Firstly, your issue doesn't seem to be anything other than social anxiety
If you have to 'lose sleep' after contacting someone on LinkedIn about your product, then you are just not suited to doing a startup
Secondly, there is nothing to feel bad about
Vast majority of people are not suited to starting a company or working in a small startup
Lots of good jobs in middle and large companies for you
Thirdly, the scale of stuff you are talking about is miniscule
I walked away from a Green Card to start my company
If I didn't succeed, I would have lost access to the developed world FOREVER
You are upset that your girlfriend had to stay at home one year and you couldn't take her out for dinner????
Finally, this is a Catch 22 situation. Not sure why you are submitting this or writing about your experience if the ENTIRE reason you quit was you couldn't handle doing sales and marketing and putting yourself out there
I'm reluctant to respond because people who have social anxiety can sometimes take genuine feedback and mis-interpret it
What I'm trying to say is that the extent of the risk you took is not very high
And the reason that stuff didn't work out is your social anxiety
So just make sure you don't take the wrong feedback from what life is telling you
The whole concept still makes me intensely anxious and I would sooner quit a job than begin dealing with customers directly.
But I'm hella good at my job and I'm quite comfortable not being that kind of person. As you said it's not for everyone.
The crazy thing is that it never occurred to me to discuss this with my parents, nor (AFAIK) did they ever consider having me see a counselor. I just kept on carrying a private shame about my cowardice.
I really hope that parents are better these days about noticing when kids are privately suffering with various neurological / psychological issues, and that more resources are available for helping.
Is it ? So is the lack of empathy.
> I would have lost access to the developed world FOREVER
No you wouldn't have. You would have temporarily forfeited the ability to _live_ at _one_ rich country.
> So just make sure you don't take the wrong feedback from what life is telling you
What IS the correct feedback? Certainly not yours.
The way I read the reply is that almost all small businesses fail, almost all startups fail. There is absolutely nothing unique to "indy hacking" in the original post that doesn't apply in general to the small business/independent contractor world, and if you spend any time talking to one of these people, they will have plenty of similar stories. Thus the "well, what did you expect" tone of some of the replies that you seem to take offense to.
The best course of action for low risk tolerance people who don't want to do everything themselves is to find a big company to work for with stable employment that is focused on their core passion, rather than forcing them to deal with customer support, billing, tax issues, HR issues, VISA issues, facilities maintenance, infrastructure, sales, working capital management, and all the other stuff you have to handle on your own if you are running a 1 man shop (or even a small business).
All of the above should be absolutely obvious -- why do you think these big companies have tens of thousands of employees and have dozens of non-developer full time staff for every developer? If you want to do everything yourself, you will need to take on the responsibilities of all these other people.
None of this will ever change, either.
Btw, this was the topic of a nice essay by Joel Spolsky called "The Developer Abstraction Layer". The original author of the post basically lived out the parable in Joel's story. You might want to take a look:
Interestingly enough, the theme of Joel's story is that developers take this abstraction layer for granted, and thus end up being shocked when it turns out really hard for the indy developer, who is missing this layer, to do everything for themselves.
Its the same as if you are terrified of heights, being a professional mountain climber is a very bad plan. You either need to get over it somehow quickly or choose a different career.
And there is nothing wrong with that. We all have unique strengths and weaknesses. Success comes from following our strengths not trying to plow through our weaknesses.
I don't understand this comment and the other similar ones acting like they are somehow adding insight... yes, he couldn't make it as an independent developer, that is literally the point of the essay.
Repeating the reasons he lays out in the essay and saying "yeah, you won't succeed as an independent developer" seems a little like hearing someone at Alcoholics Anonymous tell their story and then responding, "Yeah, it sounds like you can't have a healthy relationship with alcohol"
To the extent he's making a point such as "I gained nothing from this experience" or that he's asking for advice or thoughts, I think some of the thoughts -- such as working toward your strengths rather than through your weaknesses -- are interesting.
Fast forward 15 years of not doing it and I'm terrified to go up on a roof.
My point is you may have an inclination to be afraid of something but don't let that limit you. You probably can face your fears and overcome.
And your issue doesn’t seem to be anything other than inability to empathize with someone that is legitimately venting how freelancing can be a nearly impossible hurdle for some. Anxiety is not the same experience for all.
This is NOT a competition.
> I walked away from a Green Card to start my company
> If I didn't succeed, I would have lost access to the developed world FOREVER
What? I'm British; before HN I'd never heard of a 'green card'. Maybe it's a policy that the USA won't let you in if you walk away from one once; maybe Canada cares about that too.
But I assure you, the majority of the 'developed world' (a) doesn't give a shit about; and (b) isn't equipped to take into consideration, American 'green cards'.
I had a girlfriend that moved here from the US of all places, and almost 5 years of avoiding pitfalls later she still can't be sure she'll be allowed to stay...imagine the chances of someone from, say, somalia making the jump.
For someone who wanted access to a Green Card, to have to give it up is fairly substantial.
And FYI anyone in the developed world, were they to know what a 'Green Card' actually was, would find it probably invaluable. The optionality that comes along with being able to move freely and work in the US is a big deal even if it's not apparent at the start of one's career.
A more useful correction to the parent comment: GP probably just meant that the green card was what currently gave them access to the whole of the developed world, not that it's the only way to access some of the countries in it.
France's customs for example don't care whether you have a US green card or not, it makes no difference in whether or for you're allowed to stay in France.
Besides that, there is no point to compare risks and suffering, both are relative and subjective experiences.
And lastly, social anxiety could be (or not) by it self a major problem, bigger than losing a Green Card, your comment sounds too condescending and not really useful.
Clearly he was in the wrong line of work. I'm not saying it wasn't worth sharing in self-care, but I don't feel we should be overly sympathetic when the bottom line is that the guy seems to have made a series of predictably bad moves. It sounds like he was hoping to make short term sacrifices for some sort of startup dream outcome, but clearly that only happens a small amount of the time. He's probably on r/entrepreneur right now dreaming about drop shipping.
I am familiar with startup company working, but I'm positively not suited to starting (or being a CEO of) a company, and I don't see any shame in it. To each their own.
There is around here (on Hacker News). If you don't run a company, the entrepreneurs around here don't believe you deserve anything more than a "competitive" salary and a job.
What's wrong with being a programmer in a different country? Maybe I don't understand but as someone who writes code and doesn't have a "green card" (afaict that's some USA immigration thing) I really don't see the problem there. Not doing anything fun for a year seems like a much bigger sentence than not being allowed to stay in a place that you apparently didn't come from to begin with. There are a lot of other rich countries in the world if that's what you're looking for? I heard some of them even score higher on happiness indices.
I do agree with you that OP seems to have social anxiety. Reading that they have a lot of trouble posting things online, that's not normal and definitely doesn't seem like a good recipe for someone who wants to make a living with a developer job in this digital world. But I don't agree that because you went through self-proclaimed bigger risks, this person isn't rightfully frustrated after not managing to make money from self-employment.
How did I do it? I had small goals each day and each week and focused on those goals rather than the outcome. It is the outcome that creates angst for the introverted.
I had my own business for 3 years. The first year was painful the 2nd 2 years were productive.
When I went back to traditional employment I had a confidence that I would not have had if I stayed on a traditional business path.
I remember first day of speech in college when it was my turn to speak. I got up, walked out the door, and dropped the class.
It was hard to even work up the courage to post this comment. But i did. Baby steps.
That's the spirit!
And it will definitely be baby steps at a time, you just need to keep going.
The Charisma Myth book has plenty of interesting research and content, but by far the most important things are the exercises. At a basic level they are about being very aware of your internal state and then learning how to change it. When I first started going through the exercises, it kinda felt like I was learning a new language, and it opened a whole new world of possibilities.
Btw, if you just want to test it out before buying the book, check this summary out and follow the "Three quick tips to boost charisma" mentioned in the second bullet of chapter 1.
So much to learn like writing, doing presentations and conducting a sale (B2B), public speaking, crafting a brand, hiring, designing processes, organizing and managing teams, company structure and culture...
I love to code, but it’s a small part. The larger “real life build your company strategy game” is more interesting for me.
I guarantee you it's more than that. If you create a product that actually solves people's problems, people will make the effort to reach out to you.
I know this from experience - I have poor social skills but a good business sense, and would regularly make sales even when I was overwhelmed and avoiding contact with the outside world for weeks at a time.
There is around here on HN. Entrepreneurs here view you as, at best, an interchangeable cog who deserves nothing above a job and perhaps a bonus if you help a company succeed.
If you're a really good, perhaps you'll even get to keep your job when the founder walks away with "Fuck You" money.
Is it any surprise someone who wants to succeed feels like they must to become a founder to leave the daily job behind?
It sounds like they poured their soul into something and now are dealing with the fall out of it failing.
I think this post is nothing more than an emotional release. A cathartic venting of the disappointment of failure.
This is one of the most difficult kinds of business to start. You need to attract both content creators (sellers) and content consumers (buyers). Attracting just one group is hard enough. Attracting both is just about impossible. It's even harder when you're kind of shy and sensitive to criticism.
Hats off to the author for trying the almost impossible anyway. I imagine there are some really good lessons in that experience.
There's plenty more positives you can take from this experience.
1. You learned how crippling your social anxiety can be (perhaps you already knew?), so maybe you can take some steps to work on that.
2. The door of indie developer is now firmly closed, which means you can explore new possibilities (whatever they may be), with wholehearted commitment not distracted by the siren's call.
3. You learned just how supportive your partner is. They stuck with you and are still with you. That's gotta be a good thing right?
For me it was important to forgive myself even when no one else would. My view is forgive (myself) but not forget. Forgiving allows me to move forward. Not forgetting is a guardrail against moving back.
Having said that, life is full of actions with consequences that are truly final and one-way tickets. I'm not judging how people perceive the pain of their own dilemmas. That's a deeply personal call.
Sure, social anxiety might be part of the reason. But I think the biggest contributor to your lack of success was that you did not have a team around you to build the product. With a team, I'm sure you would have found it much more acceptable to cold email people and just feel no shame basically promoting the product.
But that's one part of the whole picture. Sometimes, I guess, you just have to admit that people don't want to buy your product. Maybe it's because you don't know how to market it or maybe it just doesn't provide that much value.
I wish José best of luck to future endeavors and I recommend getting to know other start-up oriented people. Possibly salespersons. To start your next project. Don't get discouraged, that's my advice. With the right people in your team, I'm positive you can succeed.
Yeah, that sucks. I'm sorry you had a bad experience.
I think one thing for the community to take away is you need to be in a good position financially before you can start a startup - unless you can get funding. Especially for indiehackers who don't usually take outside investment, $12k in savings is not enough. It is not normal to have to stop going out at all or to be pinching pennies. Not everyone can afford to start a startup. For some reason, this concept is almost never talked about in the startup community, but it's really important.
If he has $500k, spent $20k living cheaply for a year, I’d bet he would be in a similar position that he is in now and choose to re-enter the workforce after a year of failure.
1-3 years of work is not a casual expense.
When I was 21 that would last me probably 20 months.
At 25 it’d be down to 12.
At 32 (with a family) I wouldn’t last more than 3 months.
Luckily savings more or less keep up with spending :)
I'm currently saving up to do just that and its like, "I could buy a house with this money" or "I could go on sabbatical with this money", or "I could bet everything on a business that may or may not succeed and potentially lose it all"
And if I do? There is nothing except going back to the tech grind, or homelessness, or another (far less lucrative) career. Unemployment won't help me (which is complete and utter BULLSHIT for the amount of money I've paid into it), and I'd be ineligible for social security due to that previous tech income hanging over my head. There are no, "sorry you failed, here's some money to get back on your feet and try again" grants
It really underscores the reality that most of these founders have rich family or friends to fall back on.
I've been working (with a co-founder) on a side project that's about to pan out for the past 2.5 years. About 1.5 years of that was working after hours, then about 10 months or so of 6 hours at my day job and 2 hours in my company, then just recently I quit my job with about a years worth of savings and am full time in the company.
The risk I took, until recently at least, was almost nothing, since I had a job all along and was actually saving money at a quick pace.
You too can start a company without going bankrupt with a bit of planning and a bit of frugality.
nb. I'm counting my project as a success if it brings me >= 1x median wage on the side, which is a low bar. Also, I am not rich.
That's part of why I would really like to make a clean break... I just can't do the weekend warrior thing
You said, "it really underscores the reality that most of these founders have rich family or friends to fall back on", someone else replied saying that they've been bootstrapping a business on the side and you come back with, "I just can't do the weekend warrior thing".
You can't say "well only rich people can start a business!" and then dismiss bootstrapping as an option just because you personally can't "do the weekend warrior thing".
I'm sorry, did I misread you or are you saying that work for hire is beneath you and so you you should be able to work on your ideas (which are all brilliant, no doubt), while being supported by other people, aka peons?
Honestly the safest option seems to be relocating to a third-world country where the labor and the cost of living is cheap, so that said money can be stretched out over a few years. Or waiting til that pile of money gets a bit larger and living off ramen for a while
There is a large part of Europe (and I'm sure the US) where the standard of living is decent and you can easily get by on <15k€/year.
Right now I have my eye on either Latin America, rural Northern California, or Nevada. Humboldt area is very cheap right now, I am seeing 2br houses renting for $1000 and studio apartments for 3/4 that in Eureka (which isn't all that bad; I just visited)
I had a similar feeling some 10 years ago after my first startup failed. I felt that I had wasted one year of my life and was very bitter about the failure and the personal sacrifices that came with it.
In time my thinking came around. I better understood my limits, knew my preferences, and developed some new capabilities. I was also better able to navigate startup #2 which is still going great as a bootstrapped company. My cofounder ended up on a corporate software dev team, and is also doing well.
Bottom line: things will get better. Regard this as a learning experience that helped determine a more rewarding future path (probably not doing your own startup, but that's OK, too)
And that’s ok too. Not everything has to be recast as value additive or enriching from some more mature or greater perspective.
People that stay at a job might actually just have a much more accurate assessment of chances involved and their own capabilities.
That job at Amazon? Go for it! It probably has some stock options too.
Honestly the whole idea of startups has been somehow perverted beyond belief. At least from reading the US news, startups are basically a standardised product themselves, in the same way you have building codes. For an investor the startup is a fungible sprocket that just found a different niche. This kind of... conformity seems the opposite to any true creative business making.
- https://nomadnest.org an alternative to Couchsurfing
- https://coffeelist.co - a coffee community
- https://nomadasdigitales.com - a digital nomads community in Spanish.
- https://lanzame.net - a Product Hunt in Spanish.
- https://classline.io - a SaaS for teachers to simply communicate with students over email, this is using the technology that I created for nomadmail.
for one person this is just too much to get it right in one year I guess. How much time can one really spend to deeply understand customers and their wants/needs?
Apart from that - answering the classical questions like what problem does it solve? why now? etc. points me to a lot of issues with copy-solutions, especially some of these ones during a pandemic.
if the code quality is good, I can imagine a lot of people paying decent money on learing how he did it - although also in this niche there are some players.
I've written here already about some issues I faced. In my case, I've lost all my savings and much more, but I'll not compare my situation to yours, that would definitely not help you. Only you know your own situation and what you're feeling.
People will say that you might not have what it takes to be a successful startup owner. That may be true, but people often forget that there are other kinds of companies than startups, and you can perform really well even if you don't meet Paul Grahamer criteria for successful founders.
I'm currently working on a regular job and planning to come back within a year or so. But I'm not taking that as a hard requirement -- I'll assess the situation by then and decide if it's really a good idea.
I've come to realize that myself and my weaknesses are really big competitors of mine, and I'll try to manage them properly. I'll separate some money that I won't care too much if I loose -- I believe that that will help me to manage my own anxiety and the truckload of poor decisions I make after months of anxiety and stress.
And I'll hire a salesperson to help me on this. Many say this is bad idea, that you yourself have to sell your product and so and so, and I thank you all for the advice but I'm not following it this time and OK.
I'll work on presenting myself a bit stronger to people. It's interesting how condescending people become when they see that you are performing bad. They start to patronize you and feel overconfident to give terrible ideas. I don't blame them too much but, even to be fair to myself, some pieces of bad advice contributed to make my situation a bit worse.
That's what I'm planning to do, see if it helps.
There is a big element of luck in success, so multiple attempts may be necessary even if funding is available.
However, NeXtOS (and NeXtStep) became MacOS, then iOS, which is the operating system for the iPhone; probably the most successful product ever made.
I empathize with the author, but it takes a lot to be an indie hacker. I am not an indie hacker. I'm a software engineer that is doing my own thing; with no thought of compensation. there's no way that I could have done that when I was younger.
I just love doing this stuff. I'm good at it, and I don't have to prove anything to anyone; which is nice.
This is true, and pretty much always has been. It's also why, despite much propaganda (some know it better by the name of "The American Dream") and a few lucky exceptions, entrepreneurship has mostly been an endeavor of the more privileged, with access to enough funds to make several mistakes (or sometimes multiple in parallel) before hitting a jackpot.
For some reason, this often appears a rather touchy subject, if not a cultural taboo. In particularly in the USA, where many apparently believe that taking a risk as an entrepreneur should somehow result in success if you persevere. Some might even feel almost entitled to it, or so it appears. Which is rather odd, if you'd ever look at the statistics of failed business. Not to mention the many crazy and often totally unrealistic ideas some folks come up with.
Maybe it's all just a product of (cultural) brainwashing, ignorance, or just too much hope on a better live (or desperation about the current one).
To be clear, I'm not saying that how the system works is fair. As a personal opinion, on the contrary. But complaining about how things didn't work out as you believed/hoped they should have, is like being angry at a bull for attacking you while being a vegetarian. Neither bull nor the system care.
Even if you have the greatest idea, you can't predict whether people will even want to try your product. It's a numbers game and a luck game. As we've seen with other posts about successful solo projects, sometimes you get lucky and a social media influencer boosts your product, but you can't bank on it.
I was finally acquhired (to use a term invented later) by a local startup that needed what I was doing, for a signing bonus, decent salary, and a big chunk of equity. (This was in the late 80s. My "plan", such as it was, would not work now, because software is basically given away.)
I guess the lesson is this: know your limitations, and work around them. If you hate doing X, then don't force yourself to do X, because you will suck at it compared to the many people who love doing X. And you will be miserable. Find a situation where you can do what you enjoy, and are good at, and somebody else does X.
> So the real cost is more than the money I lost. I made my girlfriend stay home for a year, we didn't do anything, we didn't buy clothes and ate the cheapest food, etc.
> I got much more from the articles that I wrote here on Indie Hackers than from any of my projects. And I did those in a couple of hours.
I know you don't like that it only took a couple of hours. But if you got more from them, why not go further into that? 80/20 etc.
> Every time that I want to promote something, my stomach hurts.
If I share an article on Reddit I feel anxious for a week.
When I go to a Facebook Group to suggest my apps, I feel sick.
If I send a private message on Twitter or Linkedin, I can't sleep.
All the time I think people are going to hate me, tell me that I am an idiot, a con maker, that my ideas are terrible, that I suck.
And they did many times, and I can't handle that while making $0.
So, I quit.
That sucks. I'll be on the lookout for these signals as well. If I have them, then I either try to find a growth hacker type of person, or quit as well.
> I always wanted to write more. I love it. But I felt that I couldn't write if I wasn't successful. But I guess there are no rules.
Indeed, there aren't. When you write, you get to set the frame and tone of your message.
- was this a problem-driven product? Because this seems like a crowded market, which means you probably need to be able to outcompete the existing products
- startups aren’t for everyone; those gut feelings could have been identified by spending a few weekends doing market research and validation.
- so it took a year, a year is nothing. You learnt you don’t want to do startups and probably learnt a bunch of stuff that would be useful in the future. You challenged yourself. And you’ll be more grateful for that regular pay check in the future.
It’s not a disaster, it’s learning and experience and those things are valuable.
I think he's the only one giving worthwhile advice here. You're very unlikely to succeed at bootstrapping a startup and people often don't realise this or act like through perseverance they will definitely succeed. He's lucky to have realised that he had other things in his life he cared about more after only a year.
Many people want a family or want to buy a house. Others want to enjoy their 20s (or 30s for that matter). Others want to put money into investments or a pension for their old age. You could sacrifice all of these things chasing a startup dream and end up with nothing. There is a high likelihood of this. Unless you believe you've very different odds or a much lower cost (e.g. an investor) you probably shouldn't do it.
I'm reminded of the chapter on Stardew Valley in the book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. That story is also about a developer who worked on a solo project, years, however, and who brought in no income while his girlfriend worked to support both of them. Obviously that one has a much happier ending. (I will say one huge difference is that from early on, it was clear that there was a fanatic user base just waiting for the game to be released.)
I've spent a year and half building out something that i can see bringing value and enjoyment to a wide swath of people.
I just flail hard at the thought of putting myself out there to market it. My personal problem though is "its not good enough yet" and I just stop. A lot of advice here says "its just not for you" but I dont entirely believe that.
I've enjoyed creation, autonomy, and the freedom to define my path. There was to be a way to get out of your own way...
Drove myself and my family into the poor house for something people enjoyed using for free but wouldn't pay for... made plenty of mistakes.
I thought if I didn't quit on it I wouldn't fail, but looking back it started failing the second I launched it as a generic product... you need a big marketing budget to launch i ended up giving it away free just to see people use it.
I tried and didn't succeed at a product where I spent my savings too. It's just the reality of a lot of startups. It's unsexy, but it's the reality.
Doing this stuff self-funded with a nearly nonexistent budget is harder than Hard Mode.
Nevertheless, if that money was enough for them to last a year, that isn't a super small amount of time either. But around the 6-9 months mark, it might have been a good idea to start looking for alternative funding (a regular job, even if it's just a low paying one), especially if there is no social welfare system where you live (if there were, you'd be able to live indefinitely on $0k while you try that self-employment thing; though similarly you wouldn't be going to any restaurants).
Seeing all these TV shows, movies, HN posts about people starting their own company, etc. I think people greatly overinflate the chances that you make it even somewhat mediocre big -- if you even have an idea that's any good.
Like one of the big logistics companies advertising that, hey you can be a truck driver in control of your destiny -- when in fact, it's paying up front for the training, taking out a loan for the truck, and being in debt for years. Or kids enrolling in music school hoping to become a celeb.
Except here, you do it to yourself through hopes and dreams.
1) The "Maker" Path: you slowly improve your own skills and reputation as a developer (or designer) until they give you a big enough advantage that you can translate them into a successful product. This usually means first growing an audience through blogging, conferences, courses, etc.
2) The "Marketing" Path: you become so good at the "business" part of your business that the you're able to launch new products from scratch without a preexisting audience. It's tough to know if this really works or not but I assume with all the money spent on Google Ads some of it has to work… right?
3) The "Idea" Path: you have an idea that you believe in so much that you'll basically stop at nothing to make it work, even if it takes years (which it probably will). You usually pick up the other skills along the way.
I feel like the poster here suffers from not quite fitting in any of the main paths: they did not seem to have a large pre-existing audience or network to launch to, hate anything related to marketing by their own admission, and their ideas –while perfectly good products, such as https://nomadmail.io/– do not seem to be the kind of project that would inspire the kind of passion necessary to sacrifice years of your life.
I don't want to read too much into your article, but I just wanted to add that it sounded like you were doing things on your own which can be extremely hard (or easy) depending on your personality type. Also it sounded like having a marketing/sales co-founder could have made a difference. I'm not sure where I came across the advice that a start-up needs a hipster, a hacker and a hustler, but it's a rare individual who embodies all three qualities.
My first 2 business failures were because I was inexperienced as an entrepreneur and didn't understand where my strengths and weaknesses were. My next venture was a success because I had co-founders and I could focus on my strengths.
I'm sorry things didn't turn out well and I wish you luck in your next move. Whatever you do just be the best version of yourself... whatever that is.
Technical people both enjoy, and know how to build digital products. But they don't understand that a product is not a business.
A product solves a problem.
A business has a steady stream of customers actively searching to fix that problem (a market) and a set of reliable channels for converting these leads into customers (distribution).
If you're not in a reliable market and have no reliable distribution within that market...you have a product, not a business.
A good way to figure out if you'll enjoy being an entrepreneur is to start building an audience first (namely an email list built through social and blog content). It's all of the vital marketing/sales work and talking to customers you'll need, without burning all your savings on 6 months of product development that might be wasted.
If you don't enjoy building the audience of customers, selling to them, and talking to them, you won't enjoy being an entrepreneur.
- It took a bit more than a year.
- Meanwhile count users, not revenue. (need a free version)
- Marketing, not "sales". Your product does a useful thing, for people with some need. Create a "pitch" - a short, memorable description of the problem and your solution. The idea is word of mouth: people repeat your pitch to someone who needs it, like a virus. (A meme, by Dawkins' original definition). Free sales and advertising.
- Focus on the product, not yourself. Like Feynmann saying his nerves disappear when focussed on the thing he's talking about (not him). Avoids self-consciousness.
Less efficient than sales and advertising, but a way to make money without them.
To me that sounds like a nice model to aspire to though, and those people would be worth their weight in gold if you could find them.
I can't tell you how many things I tried and failed. It really doesn't matter if it's a start up or not either, plenty of people put everything into new jobs including moving and failing sucks just as much.
I finally figured out how to succeed but it was a difficult and deeply personal struggle that took a long time.
There are still times I just want to pack it all in and give up.
Infact I just had a meltdown a month or so ago and almost sold off everything. I think it's a part of my personality to never be completely satisfied.
Lastly I chuckled a bit when I read about him feeling bad about his girlfriend, at least he still has one! He should be thankful that she stuck around and should show her the appreciation she deserves for supporting him.
Wasn’t the first try. Two times before that I only had a single client, one time they cancelled the project, second time I delivered the software and the client didn’t have other work for me to do. I lived in a big city then, both times I just searched and found another full-time office position.
When I think I have an interesting idea, I sometimes pursue on my free time. So far, the only outcome I got is couple dozen stars on github, and in one case a hundred thousand of free downloads of my app. Pretty close to nothing. https://github.com/Const-me/SkyFM https://github.com/Const-me/vis_avs_dx https://github.com/Const-me/Vrmac
> nomadmail is made for normal people: writers, authors, content creators. People who want to write newsletters to another people.
If he wanted to have another shot, that's an easy problem to solve to get the ball rolling. Run your copy through a service like "Grammarly" or hemingway, and get it fixed.
For me this is one of those (typical) examples, of a rather (too) generic tool, solving a problem that is already being successfully solved by a number of other (free) tools.
AFAIK, tools like these can sometimes still succeed, if you pick a very specific/narrow niche market and focus all your marketing on that market, and offer special(ized) features for that particular market.
But as a generic tool, or one that tries to "do it all" for too wide a market, I don't think I've ever seen that succeed (commercially). At least not from this position, being a new kid on the block and competing with already established tools doing the same. Just not enough of an edge over the alternatives, I think.
I do feel sincerely sorry for the creator, if he believed this would work out for him. But I (also sincerely) believe it just never had much of a (realistic) chance from the start. I can't make it sound any nicer than that.
I think he would need either a tremendous marketing capital to reach enough people, or have some superb selling skills, to make a profit.
Maybe I'm just too pessimistic. I certainly do not belong to his target audience, which probably doesn't help.
I don’t really know your motivation for trying this path, but if that motivation remains or returns, you might want to start with a friend, so you can divide up the efforts. Or perhaps you just decided that this path is not for you — nothing wrong with that!
Good luck either way!
As far as friends go:
I Started my first business with two friends: one was really good at cold calls and asking for things (I.e. orders) — I struggled with that similarly to you. The other was super comfortable asking friends to come work with us. I had other things I contributed — and we all programmed.
For the three of us it turned out to be fun. I am sure none of us could have done it alone.
Startups are REALLY, REALLY hard to make a living wage on the whole in a smaller period of time when selling things by the drip (eg: SaaS, Ecomm low price points, etc). The business is an art, which is different than the skillset engineers build up over years in their domain - yet want to achieve 'break even ASAP'.
Edit: Business is a very 'social sport' - if social isn't your thing, you have to: compensate, overcome, hire out, or fail.
Without an existing audience or funding for ads, he had to do cold outreach, which I don't blame him for disliking.
so..... what's the problem here?
> And they did many times, and I can't handle that while making $0.
Yeah that makes sense. Better to sell shares of your SaaS company at 40x revenue and let your customers and investors lob the con man sentiment at you. Survivorship bias breeds this behavior :)
> I made my girlfriend stay home for a year, we didn't do anything, we didn't buy clothes and ate the cheapest food, etc. I feel that I have lost a year of my life.
You made her stay home...
You lost a year of your life...
1. If money is very pressing, you should save up enough until it isn't. Spending all your saving is obviously going to induce a lot of stress.
Better yet - spend other peoples money. That means raising money, but you'd be surprised how many angle investors or startup programs there are out there, that are willing to seed you with (relatively small amounts of) money. The catch here is that they typically want a very solid business and marketing plan, and will probably turn down typical cookie-cutter ideas (marketplace, social network, etc.).
2. Yes, it's hard to do when bootstrapping yourself,but hire people to do the marketing and sales. These things can and will make or break early startups and businesses.
Let's take he music venue analogy:
Imagine that you want to build the best concert venue in town. You've poured your hard-owned money into it, along with blood, sweat and tears.
Finally the venue is finished - but there's a problem: No one knows about it.
You figure it will pretty much sell itself, and hire in some artists to perform there - but have done zero advertisement or marketing. Concert comes and goes, but no-one showed up - because no-one knew about the concert. Bands and artists still want their money, same goes with utilities and what not.
Point is - if you can't do the sales or marketing yourself, you need to hire someone to do it for you. You're just throwing money into a black hole and getting nothing in return, because potential clients don't even know you exist. If you can't afford someone - anyone - to do that for you, then you probably don't have enough funds to begin with.
edit: It just seems like your biggest troubles stems from the fact that you (seemingly, or due to anxiety) hate sales and marketing yourself, and that your product/segment may have been quite a tough to succeed in.
Not much luck though. Like OP they decided to go all in. Fingers crossed for them
Before you ever try it you think that if you just consume the right books, blog posts and podcasts then you will be armed with all the information you need to succeed. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. You can only get the information on whether you're personally cut out for it by giving it a go. When you find that you really struggle with a critical piece of the puzzle that can be tough to accept at first, so you can throw good money after bad trying to deny it, but eventually you will succumb.
People can throw out the generic advice that you just need the right co-founder, but that's not always a panacea either.
We all get to decide when to stop trying something. A year may seem like a long time, and it may be long enough for some. But for others, it's just the dark time before daybreak.
what is wrong with that, where is the error?