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Balsamiq, a bootstrapped startup featured here some time ago, makes $10k in 6 weeks (balsamiq.com)
64 points by ph0rque on July 30, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 41 comments

Thanks for posting news about Balsamiq here on HN ph0rque. I am quite excited by the RWW review, it's incredible to read about my own company on the #1 blog I read every morning...I still can't quite believe it.

thanks for your detailed blogging about the whole process of going from idea to quitting your job to launch. i spent about 30min going through all your blog posts. very encouraging and real. a great resource for others who are in the same boat.


why the pi?

Balsamiq has come full circle (concept, dev, launch, business).

Then wouldn't it be 2pir, ~6.28 if we assume a unit circle?

I wasn't actually talking about the circumference per se, just that Balsamiq has come "full circle" which I represented using pi.

I know it's just a saying, but taken literally, "coming full circle" would mean the circumference. That is, going around in a circle.

actually, when a circle's diameter is 1, its circumference is π

I think "unit circle" means a circle with a radius of 1, not a diameter of 1: http://everobotics.org/projects/roboMagellan/img/UnitCircle....

How did you do the marketing for Balsamiq? Or is that covered in one of your blog posts?

It isn't, but a few people have asked me the same question, so I might write it up soon. No rocket science...I just followed some good advice: http://www.balsamiq.com/blog/?p=58

When will you startups learn? Single founder companies can't succeed.


It depends on your definition of success... I believe you can be very successful as an individual, but this will be limited by your capacity.

One person can go only so far (not that this is by any means insignificant e.g. PlentyOfFish apparently serves millions of uniques and earns US$10,000 per day with a staff of one). "Singles" will inevitably hit a glass ceiling where they will need more resources if they want to break through.

The secret to continuing your initial success is ensuring that these additional resources can leverage off your initial good work AND add value of their own in excess of the complexity added/strain they place on you and your new "organisation". Far easier said than done.

Hi there. I don't intend to stay a one-person-company for long, but right now I can't afford to hire anyone and I don't want to get external funding. Care to elavorate on why I won't be able to succeed?

I think he was being sarcastic...?

Oh, oops. Why is sarcasm the hardest thing to convey via email/IM/simple text? Hey maybe a one-person startup could takle _that_ problem! :)

The author of this site, Paul Graham (pg), is an essayist who listed single founders as number one on his startup mistakes list. It's not an opinion I share, so yes, sarcasm intended. :-) Agreed 100% about sarcasm being hard to see in text. While an extra person can be an advantage, I think he overestimates the advantages and underestimates the disadvantages.

Nice work on the site and app! Congrats!


It's merely a difference of approach. Balsamiq seems to be a very nice business...but it's not a startup according to pg's definition. The goal does not seem to be "get acquired or have an IPO". Building a lifestyle business as a solo founder is entirely feasible...if a little exhausting after a while (I ran a solo founder business for seven years before starting my current business).

I guess, to me, maybe that's a part of the issue. I define a third route for a startup. Make money. So I have trouble with that lesser definition. I'd have called 37 Signals a startup (still might, when does being a startup end--I don't know how to draw the line).

I worked at a software company which has 5 buildings it owns outright, employs thousands of people, and has 300 million+ in annual revenue. In the 70's it was started by one person. I'd have called it a "startup" at the time. It is still private.

The difference perhaps revolves around "startup appropriate for Y Combinator" vs "startup."

The difference perhaps revolves around "startup appropriate for Y Combinator" vs "startup."

Actually, it would be "startup appropriate for any investor". If there is no exit planned, then it's not something an investor wants to be involved in.

It's purely semantics, which is why I specifically said, "according to pg's definition". Your definition may be different...but if you're talking about pg's rules of thumb for "startups", you have to accept his definition of "startup" for the purpose of context.

It's a good point, and those may be his definitions, but I don't see the rules mentioned in the essay in particular.

There are all sorts of investment that don't fit the Silicon Valley VC short-term mold, so appropriate for "any investor" might be over-stating things, even for startups. Investing in cash-cow businesses is not a bad strategy--I wish I could have invested in the private company I mentioned above in the 70's. Jeff Bezos thought 37 signals was interesting enough to invest in. Warren Buffett seems to like cash cow businesses as well.

Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who break the rules.

> If there is no exit planned, then it's not something an investor wants to be involved in.

Buy and hold anyone?

Earlier discussion about startup (DHH) vs startup (pg):


I thought they solved that problem when they invented the <sarcasm></sarcasm> tags.


I ran a startup for 7 years, was very successful, but as a single founder, I understand fully the problems and concerns of PG et al. My biz (electronic products design/manufacturing/distribution) was very demanding, maybe / (shouldbe) a software company will be less so. In which case the rules change?

Im hoping....


YC funds single founders all the time. There were several in our batch.

I didn't say anything about who YC funds. Trolling is a stretch--this is number one on pg's list of "startup mistakes" and sarcasm != trolling.


Congratulations on the write-up on RWW as well by the way.

Inspirational blog and success story. Congratulations and thank you for sharing!


May want to invest in some web design though, your site layout is pretty obviously copied from 37Signals' Basecamp...


Give me a break.

Ya, the site could be designed better. Is it a Basecamp copy simply because he intelligently uses "above the fold" and then answers a few question in a two-column format below the fold? How many other sites do that? Many! Certainly those that want a modicum of success, and are aware of the home page "design patterns" that are in use today, do.

I plan on using the exact same design pattern for my projects.

I can't even say that 37Signals pioneered the pattern but they might be responsible for popularizing it. It works.

If anything Peldi deserves a little credit for utilizing a well known pattern to get his site up and saving his time for developing his app.

Hi there, the design is mine (and sadly it shows), but when I did design it I was at the peak of my 37signal fanboy phase, so I'm not surprised you see similarities.

I am working on a new design with a graphic designer friend...so there's hope. :)

I'm pretty happy with Balsamiq's successs. He found a design that works for him and his customers. If anything this post is a troll cleverly disguised as a compliment.

And if I do recall, one of the points in "Getting Real" is to copy design of a website that is completely unrelated field.

Interesting app.

Congrats! I think it's looking good!

Congratulations on your success, I suppose minus the costs for an individual this would be a healthy income, it or depends on your driving vision for the site, if it is to maintain that traction then I must agree with other comments that doing this alone simply wont work. If youve got good numbers as youve showed theres every chance you can try for funding.

I must also note that while I am very glad you have succeded in your milestone and its obvious benefits from a marketing standpoint, I find the whole area of self promotion on such an early scale somewhat of a recipe of disaster. My own startup (Travel social networking / Commerce site) is in private until september time yet from friends, family and testers our turnover and profit in the last 4 weeks dwarfs this figure. I could easily push these figures for marketing purposes but until i have sustained traction in reaching our targets they add no real benefit to us.

Nonetheless good job, but go get some extra help with that money!!

wrigley "My own startup (Travel social networking / Commerce site) is in private until september time yet from friends, family and testers our turnover and profit in the last 4 weeks dwarfs this figure."

wrigley "At present I cannot personally fund this project and in order to get to demo phase need to bring a hacker on board to work in partnership, what resources or methods would anyone suggest in trying to attract a hacker on an equity only option at present?,"

whats the truth then?

Wow, I just looked at his comment history, and you're right. The guy is a bloody moron and is self contradictory more than once.

wrigley: "I think when the net goes to the IPv6 there will be many more domain options"

There's nothing wrong with not knowing what IPv6 is, it's relatively domain specific knowledge. I know next to nothing about organic chemistry functional groups - but I don't go spouting bullshit in organic chemistry forums.

Very misleading quote, you should be a journalist..

You are pointing to a new project I was looking to startup - NOT my current project, if you quote the whole item you will see that "I cannot personally fund this project" - relating to the new project I was looking to startup.

The existing company (Travel website) I currently work for and manage is doing quite fine thanks, hence the comment in this post.

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