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Ask HN: I'm lonely. Are there any video chat support groups for solo founders?
293 points by danschumann on Nov 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments



Personally, whenever I feel lonely I would go volunteer and help people. It makes you feel connected and really puts things into perspective (like, even if your startup doesn't do well, you would still be surrounded by people who enjoys you as a person).

Every Saturday, my wife and I volunteer at our local library (northside branch in santa clara) to teach people how to code.

We've been doing that for almost a year with surprising results. Now I'm leading about 10 engineers that I've taught from the ground up and they are happily building features for my app for minimum wage (temporarily). I'm hoping that one of my apps take off and I can pay everyone great salary.


I trust you're doing for the good, yet it reminded me a story I heard some time ago.

Story went like that: I'm a gold miner. Gold mining is cool, everybody wants to gold mine. So I'll teach you FOR FREE how to gold mine, but during first year I offer you to gold mine for me at minimum wage. It's a shity goldmining you're doing, as you're newbie, so that excuses minimum wage, right? And I'm doing teaching for "free", right? There were hundreds I trained to goldmine and they didnt accept my WORK (sacred word) offer. They didnt also goldmine afterwards. I call it free service and in addition for my goldmining minions get 'feeling good' from it. Others call it sieve just to find enough 'wanna be gold miner' newbies.


You make it sounds like the big corporations that pay developers good salaries are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. Apple, Google, Amazon, UBISoft, Nintendo, etc. are just as "exploitative". Part of developing your career as a software developer is knowing what you are worth at any point in time, and what your options are, and when to switch to a better option. I get the feeling the parent poster actually cares about maintaining a longer-term mutually beneficial relationship with his student/employees, which is already better than a lot of corporations out there.


Plenty of people pay lots of money to learn how to code. If someone is being paid to learn and work, isn’t that a pretty good deal?


It depends on what the exact deal is. I'm sure that in this particular case it is a good deal, however I've seen such jobs where they literally exploited these poor people.


yeah. My deal with them is to train them to become great engineers. No paperwork needed to enforce anything. They work with me 100% by choice and they know they could be getting a much higher salary somewhere else (and free to leave anytime).


If the only way to get a non-shit gold mining job is to have a few months experience in a 'real' gold mine, then the minimum wage job is well worth doing.

I started back in uni doing software dev for McDonald's wages. By the time I graduated I had two years' experience which got me my first 'real' job.


Volunteering is awesome and I'm glad you have found a niche and are recommending it.

For me, it's been excellent too but I chose something physical, challenging, outdoors and completely unrelated to tech. Selfishly, it's a needed change from sitting in front of a computer but still gives the satisfaction of helping people in deep ways.

But yes, directly helping people is deeply rewarding and satisfying.


That's a great idea. I could probably start that up pretty easily because I know there's a need.


Where are you based? If you are in San Francisco, let me know if I can be of help. (my HN name @ gmail, or google my name).


I'm from Oshkosh, WI. There aren't many tech meet ups around here.


You would do better to look in the Appleton area if you don't want to travel far, otherwise Milwaukee/Madison could be worth a trip (especially conferences) and Chicago should have everything.

Rob Walling is in MN right now, might be worth asking this question of him via his podcast, Startups for the Rest of Us. I assume he mostly interacts with his existing network remotely now though, not sure he could offer advice on creating such a network without bootstrapping in-person.


Email me--in my profile


Good luck man! Let me know if you need help. My email is song at garageScript.org


You can talk to me if you need help. My email is abhikandoi2000 at gmail.com


this is a bit of an awkward question but.. have you ever come across anyone who you tried to teach but in the end was just not suited for coding? can everyone learn to code?


Not everyone can learn to code (well), imo. But, that's not an elitist coding-is-harder-than-other-things statement -- it's just the truth for any discipline.

Not everyone can draw/paint; not everyone can sing; not everyone can learn new languages proficiently; not everyone is good with numbers; not everyone is good at teaching; not everyone is good with working with other people; not everyone is athletic. And by this I mean that some will naturally be good at learning and ultimately mastering the above list of things, while others have to work much harder to get even close, with a lower ceiling.

Most importantly though, it's not up to someone else to decide whether you're good at something or not. Everyone should have an opportunity to take class or learn a subject and find out for themselves if that's something that they're good at or naturally inclined to. And if they're not good at it, it's not the end of the world because there is something else that's probably more suitable for them that's just as important to this world as coding.

The trouble we run into is that we often think of programming or coding as something more important or more sacred than other disciplines, when in reality it's just another in a long line of disciplines that takes practice and a little bit of natural talent.


Everyone can learn how to code. Not everyone might be able to have the skills to be a great coder, but that happens with any discipline.


Any one can learn to code it isn't difficult to learn at all. Just like any one can learn math or english. What makes the difference is what level you can achieve. Just like math goes from elementary school to college level coding has a similar pattern where certain people get stuck in different areas. Hello world would be elementary level building large scalable enterprise application would be college level. You don't have to be able to build monsters applications that require knowing so much computer science that even physics and high level mathematics get involve. You can be a programmer that can build simple website that pays the bills. A entry level programmer doing simple website work makes $40,000 a year mattering your location and such. A senior arch developer makes around $400,000 a year also mattering location and such. Even some specialize areas pay their programmers $1,000,000 a year for what they can do. Some of the entry level people may make it to the top of the pile and some programmers will never leave that entry level position. I even know some programmers that are great, but decide to go another route. That has nothing to do with computers, because they get tired/burnout. Then I know some guys that are horrible programmers, but they enjoy it so much they just keep at it not caring.


Great answer. How does one find their level?


"Know thyself". I don't know exactly what you mean by the question. That was just my first thought. If you are asking where you place in the spectrum of the guy that builds simple websites vs the guy that build large scale enterprise applications the only way you will know is keep on trying till you succeed. Some would argue failure is the measurement, but in truth we fail all the time. Failing is the easiest thing for one to accomplish so it could never be the metric we use to measure. Failing repeatedly till we achieve success is what life is about. Every time we run into a problem or new situation is a chance to grow to expand and to achieve something we couldn't the day before. The whole whats the difference between the master vs his apprentice? The master has already failed a million times while the apprentice has only failed a handful of times. The master never cared about reaching greatness he just cared about taking care of the challenge that was placed in front of him when it came. Those challenges are what turn him into a master and the same shall happen to you. The level you speak of is the spoon in the matrix it only exist in your mind the second you realize that then you can bend the spoon.


By continually trying more difficult things. Of course, you may find that as you try more and more difficult things, your skills continue to grow. So your level can keep getting higher and higher. Also, note that some people reach higher levels in specific areas. One person might be amazing at low-level, highly optimized C++ or assembly, while another person might be amazing at building deep learning systems, while a third person might be great at designing hugely scalable and robust distributed web applications. Be curious, try learning a lot of things, find out what interests you, and what you're good at, and see how far you can go down the various rabbit holes.


In my experience of teaching I have to say it depends.

Basic coding is rather simple and basically everyone can do that.

Actually writing/designing larger applications is a skill most people don't have the time/patience to learn, similar to how most people can write on hackernews/twitter/facebook etc, but only few people can write a novel.

Apart from the sequential understanding of how a computer operates, not everyone can express the goal in code that is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Meaning 'easy' to read/follow, simple, expressive etc. And even less people can document/describe what happens, and even less people can see how the code they uses resources (cpu cycles,wait times,storage,etc) and thus cannot optimize appropriately.


I won't mine being mentored by you. I can code but I lack some of the high level understanding you mentioned.


As long they are interested in coding, they can code.

It may take longer if they're not as adept. They can try some strategies to assist coding, such as books, checklists, pair programming, etc.


Imagine a graph where one axis is how interested you are and the other axis is how quickly you pick it up. There is a diagonal line the separates those that will persist long enough to be a good coder.


This perfectly explains my own reaction/opinion when I started reading the comment that started this subthread.

Worded much better than I could have put it.


It's takes a lot more than interest. Programming requires intelligence. A lot of people are not very intelligent.


If you compare someone with quite a few of the ai bots out there (image recognition, chat bots), you will realize how intelligent they actually are. Every human person is like a super AI machine.


Yes. If a person is able to do things sequentially (get up, brush teeth, etc etc), be able to decide, (if I do this, then I do that), they can code


That's only true for very small, commercially useless values of "can code".


however useless of a code someone writes, they might have had alot of fun writing it. Coding can be alot of fun, and everyone can learn it.


love your positive attitude. i think my weakness as a javascript peer mentor/teacher is that sometimes i get frustrated when people dont get what I am trying to teach and its either i am a bad teacher or they aren't learning it right. and constantly at the back of my mind i'm wondering if its worth my time/effort to keep trying to teach the person or if they should go ask someone else who is better at teaching.


Since you asked, I'll try to share what I've learned. You can become incredibly effective if you invest in the skills to become a better teacher. Usually if someone is not learning, its the teacher not doing a good job.

1. Test - before starting any topic, make sure your student has a grasp of the prerequisites by giving them simple tasks. Just because you have taught them the prerequisites a week ago does not mean that they didn't forget.

2. When you are teaching them, talk as little as possible. The only thing you should be saying is the concepts.

3. Ask lots of questions. Ie: What is an object (expect them to repeat what you told them); What happens if (insert 10x different cases). Teach by asking.

4. Set 0 expectations. If you get frustrated its because you have expectations. Many people have self confidence issues. Being disappointed will cause your students emotional stress and they will not be able to learn. They might start to avoid asking you questions...

5. Listen. Many times, your students could be saying what you wanted to hear, but worded differently. Their analogy could have the same concept as yours but very different. Learn to recognize what students are saying.

I can't emphasize #3 enough. When I teach, I never say more than 2 sentences without asking a question. Because you quickly realize that people have a hard time retaining more than 2-3 sentences at a time.

You should 100% invest your time to get better at teaching. Teaching is a skill that schools robs from our childhood growing up. It helps you sympathize with people better, understand people better, communicate with people better, etc., all pretty real skills to have.


these are a really good set of principles. saving these to reflect on.


What fields do you have knowledge in (okay, JS, but more specifically?), and how much free time do you have?

You have a bit of a goldmine here: there are _guaranteed_ a ton of people on here who wouldn't mind a bit of private tuition. Bam, instant feedback.


Agreed, volunteer! That’s the best way by far to combat loneliness.

That being said a founder support group is an awesome thing. I really want to go to a VR one if such exists.


Might I ask what kind of people attend your classes?

I am thinking on volunteering on an institution which helps people with less social resources.

Your idea sounds like a good way to give those people more possibilities, as you can learn to code without paying anything if you have an internet connection and enough motivation.

What I'm afraid of is asking too much from them. Did your 10 engineers start with some background in computer science or math?


I try to get people from government assistance (people who really need it). Recently CalWorks agreed to pay each student I take from them $13/hour for up to 6 months, so that really helps lighten the load on my wallet. All of them come with very little computer knowledge, let alone math or cs background. One of them never took a math class in high school.

Don't ask too much from them if your goal is to help them. People with less social resources have confidence issues (even though most don't show it) so compliment them frequently and make sure to tell them what they are doing well. Let them take their time!

What works for for me is that I have my students teach more beginner students so it lightens my teaching load and I can focus leading the engineering team. If someone is having a hard time understanding something, they just keep teaching that topic over and over again until they get it.


Thank you for posting this.

I've five weeks into working for myself and avoiding loneliness has become a key task for me every day. I wouldn't say I'm succeeding at it, to be honest. I know I could join a coworking space but I question whether it's worth $400+ a month when I wouldn't be able to attend the networking events since I have a family and need to be home at night. (And I don't need meeting space, and have a desk at home, and etc.)

I've started going to Whole Foods to work during the day just to be around other people. Not that we necessarily interact, but, you know, it's something.


And with one comment on Hacker News I think I understand why people do work at Starbucks.

Not sure why that never dawned on me.


I get up at 5am every day to go to Starbucks at 6am every day. The "stillness buzz" of my apartment bugs me. I go to Starbucks and ignore everyone - but I still feel part of the mix.

I could, you know, go to the office, but everone interrupts me there. It's not lonely, but unproductive.

The trick is to be productive, but to feel like a human in the mix. For me, Starbucks does that.


For those bothered by silence but also - at times - annoyed by music: https://coffitivity.com/

Some kind of optimized noise is a weird concept, but I've found that it really works, from time to time. Especially if I'm doing something that requires a great deal of concentration rather than just "production".


Focusmate is a middle ground of sorts - social but without leaving home. https://www.focusmate.com/

The core of the UX is the Focusmate session, a structured, 50-minute video interaction, where you and another user act as accountability partners for one another.

You'll find lots of solopreneurs as well as a handful of sole founders, but above all, you get human interaction without compromising productivity.

Disclaimer - I'm the founder. I was a sole founder for a lonnnng time and doing these sessions was my saving grace.



Brain.fm works for me.


Thanks!


I've found being around others helps tremendously compared with working solo. I believe there have been academic studies into this as well. Being around other people who are "productive" (whether they really are or not) helps my mindset. I would study in the quiet chunks of the library with other people around me, particularly leading up to big exams.


So all those people sitting there because they're lonely and want to be around other people ... But they never talk to one another. Weird.


I've been a regular at a couple of different Starbucks locations over the past few years, and surprisingly, communities of people do develop over time. There are other regulars that you start to recognize, say hi to as you stand in line, and catch up with. I've met fascinating people by working at Starbucks. Engineers, managers, musicians, nurses, all friendly and equally happy to have someone else to talk to. Plus, there's the baristas, who I've also found pleasant to talk to.

Some days, though, you are alone at Starbucks, but it's a different kind of alone than working at home all day every day. You're surrounded by people, and when the alternative is zero social contact during your work day, it can make a difference.


Or ... maybe not lonely. But want to feel a lively "buzz" that isn't from music or putting on movies in the background.

Maybe weird. But I don't like sitting in my quiet apartment alone working. (I'm not particularly lonely - I just like the energy better when I'm "out")


I just wish we had something like this still - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_coffeehouses_in_the_...


I can't disagree. But in the absence of Ben Franklin, I still need to get out of the house to go find a place with "buzz" to work...


In some theoretical parallel universe somewhere, and maybe even in the future of this one, I'm imagining people with private (tiny) airplanes flying out to some backwater dot county nobody knows about, just to code at one of the coffee shops there.

Because people are really forward in rural areas.

Hm, now I see the bugs in this idea; poor internet speed for one, compounded by the fact that said person is likely going to want to move out there permanently...


We are not solitary animals; we evolved to be part of tribes and bands. There's a part of us that's just not happy unless there's other humans around.

And it's perfectly cool if we never interact with them. That's fine. Maybe sometimes all we want is to have someone around to be faster than when a lion comes out of the shadows and takes the slowest person down. Even if that, or some metaphorical equivalent of it, is exceedingly unlikely in a coffee shop.


For me personally it is just about beeing under people. I would hate if people think this invites them to talk


Not only SB, but that is a significant part of the WeWork business imo. I feel it myself.


For everyone commenting on going to a café every day, you'll end up spending the $400 on coffee, cakes whathaveyou and you won't have the guarantee of a quiet, thoughtful space when you need it. I needed some company some time ago and found a co-working space that I treated like a café - the coffee included, I brought my own lunch, and even though I'm not particularly sociable it was still much, much healthier than working alone and over time I got on fairly well with a group of people I still consider friends, though I've long since left. Have a look if there is something around you, you never know. And even just the looking gets you out of the house for a valid reason!


Well, you don't have to constantly be buying coffee, or stay there the entire day. I find about 2 hours and a single $2 cup twice a day to be perfect for re-energizing and getting some human contact.


This logic led me to join WeWork for a while and it was quite horrible. It was loud and WeWork didn’t care. Seemed like they need to provide a place for your average person, which makes sense, but that average person is a sale/marketing/design type who won’t be bothered by noise. Not a good option for people trying to focus. Not to mention the coffee type never changed.


I did the coworking space thing a few years ago, it wasn't worth it. No one there was doing anything interesting. There really wasn't much conversion. It was a waste of money for me. I can work alone for a long time. It's just the loneliness that slowly builds up over a long time from not talking about the project with peers walking the same path that sucks.


I think it probably really depends on the co-working space. I was at one for a few months that made a point of socializing. They had a portion of space dedicated to meetups from 7pm. They had 4-5 meetups a week. They organized dinner outings. One person organized a programmer meet up where he'd give out a short problem, have everyone solve it in their language of choice, then we'd have each person explain their solution, it was enlightening so see why each person made their choices.

I don't know how to know beforehand if a co-working space has lots of social activities or not, maybe see if they have an event page or a FB page showing past events.


Hmmmmm.

It sounds like "coworking space" and "coder makespace" got lumped together, and need to be teased apart to clarify what to expect.


A good friend of mine who is a solo entrepreneur (...in a different city) said this was their experience too. They recommended finding a good coffee shop. They've been going to the same one for months and said that it slowly builds a culture of accountability and familiarity among the regulars.

Solves the socialization part, though not the lack of feedback and discussion.


I’ve been solo for 4 years. I never once worked outside of my home office. At times it was very lonely but I didn’t do anything about it. I started a slack group for freelancers as a water cooler and advice type of place. It’s sometimes active but most of the time pretty quiet. Anyone looking for a place to just chat is welcome to join, founder or freelancer I don’t care, we are a mixed bunch: freelancehangout.com


If you fail at working from home it's going to cost you a hell of a lot more than $400 a month. Time to move on that ASAP. Later when you're in a better place you can think about alternatives.


What does this mean?


If you make 20 $/h and you can only work 80 a month because you're lonely but you would be able to work 160 at a coffee shop then 400 bucks turns into 1600


> I know I could join a coworking space but I question whether it's worth $400+ a month

I'm not sure whether this is available in every country/big city, but I've been working from Seats2Meet [1]. You can work there for free, and although it can get noisy, for me, having some buzz around me helps against loneliness and doesn't impact my productivity that much.

[1] http://seats2meet.com/


I feel like good mental health and the side benefits of networking are totally worth the 400 dollars if it doesn’t put you in financial insecurity.


When I worked from home full time for a few years I found the gym to be a great place for social interaction. I would work at home in the morning, then gym, and work in a coffee shop in the afternoon. If you keep a schedule you’ll see the same people and eventually have some people to randomly chat with.


Sounds like my life. I'll wave to you next time I'm at whole foods.


This comment may be appreciated or not, but, I find (for myself) that taking Thanksgiving dinners and birthday cakes and pies and (often disasterous) dinners to "old folks homes" to be good for me.

I get to meet some people outside of my realm. That also appreciate me. That want to talk. Not about engineering stuff.

Just show up with a pie and a smile - and ... you realize that: 1) everything isn't so bad, 2) we're all going to be here (perspective), and 3) they know more about life than you do.

Give it a try. I've been doing it for 20 years. After my girlfriend at the time ended up a paraplegic from an accident, she ended up in rehab at one of these places. Other than her brain, she got better and left. I keep going back. YMMV.

EDIT: My point is-- you aren't the only lonely person out there. Sometimes you have to take the first step to make a friend. Even outside of your realm of experience.


What you're feeling is so very common among solo founders. I'm glad you're talking about it here. It is one of the most important conversations founders need to be having. Isolation has the power to undo you and your business. Like others have said co-working, masterminds, volunteering- those are all helpful ways to connect to other founders. We at https://zenfounder.com/ run ZenTribe groups for founders. Our groups are small and co-facilitated by me (a psychologist) and an experienced founder. There's also https://mastermindjam.com/ which helps people find a mastermind. Smallish conferences are a helpful way to make some friends that you can keep in touch with: https://rhodiumweekend.com/ and http://www.microconf.com/ are oriented toward connecting people and encourage people to form masterminds. It's so important to reach out. Don't stop trying to figure out how to get connected.



Loneliness is a vicious self-perpetuating cycle. It makes you depressed, which makes you want to wallow in self-pity, which makes people not want to be around you, which isolates you, which make you lonelier, which makes you more depressed.

The only way to break the cycle (and I apologize if this sounds harsh, but it's really the only way) is to just give yourself a swift kick in the pants and fucking DO something about it, and I don't mean posting on HN about how lonely you are. You have to actually GO somewhere where there are people and INTERACT with them in a positive way. Smile. Introduce yourself. Take interest in them. Listen. It hardly matters where you go or what you do. Just pick a random meetup near you and go. Or volunteer somewhere. Or just go to a random homeless person and offer to buy them a meal. The key is to project a positive attitude. This will be exceptionally difficult at first because every neuron in your brain is telling you that YOU are the one who needs to be listened to, the world has abandoned YOU, it's all about YOU. Well, guess what: you are not the only one who feels that way. EVERYONE feels that way at one time or another. You have to force yourself past those feelings and smile even though it's the most unnatural thing in the world for you to do right now. It feels like a lie.

But trust me, this feeling will be temporary. It might take more than one session, but eventually the mere act of smiling and listening to people will make them want to interact with you, and THAT will make the depression and the loneliness go away. And after a while it will start to work even when you are alone!

One disclaimer: depression can be very serious. It can be so serious that it does not respond to this kind of self-help. If you try this and it doesn't work, get counseling. There are professionals out there who can help. But whatever you do, don't succumb to the temptation to numb the pain by inaction. You can't get yourself out of a hole by curling up into a ball.


This is so true. What I've realized is how hard it is to get to a place where I meet people. I'm in a place that's really only accessible by car, and I don't drive. Uber works sometimes, maybe often, but not always.


> I'm in a place that's really only accessible by car, and I don't drive.

Then relocate. Or learn to drive. Or invite people over to your place. Anything will be more effective than complaining about your plight on HN.


This is useless, you can't "just smile" when you have depression, that's not how it works. You can't "just snap out of it"


I'm not saying that "just smiling" is a magic incantation that will somehow make your depression vanish instantly. But you can "just smile" when you're depressed. It's not easy, but it's possible. I know because I've been there. The important thing about smiling is not what it does to you (although it turns out that merely smiling actually can make you feel better in and of itself) but what it does to those you interact with: it conceals the fact that you're depressed, and makes them more likely to want to interact with you, and that is what actually helps. But yes, it can take a little while to get over the hump.


Of course you can smile with depression. You don’t have to be happy, you don’t have to enjoy it. Inside you want to die, outside you have a smile on your face, and attempt to process what someone is saying to you and reply to what they are saying in a friendly way.


OP is trying to do something about it! He is setting up video chats with people.


Actually, he's not. He's asking if anyone else had set this up.

But video chat is not a good substitute for face-to-face interaction in this case. Video chat is great if what you're trying to do is exchange information. It's much less well suited for providing emotional support. When dealing with emotional issues it's best to be closer to the ancestral environment.


Get yourself into a mastermind group with 2-5 others in a similar situation - solo founders, bootstrappers, etc. You can start with just 1 other person then add more.

Have a regular 1 hour video call every week or two. Everyone gives updates, support, and keeps each other accountable on goals.

Keep a Slack/Skype channel open in between to say hi, help each other, share wins, etc. Bonus points for meeting locally, but online is fine.

Why? Masterminds are the biggest thing I did going from wantreprenur to actually shipping & earning from products. They're also one of the best things you can do to beat entrepreneurial loneliness. Every week you meet other people who share your struggles and are invested in your success.

Here's a good resource for running one: https://taylorpearson.me/mastermind/

If you find at least 1 other person willing to do this (a few candidates on this thread already, or make a FB / LinkedIn post) I'll happily join the first one to facilitate & show how. Email in profile.

P.S. A coworking space + online communities like founder cafe, product people, complice, wip.chat (h/t other posters) can also be super helpful.


Somewhat related: There's a mastermind group that publishes their sessions as podcasts (and I think on youtube too), called the "entreprogrammers". Some time ago they started to organize spinoff groups, and are occasionally looking for new folks. Check out http://entreprogrammers.com/

One thing I like about listening to this is that you really hear about the struggles, not just the successes.


Thank you for this comment!


I'm interested.


I don't know the answer to your question, but I'm Greg. I have been a small town solo founder (and a small town co-founder), so I likely know what you're going through. My email is in my profile - reach out if you'd like to talk.


This thread is such a stark and welcome contrast to the dozens of "remote work is the one true way" and "open offices are bad in all ways" threads that seem to pop up here every few weeks. For extroverts (or in my case, introvert-deliberately-turned-extrovert) energy, creativity and innovation are fueled by human interaction. I consider going solo, couped up in your sterile, quiet home office, to be a certain path to failure. I'm glad to finally have a discussion here where this is being recognized!


> I consider going solo, couped up in your sterile, quiet home office, to be a certain path to failure.

You say you're happy to have a contrast to the usual, but here you are sort of arguing for the other extreme. There are plenty of people who have made amazing things in isolation and work well under those conditions. The point here is that not everyone is the same.


Not sure what you're after here. Remote doesn't imply "couped up in sterile, quiet home office". Remote just means no physical presence required


You bring up a good point when you talk of introverts vs. extroverts. I cannot see extroverts being happy working remotely. They seem to need the human interaction offered in the office. Personally, I'm an introvert. I don't like being around other people and find their presence irritating and unwelcome when I'm trying to get something done. For me, working remotely really IS the one true way. I cannot even relate to the author of the article's sense of loneliness. That certainly isn't true for everyone though. Rather than dictating one or the other, companies should be flexible and embrace both, I think, in order to get the most out of all their employees.


You are confusing distractions with human interaction. When people works from quiet rooms in offices they can still get out and go to a meeting or relax room and talk to others.


My friend Sherry is a counselor specifucally working with startup founders. Her husband Rob is the founder of Drip (and probably hangs out here) . She offers individual counseling and has some great group programs so you know you aren't alone in the challenges you face. I can not recommend her enough.

https://zenfounder.com


Wow, her content looks really great. Thanks for sharing!


This is a real thing. And she has told me that the most common thing she works with is people thinking they are alone. And they are! Because the specific challenges founders face are unique to them and that compounds the feeling of "no one understands." But that doesn't mean community and counsel can't help immensely.

If you feel this way please get in touch with Sherry or listen to her podcasts and read the content. It can change your perspective and help embolden you.


Checking out her podcast, looks interesting.


Digressing a bit: It's very lonely at the 'top' is a phrase I have heard decades back. You are not alone.

Any person who takes on tasks where there is high degree of uncertainty will feel lonely because the vast majority of people around you do not do that or even have the mindset to do that. In short even if you were surrounded by a lot of caring people, you may not be able to relate to them. I think you will get substantial mileage if the support group is trying to solve a similar problem as your are, but you may not, if their domain of work is significantly different than yours.


I would suggest meeting up with real people rather than doing video chat. There is something much more satisfying about meeting in person.

When I used to work alone, I had to schedule regular social interactions to keep from getting lonely (coffee or lunch with friends, meetups, etc...)

It's important to focus on your startup, but it's impossible to do that unless you take care of your mental (and physical) health.


I started a slack group for those of us that got rejected for YC, but no one participated so I shut it down. I'm also a solo founder in need of a support network. This is not about working around people but meeting up once a week for about an hour or so and sharing our progress and struggles and encouraging each other. Glad to know you are not alone. My email is on my profile. Ping me, anyone else interested should email as well.


Seriously, check out zenfounder.com. it's literally support groups for startup founders.


unfortunately rejection is a difficult identity for people to rally around. consider joining some of the established slack communities mentioned here. good luck.


When https://chat.meatspac.es/ was busy, it was really good for this. Not sure lonely is a small town thing, it's both a founder thing and, well... a human thing. I'd guess we're all pretty lonely. :)


Not sure about OP, but im having fun there! Thanks for posting


It was full of nsfw animated gifs...


If you're into exercise and working out, try going OUT (shopping, cafe, people mingling, malls) in the 2-3 hours right after a workout. Your energy levels are raised, you're a lot more vocal, relaxed and "open" along with a positive physical glow and a smile on your face. You are at peak likelihood of engaging in small talk with people in this state.


I'd like a place where I could log in and see people working. The https://complice.co/rooms stuff (just chat, no cams) mentioned above/below is an interesting concept. Pomodoro timers. X mins push, Y mins talk. Shame the rooms are empty.


Creator of Complice here. I agree it's sad the rooms are empty! I thought it would be way easier than it turned out to be, to get a room off the ground. There are a few private ones that are consistently active, but for some reason I've had a lot of trouble getting a public one to stick.

Last summer when IndieHackers launched on HackerNews and Complice was one of the businesses featured there, I made a "Hacker Hall" room (https://complice.co/room/hackers) and posted it to Show HN. It had people in it for a few weeks but it never quite stabilized.

Based on the experience with the private rooms, I think it would only take a couple of champions--people spending most of their working hours there--for it to then be attractive to visitors. This thread probably has enough people to do it. I'd say just comment below if you're willing to hang out in the room consistently for the next few weeks, even if nobody else is there. And if a few people are up for it, then give it a shot. And let me know so I can support you in that!

I think the other thing that's needed is for at least a couple people to actually turn on their cameras, and to chat during the pomodoro breaks, so that people are actually connecting with each other.


This gave me an idea. Anyone need a virtual supervisor?

People could check in with you every few hours and ask you about the progress on your TPS Reports.

All just for 5% of your startup.


I remember reading how someone actually did this. They hired someone from craigslist to sit with them at a coffee shop, quietly watch what they were doing, and poke them to stay on task if they got distracted. It worked out ridiculously well.


I paid someone 10% for this exact service. Nominally, they were supposed to be QA, but they ultimately did very little other than be interested in the project and hound me to make progress. Totally worth it, and to date the only large, multi-year solo project I ever finished and brought to market.


hmm i like it email me


So...

A while back I was playing around on shodan looking for open webcams and found a few where you 'could log in and see people working'. Or, mostly, watch people who probably should be doing something productive not actually working.

My favorite was a town square in Bulgaria, wonder if that one's still open...


In addition to the suggestions about sitting in cafes, I'd suggest you look at places like museums and art galleries. In the UK at least, many have members' rooms. An annual membership plus guest might be in the region of £100-200. Beyond the benefits people have listed with cafes, your money will be going to a good place. Shop around. Some places are great, and with the +1 membership you can even invite a business partner. Or ask your friends to see if someone would benefit from coming along with you.

Far cheaper than typical startup desk-rental.


And what do you do when sitting in cafes? In Switzerland it seems kind of a taboo to just talk up random strangers... The one thing I miss from the US.


Actually in the gallery/museum setting I mention I have talked with plenty of strangers. Maybe that's just me. There is no doubt an air of "who the hell are you?" sometimes but it passes with friendly chat. Plenty of people at the surrounding tables are running small IT or creative startups, it turns out.


Video chat, not sure. But somebody recently setup a Slack workspace[1] for this crowd. There's almost nobody on it yet, but if you want to jump on you're welcome.

If you're interested, check out https://electricautomata.slack.com/

If you need to be invited, give me a shout, I think I can invite people.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15600749


Where are you? If you are a solo founder I highly recommend co-working spaces that have other entrepreneurs. Doesn't feel solo anymore.

If you are in Orange County CA check out this place:

http://peoplespace.us

We (ZeroTier) and many others are residents. As a bonus it features a 3d printing lab, a martial arts dojo (which somehow fits with hackers), and regular meetings of loads of hacker meetups and hackathons and the like.


Hey, shout out to peoplespace! I've been by there but didn't fully take advantage of it. I used to live right at main and jamboree, and later at 55/macarthur. :)


There is a site where you can co-work with someone. They do their thing. You do yours. Can't remember the name.

Edit: I was thinking of https://www.focusmate.com, which has live streaming.


Check out Complice and Ultraworking



ok whoa. this thing is completely free? how do they make money?


question is will it be free forever?


I work at a coffee shop with a few other solo entrepreneurs. It helps everyone stay sane. In the past I went to a coworking space, but I finally got tired of the wantrapreneur atmosphere. I go back there once in a while to reconnect with friends.


- Find and go to conferences. This is really the best way to meet like-minded people in the same field.

- Check out meetup.com. Lots of crap and there and mostly uninteresting but there are few gems for startups and tech people.

- Hang out in downtown areas of nearest cities on weekend. You probably won't be doing anything but its still great feeling to be in crowd and people watching. Most cities have some list of trendy places.

- In your areas of outdoor interests find local groups. For example, hiking, mountaineering, caving etc. This is one of the best way to build deep relationship with great folks.


I work remotely for my current job and am also working on a startup so I can relate to the feelings of loneliness.. I intentionally took a remote work job to try to figure out more about myself and what I really want long-term. Establishing a routine helps a lot, for example I like to use a standing desk at home for a couple hours but after that I'm usually about to go crazy so I go out to work in public, usually a coffee shop. Then, from there I may stay out the rest of the day, switching venues at least once, or come back home depending on how I'm feeling. Then I to to go to the gym when I'm done working. This seems to have helped my feel a lot better than when I would just stay home all day. Another thing I've realized is I hate the area I live because I have to drive everywhere and being able to walk places makes me much happier so I'm figuring how to eventually move somewhere that's a better fit. Also, I've gotten into traveling, I have a little camper I travel with sometimes and work in that. I basically do the exact same routine when traveling but just the added stimulation of being somewhere different. I've developed a lot of interest in learning about how the brain works and one thing I've read is that the main purpose of having complex brains is for motor control and movement, I don't have a good source off the top of my head but it's an easy topic to look up. Basically, though, what I take from it is that it's hard for most people to truly be happy sitting idle in one place all day because it's very unnatural.


from an Indian prospective, I feel the same!I can't afford co working spaces. working from home lead to loneliness. loneliness leads to depression and constant anxiety. also being in India, there are minuscule number of therapists and still going to a therapist is frowned upon!


I have an accountability thing with a few close people in my life.

I commit to them that I'll do X items this week, and we catch up on them each few days. It helps me with keeping promises to myself and others, since I picked up bad habits during my depression's worst states.

It doesn't help with loneliness, but at least you have a person to talk to about what you're doing.

If you're working only on your startup, I'd recommend not burning too much time on it, and using the other time on other activities with other people.


I'm not in a small town but definitely in a small founder community. I'm my username at pretty much everything. Reach out and happy to be of whatever help I can be as well.


Check out FocusMate. It has been helping me for the past few weeks.

focusmate.com


Interesting concept. I sometimes work with friends, little or no talk, or chat that doesn't require brain bandwidth, also using appear.in (great service)


it seems to be totally free? how do they make money?


Hey man, I understand you! Let's make a skype call if you want :) my Skype: azimov.andrey


I would do meetups, hackerspace/makerspaces, cons, and something that has nothing to do with whatever you are trying to do. Taking breaks from your work is just as important as working itself. If you are single I would also suggest grindr/tinder which ever pulls your rope. They are not just about quick hookups(%80 of it is), but you can find someone just to get a bit to eat with and talk about whatever you want and such.


https://wip.chat/ is a new community of makers that I keep seeing around the Twitters


It's $10 a month.


and if its good, that's cheap. absurd to just talk about price without thinking about value. pple spend more on netflix.


Looking for similar minded people to team up with. Anyone would like to chat, get to know each other for building an idea (consumer focus), please drop a line here. narenkeshav at gmail

We shall discuss a lot, just like dating. https://blog.angel.co/how-to-pick-a-co-founder-a984b704d0cb


I always want to be alone, but sometimes I fear, I may end up really being alone my whole life. (I.e., I may never be able to find a partner myself.)

I like to talk with someone who has a good character, and probably I prefer a CS partner.

I love to have perfection in many things, I don't want to do, anything stupid with my life-partner. This perfection of mine may lead to something bad.


You have to learn that you need to strike a balance between wanting to be left alone (while productive) but not to the point that you are abandoned by friends and loved ones that you become lonely.

You need to make time to do things that will allow you meet new people: visit the library, gym, etc but keep in mind good character is relative. Please accept that although you seem to have the tendency to want to make things perfect before shipping, you'll never to be able to truly ship one.

Oh, and you'll make stupid mistakes. It's unavoidable, that's part of what makes all of us human. Better to accept it and view embarrassing mistakes as a learning opportunity.


I’ve participated in two or three solopreneur / side-project groups (and even started one myself). I don’t think they work.

I’ve seen friendships forged by volunteering together on the same thing. But not by people working in proximity on different things.

Coworking spaces have worked out for me but only by giving me access to job opportunities.


Seen a couple Slack suggestions – you might fit in well w/ the Hello, Remote crowd: it's a Slack group I put together for remote workers. Lots of startup people there, join us!

https://helloremote.life/


It gave me a 503 door when I clicked "Join Us"


Same.


Sorry about that! Had some issues w/ the now.sh deploy I was using. I've moved it to Heroku–the "Join Us" button should point to the right place on the home page, or you can go to https://helloremote-invite.herokuapp.com/ directly.


Thanks, I signed up, interested to see how this works out :-)


I think this is one of the biggest problems of "remote" work teams vs. in office teams. I know it's not exactly what you asked, but it really gets at the same problem -> being connected to people (IRL) you can talk to about what is eating your life.


I work remotely in a shared working space, but I'm the only person from my company there.

I thought it would better than working from home, on my own all the time, but in a way it ends up worse. I'm in an office with a load of other people but I can't talk to any of them. It can feel a lot more isolating than if I was just sitting alone at home.

The only time I see friends is at weekends, so if I don't go out on one weekend, I can easily go 6 days a week without having a face to face chat with an actual real person.

It's been a big shift from my previous company where going to work felt like going and hanging out with my mates.

I'm not sure how long I'll be able to do this, I feel it can't be good for your mental health long term.


I’m not sure if this is the right place to share this, but loneliness as an entrepreneur was painful and was extremely bad for my mental health. When I give it another go, it will be after having secured a much better set of relationships.


When I was recovering from being in a PhD program (I was experiencing pretty extreme isolation), my wife and I re-started aikido. Dojo has been a great benefit to our lives. We get:

- a friendly community of close-knit people who ask about your welfare if you’re absent

- vigorous aerobic exercise

- A well-lit space during the dark winter months

In a lot of ways, it’s a bit like a church, but without the religion, and a whole lot more exercise.

Also, this isn’t unique to aikido. I’ve also done judo and another style of jujitsu and found similar experiences (albeit with a little more difficulty finding a non-testosterone-soaked environment). Presumably other styles offer this too.


Hi! This isn't exactly what you asked for, but our Invisible College informally helps connect peers doing independent work. Sometimes we organize video checkins. Eventually we're going to create a method for cohorts of independent workers to form. These cohorts can support each other over time with checkins to counter that loneliness of independent work.

If you want to get involved, join our Slack at http://invisible-slack.herokuapp.com


Dynamite Circle is far from cheap, but I enjoy my membership. They’ll set you up with Mastermind groups of four or five other people in the same time zone for regular video calls, and there are frequent in-person meet ups worldwide. Bit of a tilt towards affiliate marketer and SEO types, but there are plenty of us with normal businesses too. Many members seem to feel that it’s their larger support group because they don’t know many people outside of it building their own businesses.


This has probably been mentioned already, but just in case checkout indiehackers.

A slack group spun out of this for founders looking to stay accountable to each other for a September sprint.. but now it's ongoing. Its a good place to chat with other fellow founders, mostly devs and a few marketing. I can send you the slack link if you like, just reply.

I work from home by myself so i get your problem!


I’m in SF but always happy to do a Skype call with anyone that wants to bounce ideas.

I’m currently working on a startup to help people that are remote so love this type of discussion.

Email is my username at gmail.


There are a ton of great ideas here, coworking spaces, volunteering, etc. Someone sent me this topic because it's super relevant to the work that I do right now working with creators and entrepreneurs.

I've found that creating around other people has a ton of benefits both personally and professionally, and so I create those spaces for people via video chat. https://unrealcollective.com


Shoot me an email (profile). We can talk about whatever.


Update: OP got in touch and we are scheduling a chat.


Try suggesting this idea at Indie Hackers (indiehackers.com), I think there are more founders there interested in starting something like this


Please remember:

Your friends don't have to do the same thing you do.

Find people whose schedule matches yours and hang out with them!

Also: go to meetups. Talk online with your developers (if you employ them) with screensharing etc.

And your FAMILY -- the perfect opportunity to spend time with them.

Don't let American mores of individualism keep you from spending way more time with your family.


Personally, I find that I feel perhaps even more lonely when I talk to people who don't understand what I do. Going out for a beer with "normal people" doesn't help with the loneliness of having ideas which no one else understands.

I feel that one of the main motivations/actions of an inventor is to try to communicate their ideas with others. I feel like my entire job is to live in a dream world, and to try to bring that dream world to the real world. So my entire job is spent mostly totally alone in a world that doesn't even exist, and that no one can visit.


We have a project called Campfire, to build video support groups around pretty much any area, from anxiety to grief to even being a founder:

campfire.care

Sign up and indicate you want to join a founder group!

My co-founder and I are also still working on the right setup for optimizing efficiency/cost/culture, and this discussion is great.


I wonder if someone could just do a Twitch channel. Similar to those "study with me" Youtube videos, but with a human on the other side.


There's a subreddit that shares these kind of videos.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WatchPeopleCode/


There is something deeply dysfunctional in our profession when people identify as "founders" instead of "engineers".


I don't think so. Founders are engineers who are entrepreneurs. It comes with different set of responsibilities and risk.


Solo founder here. I found the first few months of my startup so tough that I must've googled Successful solo founders? a half dozen times. I'm sure you've done the same and there's a lot of stuff out there from PG, Altman, Quora et al. describing how solo founders are far less likely to succeed vs co-founders and I personally think it's not just the shared work load aspect (which is definitely big) but the fact that is lonely at the top.

That said I can tell you what helped me:

1. Good family and friends. Your support network is key - it will support you both financially and emotionally. After a hard day or a bad meeting I have someone I can talk to for advice or just to vent. Having great advisors there to tell you when you're on track or off track is incredibly important. They could be your SO, a successful Aunt/Uncle or even your parents.

2. Co-working space. After several months of trying to code my prototype at home and getting very little done compared to my previous day job where I was very productive I realized I needed to get out the house. Try telling a three year old 'no' when they're tugging on your finger and asking "Daddy, wanna play?".

Co-working is an expensive option at £400 odd per month and some angel investors will poo-poo it as a waste in those early months but for me it literally changed my business. Not only was I able to (finally) code after months of being stuck in a rut but just by being in close proximity to successful professionals and attending networking events nearby I felt energized to keep trucking.

3. Networking. Talk to people, attend networking events (I attend 2-3 a year at most right now so it doesn't need to be nuts to start with). These people become your vendors, your contractors and sometimes your future mentors and employees. A ready smile and willingness to push myself a little and chat with folk about their companies and problems has helped me solve my own company's problems.

4. Save money. Sounds simple but as a solo founder you have almost HALF the contacts a two man founding team has. Your money pool to dip into is also considerably lower. Keep your burn rate low as possible but not too low! Invest in your training (Safari Books, online courses). I didn't hire anyone to help me or buy an expensive computer until I'd built my prototype and demo'd the concept to my friends and family. Of course I'm a coder so if you're not that might be easier said than done!

5. Effective time management. Accept that some days just getting to your desk and answering emails is gonna seem like you're trying to climb a mountain. That's normal. Calendaring helped me with this - by scheduling certain afternoons as my "Do whatever you like" period I was able to look forward to an art exhibition or going to a beautiful library downtown and reading some business and management books. It's different for everyone but do schedule your week to help avoid poor time management.

There's loads of stuff you can do and I could probably write for hours on the subject. I'd say the TLDR; is to have a good support network since flying solo is emotionally tough and to have a productive space where you can work.


Feel free to email me james@opensports.net and happy to talk. =) Working non-stop/being a founder is often lonely.



"Battle is the Great Redeemer, the fiery crucible in which the only true heroes are forged."


Shoot me an email as well if you need someone to talk to. Cheers!


Talk to your customers. They should be your best friends.


Ehhh while I agree that you should talk to your customers, you need real relationships, not transactional ones.


"If you need a friend, get a dog."

Or if you want human friends, be an employee at a corporation and you will find plenty of colleagues to make friends with.

Otherwise, toughen up. If it was easy, everyone could do it.


As a former solo founder, "just toughen up" is very bad advice. It's not something to just power through, and trying is likely to be bad for your mental health. Much better advice would be to get a cofounder and/or join a startup program or some other group of peers.


> Otherwise, toughen up.

> If it was easy, everyone could do it.

It seems these two sentences are mutually exclusive.


Coffee shops and go to meet ups after work.


Coffe shops and go to meet ups after work.


anybody working with or thinking about tenorflow i will love to talk watever email tejioford@yahoo.com


Years ago I created a public TeamSpeak server to meet and talk to people with the same coding interests. It never got much attention, but it's still online at devcon5.org. It's a voice group chat where you can create your own channels, but has no video features.




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