as you learn things and learn what the business needs, but you don't need to let the complexity coming down the pike scare you away from starting something today. (And compared to many businesses -- from megacorps down to a lot of the startups around here -- BCC is still pretty simple, even four years in. My best marketing strategy can be explained in three Powerpoint slides, all the code I have is under 10kloc, and the core customer need is pretty much unchanged.)
[+] Some day I will learn this English idiom properly, but until I do, thank you guys for correcting me on it.
Hopefully the context of it helps, taking "the opposite tack" is changing your orientation to reach towards the same goal on a different approach when you're getting off-course with your current approach.
If you take the opposite tack, then you may well find clean wind, or better wind, and you may also be able to approach them on starboard tack, forcing them to give way.
Don't follow your competitor - take the opposite tack.
It's impressive, to say the least, far more so than many of the 'my feature just got funded' items and if you keep at it you'll do very well in the long run.
Keep an eye on your savings, make sure you plan for rainy days as well, they're inevitable.
Q: Can you share the key metrics you watch on a
daily basis? Why are they important to you?
A: I have published a variety of stats but I don’t watch
metrics on a daily basis because I don’t make
metrics-based decisions on a daily basis, and absent
making decisions watching metrics is only as
productive as playing WoW.
> what are you working on which is more niche than bingo cards for elementary schoolteachers, anyhow?
Besides the very honest and insightful write-up (thank you!), this last sentence is worth its weight in gold. It's too easy to make excuses for not following your goals and blame something other than your own lack of motivation/focus.
It's true of course that children are the handiest excuse around. But it's also true that once you start down the job-and-family highway it can be exceedingly difficult to get onto an exit. The implication here -- that if you're not pursuing some major third thing, it's because you're lazier or care less than people who (under considerably different circumstances) are pursuing that thing, is glib.
While there are ways out of this dilemma, they require more than re-sorting your todo list and cutting back on the online poker. Failing that, the default rule seems to be "Job, family, school, startup, pick two".
Personally, I realized that (a) I can't live with the idea of working at a big corp until I retire and (b) if I wish to remain married and connect with my kids (you only have 10 years!) I don't have the time to do this on the side. Given those two truths I decided to lock in our expenses (i.e. making more money doesn't help my goal if we just spend it) and switch to consulting. As a consultant I make enough that I can periodically take 6 months off to give my start up ideas another go. If the business gets some traction then maybe I can stay off longer than 6 months. And as a consultant I don't have to "quit" when it's "working sabbatical" time.
Of course this could just be due to my current project being particularly favourable, hence my interest in start-up ideas to try once it ends...
But the "free" healthcare makes it a tough decision.
Personally I wouldn't want to work in the US right now. The worker protections are practically non-existent (advantageous if you own a company but if you work for one, not so much).
Health care has always been problematic in the US but I suspect by your comment you mean that you don't like that you have to have it now. Not having insurance would be an insane level of risk to put on your family (especially when coupled with the risk of a start up). One of the bigger mistakes the US did with health care IMO was letting companies pay it for the employees. That creates a terrible lock in incentive and removes health care from the person's budget so when you do wish to try something else (e.g. a start up) you're not prepared for the sudden jump in expenses.
It's pretty common.
I do take minor exception to the comment about content quality. With the proviso that I'm making bingo cards to teach lessons to school kids, I'm usually making pretty darn good bingo cards. Search for [biology bingo] some time and compare my site to the other options.
I don't think cushy is the word he'd use to describe it.
Give Nginx a spin if you can. I use 300MB VPSes running Nginx + PHP and have memory to spare to run the dropbox daemon, lightly loaded mysql, etc.
The simpler of these (e.g. pound) take about as much time to set up as scrolling through your apache config looking for some mis-set option.
Certainly a much bigger market than elementary school teachers, while clearly continuing to leverage the same key skills of making a mundane task automatic, and metric testing to consistently enhance the real world user experience. Perfect case study (assuming the market eats it up, of course!).
Hope that helps, have really enjoyed reading your posts.
It wasn't clear to me from the article, but it seems that a lot of the 'syncing' of information between databases and services was programmed by hand by you. How much time did you spend on this and if you had to re-setup your infrastructure, would you go with a service that does most of this for you (if one even exists)?
You can say that again. I am starting to feel the overload.