I also have a wife and a baby. And she feels my highs and lows as much as I do.
The excitement of a new idea and the let-downs when things don't explode into a fervour of web 2.0 money madness. But we do okay - I work from home and we have enough money to get by and we're pretty happy. That's enough! That's okay! You don't need to be a billionaire to be happy and doing okay! (Disclaimer: yes, I would like to be a billionaire :)
I've got a few ideas: whatwhere.com.au is a search engine that's going nowhere at the moment, smsmyride.com let's you TXT people by number plate, smscard.com.au lets you call overseas from your mobile phone, 8centsms.com let's you send SMS from the web and decalcms.com which is my YC app, is a fantastic content management system that is proving really hard to sell!! They mostly look crap - we're working on the design etc. and it's hard.
It takes a long time to get something right when you're funding it yourself. Working Software is self funded. We're not a design company - workingsoftware.com.au is my business - we do a lot of backend work so it's hard to pay for good design (although I've recently employed a design/html guy full time and we're working on improve our "brand").
But we do consulting and pay the bills (most months :) and gradually we're moving towards productisation.
And that's how 37 signals did it - and you know what? They've been around for TEN YEARS. And although they started getting some press pretty early on it's not like they've been the masters forever, they just kept working on it.
My advice to you is: sure it's good to apply for YC, sure it's good to have ideas and build things - but don't put all your eggs in one basket. Focus on what you can achieve for very little outlay, do that, see what happens, then change it and keep on keeping on.
Also - employ someone to work with you, or find a partner. It makes a world of difference when you're not doing it all alone. I have 2 full time employees now - 1 coder and 1 HTML/design guy, and a part-time book-keeper. I work with others in partnerships as much as I can. I'm very open to collaboration and always talking to people about my business and striking up relationships.
Just because you don't get funded DOESN'T MEAN THE END OF ANYTHING. You just need to work out a business model where you can pay for 2 days of innovation with 3 days of billable time, and that's how you get somewhere.
Sure, I applied to YC, I'd love to get funded. We could build things way faster that way. But if I don't get funded, hell it's just back to business as usual.
You don't need that boom and bust mentality - good things happen to those who work and wait, just as much as those that have meteoric rises to fame.
There are plenty of examples of admirable people who have received success early and late in their careers in ALL fields. Examples of people who have lost it all after being on the highest of highs, examples of people who work hard their entire lives and never see ANY recognition!!
All you can do is love what you do enough that, if it works it works, and if it doesn't it doesn't. Make sure you save some money, make sure you enjoy the ride, make sure you're working to a realistic schedule and that you set time limits on your hours and that sort of thing.
The way I see people talking about it on YC and vids etc. is: you get funded or you go get a job. That's not necessarily the case, so don't lose heart: you can make money and be happy without Silicon Valley funding :)
I believe that many people would be willing to pay more...
You seem to be equating a CMS to a website and that is just not the case. Original and unique Wordpress themes can cost thousands of dollars because they are generally custom made, original works of great designers. Websites/Web applications/Web services can cost ten, even hundreds (and beyond!), of thousands of dollars because not only the design is custom made, the development of the application and system to management it is also made to order. Let's not even get to the part of how expensive A/B testing and user experience architecture can get.
What you are advertising right now is that you will give a free trial for a year... hosted by you guys for free... for a $999 setup fee? If that is the setup fee alone what will the cost of the CMS be? I'll be honest, I'd have no problem paying you 1k, hell I'd have no problem paying you double or triple that a year for a hosted solution, provided it really is the next big thing since sliced bread and has really great support. From what I saw in your website and video, you'll be directly competing with Squarespace, which offers a lot of the same overall functionality and costs $480 at the top tier without a yearly plan (and seems like it has more features), though I do want to point out that I like yours better from what I saw in the video since it looks a lot more polished IMO.
I've been developing websites for ages and acting as sysadmin for longer even, so I kind of don't appreciate the patronizing, specially since I'm saying I like your product. In any case my advice is this: develop a scalable and sensible pricing structure that will fit your target audience, listen to what your potential customers (read everybody here) have to say, and for gods sakes if you're going to offer a free trial make it really free (and for a month or two, a year is just overkill for a cms)... People will gladly part of hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars a year if they like your service, but paying a thousand dollars to try a CMS out just doesn't make much sense.
Edit: Also you really need to spruce up the design of your CMS's website. It really takes away merit won by the video.
Yeah I was only referring to prefab themes in that price bracket
"What you are advertising right now is that you will give a free trial for a year... hosted by you guys for free... for a $999 setup fee? If that is the setup fee alone what will the cost of the CMS be?"
Okay so this is obviously a problem with how I'm communicating the deal. I was really pitching this at people who have a website already, whether it has a CMS or not, we'll "Decalify" it for $999 and host it free for a year. After that, you pay for the hosting.
"I've been developing websites for ages and acting as sysadmin for longer even, so I kind of don't appreciate the patronizing, specially since I'm saying I like your product. In any case my advice is this: develop a scalable and sensible pricing structure that will fit your target audience, listen to what your potential customers (read everybody here) have to say, and for gods sakes if you're going to offer a free trial make it really free (and for a month or two, a year is just overkill for a cms)... People will gladly part of hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars a year if they like your service, but paying a thousand dollars to try a CMS out just doesn't make much sense. Edit: Also you really need to spruce up the design of your CMS's website. It really takes away merit won by the video"
I wasn't meaning to patronise you - I suppose I had assumed we were essentially talking about "the same thing" however I clearly didn't articulate what was involved very well. To be honest I assumed the type of viewer I was pitching that video/deal at at the time would be unable to make the distinction between "website" and "CMS" - ie. they just want to know what it costs
And yes the design sux :) That was basically something I threw up there to give this thing some presence and it worked to an extent - we got a few early adopters mostly through an extended network and having a video online was a big part of that.
The design and launch pricing structure is something we're currently working on - and it sounds like HN is going to be a great place to get some feedback so thanks!
Incidentally what is the etiquette on hijacking someone else's thread like this??
Offer the same thing for a month with no setup fee and you'll get a lot more customers (though I don't know if that's what you are looking for at this point... maybe you're waiting for more infrastructure before a big launch, I apologize if this is the deal and I'm getting ahead of myself) and can probably build some following through word of mouth alone.
In any case I like your product, looks really polished, and I hope you guys hit it big. Good luck!