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Remote OK Open Startup (remoteok.io)
412 points by enjoyyourlife 45 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 127 comments



Remote OK Founder Pieter here, thanks for submitting this and I hope everyone enjoys seeing it.

All of this is possible because I've been a HN reader since 2010 and was inspired by all of you and especially @patio11 on here to bootstrap my own things and do it VERY publicly. My entire marketing strategy is just sharing all my ups and downs, instead of paying for ads. A lot like @patio11 did in his blog posts.

This /open page is just another part of that besides my incessant tweeting about every little feature I built for years at https://twitter.com/levelsio.

I still can't understand it's over $1M/y, it's an insane number for me and I think I would have never believed I'd ever get there if you told me years ago. COVID had a lot do with making remote work suddenly big and my site benefits from that a lot.

Thank you Hacker News!

P.S. This wouldn't be possible without my server guy @daniellockyer, who has helped keep my VPS up for years.

P.S.2. I donate 5% of all revenue to https://stripe.com/climate, with about $75,000/y being donated now.


I'm the co-founder of a pretty lean & 100% word of mouth >1.5M ARR SAAS [1], but god, I'm jealous of the success of Peter, who got to this point with a simple tech stack.

Pretty sure a lot of people here have the same feeling. It's one I had before, and I still have after my success. There is always something else, something better you wish you had.

In my hometown, there is an entrepreneur; one everyone knows who started a 3D studio with now more than > 300 employees; a massive success. He lives in my neighborhood, so we happen to discuss from time to time on walks. He, at one point, stopped me when I told him how much I admired his work and how envious I was of his abilities to scale smoothly; he told me: "Phil, there is nothing I would love more than running a small profitable web business like yours with just two of my buddies."

When success hits for the first time, it's a disturbing feeling realizing your desires and insecurities are pretty much still all there. You are still an envious bag of meat.

Anyway, congrats Peter on the success and fantastic journey! Yes, I'm still a bit jealous, like most here :) But I work on this. I got to go; I got my Yin Yoga class in 20 minutes. It will surely help me realize how lucky I am to live a life of beauty and experiments. It will help me recognize this burning jealousy, accept it, as it is simply part of this beautiful game of life.

[1] https://missiveapp.com/blog/how-we-built-1m-arr-email-client


> "Phil, there is nothing I would love more than running a small profitable web business like yours with just two of my buddies."

I even heard this from more than a few VC-funded founders of famous startups that they'd rather be in my position as it's a simpler life with higher profit margins and less drama than managing big teams. I don't know if that's true because I never did it but I am happy with my simple life right now.

And thank you for all the nice words, I don't know why you'd have to be jealous, Missive looks great and you're doing amazing!


One of the open secrets in the startup world is that builders like building, but large businesses require operators who like to operate. The two skills aren't always found in the original founder.

Some builders grow into large-scale operators, but not all of them really enjoy it.

One of my most memorable experiences in my early college years was getting a small meeting with the CTO of a well-known tech company. All of us college kids wanted to talk technology with him, but I vividly remember him sighing heavily and lamenting that his role had become very removed from the technology and implementation details long ago. He was clearly successful, but I could tell he missed the exciting days of doing hands-on engineering work and getting things done directly.


This resonates a lot with me. I'm hitting revenue metrics that I used to dream about, but still feel like success is something so far away. I see other businesses (and think of business ideas) that I consider much simpler than dealing with hardware issues, chip supply problems, etc.

I guess the grass is always greener, and it is hard to get off the hedonic treadmill. Hitting milestones used to give me such a rush when we were just starting out, but by now milestones have become "table stakes".

When did you consider that success hit? How did you recognize it? How do you acknowledge the fact that success hit, yet still feel insecurities / desires / jealousy of other business?

PS. thanks for answering my tweets about cross platform development a couple of years ago! We've got our native apps out there now.


I don't know if it's related or not (still trying to figure this out), but I personnally went into a bizarre mental state of mind after hitting the two big milestones I had in life since I was a 20 years old young adult, having 4 kids and creating a recognized SaaS with > 100K$ revenue.

The "now what?" I kept asking myself, is a strange question to ask yourself, when you've been so dedicated for so long.


> now what?

Easy. Time to go play with the kids.


Seems like a good plan. :)


What you have achieved is amazing Pieter. Right place, right time, right execution.

There is some irony in @patio11, who I think has/had some of the best writing/talking on the subject of SaaS. He has helped a LOT of other people in their SaaS (and even salaried careers), but was never successful in his own SaaS business.


Well, he moved on to selling shovels no?

He works at stripe. Encouraging people to build SaaS and online business seems like what he should be doing?


All SaaS are shovels — including his.


(This is a good thing, to be clear.)


Yeah and if all SaaS are shovels, probably stripe is a friggin bulldozer?


Thank you! He's swimming in Stripe stock that'll IPO soon, I think he's doing OK


I have enjoyed following your projects for some years. Thank you for sharing your work.

I very much admire your 5% revenue donation, although I wonder if Stripe Climate is the most effective way to deliver positive impact.

If you haven't already, I would encourage you to check out www.givingwhatwecan.org/donate to see research on optimising charitable giving for doing the most good.


Do you have any information to state otherwise? Giving What We Can stopped doing research on charities about 5 years ago, so now it's nothing more than an advertisement.


I do not have information to state otherwise. Giving What We Can provides links to research (see below), and is described as 'the best overall resource on effective giving' at https://www.effectivealtruism.org/get-involved/give-to-outst... which is why I linked to it.

If I were donating $75,000 a year to tackle climate change, I would want to feel like my donation was going to be put to the best possible use. I appreciate that not everyone takes this attitude towards their gifts, but personally I would feel most comfortable making my donation towards funds / organisations / charities that have been scrutinised for evidence-based effectiveness.

I would encourage anyone who wants to donate and cares about maximising the effectiveness of their gifts to read up on Effective Altruism before making a donation decision.

Giving What We Can has a page on climate change: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/research/other-causes/climat...

Which links to research by the Founders Pledge published last year: https://founderspledge.com/stories/climate-change-executive-...


Not to argue but

> In 2017, Giving What We Can stopped conducting original research but rather started to recommend to its members to follow the advice by charity evaluators such as GiveWell, Animal Charity Evaluators and Founders Pledge.

Is what Wikipedia says, so all that is is advertisements for other charities. Unless Stripe Climate has a negative report I am missing it is very easy to see exactly what you are supporting when you donate to Stripe Climate (unlike other companies) and do your own research.


P.S.3. I forgot to thank all the companies that ever posted on Remote OK, thank you. And sponsors like SafetyWing (a YC company at the top of every page on my site) who have been very beneficial to revenue too.


I've seen your talk on starting a startup and how you built this! Great talk, inspired me a lot. All the best.


I've been following you for years, this is fantastic. Are you still using SQLite?


Yes 100% SQLite on all my sites, no other db.


Quick question on that. Ive been a long time 20+ yr PHP user and very happy with that. I've always used MySQL, especially on shared host. Never had a problem with that either. Any reason not to use MySQL? Is it because you're using VPS and don't want to bother with MySQL setup, etc? Just wondering! Did you tweet anything about this I can look up?


Easily portable db files


Thanks for being so open, its helpful and outright cool to see as someone just starting a bootstrapped endeavor. Big +1 to your P.S.2. note!


Great progress, thanks for sharing it Pieter. I gonna do the same for my project, which I am already building in public.


Can you share insights into how you are using Twitter? How is the revenue per follower a relevant and useful metric?


I tweet everything I make or think https://twitter.com/levelsio almost every day


I tip my virtual hat to you on that. I need to somehow aggregate all those tweets into topics / chapters so I can dive deep in each area. Has anyone curated those tweets into something that can be read in a single go? If not I might have to do that myself ;)


I like following your work and you are a big inspiration for me!


What robots are you using? Do you have a post or two about this?


I really want Pieters to write about the thousands of robots that do stuff in the background.


Is there any way to see any consolidated writings by Pieter? Sorting through over 88.5k tweets to uncover a few tidbits seems tedious. This is the problem with Twitter as a documentation method.


If you're interested in a survivorship bias-less(?) write up on trying to be like Pieter, I've been at this for years:

- https://maxrozen.com/2018-review-starting-an-internet-busine...

- https://maxrozen.com/2019-further-reflections-trying-to-star...

- https://maxrozen.com/indiehacking-3-year-review


> In my experience, getting your first 10 customers from content marketing alone is: 1) Extremely difficult to get right 2) Kind of a waste of time (unless you've got thousands of people in your mailing list). Talking to customers is the fastest way to figure out if the problem you're solving is even a problem at all.

Golden advice for many people launching things on HN who get this wrong.


It's definitely difficult, I started a remote work site before covid but it didn't take off. Couldn't solve the 'chicken-or-egg' marketplace problem, I couldn't get enough companies to post jobs and people found an empty site apalling.


Posting in case people haven’t come across this advice: the trick to a two sided market startup is usually to find a way to provide value to one side without the other side being present.

So, for example, you build a free platform that helps remote contractors manage their hours, billing, invoices, leads etc.

Then, once you’ve built up an audience of contractors you say to the companies “hey, I have a million people working on here, I think they’d be interested in job opportunities, so I’ve made an opt in jobs board / newsletter” and go from there.

Of course, it might not succeed, but AFAICT this is the general strategy for solving this problem.


This is great advice, but you also have to be really strategic about this as the solution you create to try to acquire one side of the market can easily become a full-time burden that distracts from what you really want to offer.

Using your example, the market for time tracking, invoicing, etc. is very mature and highly competitive, so if you launched a solution in this space, you'd have a steep uphill battle to gain traction.


Make it free then


Making something free doesn't automatically guarantee it will be competitive or appealing, especially in mature markets where the entrenched competitions' offerings are hard for upstarts to come close to parity with. Sometimes "free" makes a product less appealing.

In the example market, there are already established players with free tiers.


Plus, "free" customers are very demanding, far more so than paying customers.


Yeah this, people come for the utility, and community then arises naturally. Unfortunately it's very hard to lure users from the big platforms with community only.


Thanks, I enjoyed reading these.

Did you see value in the 30x500 course? Would you say it’s worth the price tag (I think it was 4K last I checked)?

I’m in a similar spot where I’m mostly disillusioned from salaried work. I enjoy writing quality and long term code and companies tell me it’s what they want when they hire me, but when the rubber meets the road, what they want is quick and dirty quality be damned.

But I can’t think of anything that I could sell for myself (either a course or a SaaS). I’ve had ideas before but always ran out of steam before they were useable. I usually spend a lot of energy on the project setup (deploy from git push, tooling config, etc)

And honestly, it doesn’t feel like I have the stamina to work so hard for year for maybe a payoff in the future.

Any thoughts on the above? How would you tackle it?


I did see value - and after accounting for the tax deduction, I've reached a positive ROI after about 9 months of work. I mean it when I say work, researching and publishing a new article weekly and also coming up with a product to sell was challenging.

In terms of raw money earned per hour, it hasn't been particularly impressive, but 30x500 taught me to see customer pain in a completely different way, and to stop continuously reaching for SaaS as a solution to every problem.


30x500?


https://30x500.com/academy/

It's online course that teaches (or at least tries to teach) how to come up with ideas for products by getting better at spotting problems.


Thank you for candidly sharing your thoughts & experiences.

As a fellow bootstrapped entrepreneur (& programmer), I sympathize with what you're going through. Maybe it's the survivorship bias but I think you could try some things differently. I'm not sure you're open to receiving advice but I hope you find it at least well intentioned.

My biggest piece of advice is that only the sales channel really matters. People talk about product-market fit but that's kind of ambiguous. What you need to do is really understand some sales channel. Your real goal isn't to create the best product in the world, it's to own some sales channel for a particular category. Take movie theater food for example. It's shitty & expensive but keeps selling because it's the only thing available. It may even be helpful to ignore the actual product part and learn about understanding and identifying opportunities in sales channels first. Then you build the product to dominate that category.

Sales channels can be content marketing, google, facebook, amazon, trade shows, in person meetings, and more. For example, if you wanted to do content marketing. Instead of building a product and hoping that content marketing would work, you should learn about how content marketing actually works. Things like link building, content optimization, technical SEO, and keyword research. Then you could find categories you're interested and start seeing where the competitiveness is relatively low compared to the volume. You may also learn that content marketing usually takes 5-figure investments + months to work even in niche categories.

If you really understand a sales channel, the opportunities become obvious. Most people don't really understand why Gitlab succeeded or how it's different from Github. If you're running a dev ops team with a requirement for an on-prem OSS solution, then it starts to make a lot more sense. Another example is the dozens of companies working to port Wordpress apps to Shopify. They're not making the apps any better, they're just making them work on shopify by owning their category in the Shopify App Marketplace. Here's one idea I posted on Shopify hoping someone would build it: https://community.shopify.com/c/shopify-apps/how-to-add-a-ta...

All in all, I wish you the best. It seems like your heart is in the right place but you need improvement on strategy. You want to build something that people use but thought experiments aren't the way to figure it out. Coming up with more ideas probably isn't going to work out if you don't understand why the other ones didn't work out. An idea without understanding the context of how it will be sold is only a prayer. Talking to customers is great & reaching out manually is a sales strategy as old as time, but it's hard to build a company out of this without 4+ figure deals.

For me, it was figuring SEO and micro influencers. My first business was CBD products got to ~$500K/month in 2.5 years before selling it. I'm now investing in (and helping build for a few months) a cardboard cat homes business. It's completely unrelated except for the sales channels. It sells exactly the same ways and it hit $10K in its 2nd month of sales. After this 3rd month, it should be profitable and I can step away to help other founders start more ecommerce businesses.


I agree. Something to add for anyone starting a B2B SaaS, here's 2 big take aways:

- Pick an uncomfortably narrow niche and stick with it until you reach $10k-$100k MRR

- There are 4 main growth channels:

1. Inbound

2. Outbound

3. Partners

4. Ads

Pick only 1 for the first 12 months and master it.

If you're pre-revenue, I'd suggest to stay away from inbound & ads. You didn't prove yet there's demand for the problem you solve and that you provide value. And SEO takes too much time to get ROI back.

I personally suggest to start with outbound. Identify your niche, start reaching out (LinkedIn/emails/groups/forums/etc) and speaking with them. Get their advice on how big the problem you think is and how you're solving it. After giving their advice, if it is a valid problem, they'll be interested to learn more about your product and give it a go.

(Ideally do demos/onboarding for every customer <$10k MRR. You'll get invaluable amount of feedback by doing this)

Partners is another great channel for early stages B2B SaaS because of very low CAC. Find companies that share same customer profile and where each of you can provide value to each other.

P.S. - Going back to Inbound. SEO is not only inbound channel. One that is being very big right now and I recommend is LinkedIn. E.g. lemlist added 1m ARR via LinkedIn, just by building their personal brands there, posting and sharing a lot of valueable content. While doing outbound, you can also start posting on LinkedIn and building a network of your ideal customers and position yourself as an expert in the niche/problem you solve.


What do you mean by inbound and outbound? Based on 'outbound' description, I can sort of guess 'going out to find people' vs. 'waiting for people to come in', but that can't be quite right because then I don't see the distinction between ads and inbound, or rather surely ads is a (dominating!) subset of the latter?


Outbound - reaching out to people, whether it's email, cold calling, linkedin, what not. This is your sales team (SDR).

Inbound - blogs, vlogs, podcasts, guides, templates, checklists, webinars, content, answering quora, guest blogging, case studies, organic LinkedIn/social media. It's all about people stumbling on your content/online presence whether directly or indirectly, and then coming to you.

Ads - is a completely different beast. You're actively spending money to advertise your product.

> surely ads is a (dominating!) subset of the latter?

Dominating in what sense?


Most common/obvious/popular method of 'inbound' I suppose.


Great comment, especially liked what you had to say on sales channels.

You mentioned companies working to port Wordpress apps to Shopify. Do you know of any resources for learning more about that niche? Seems like it could be a fairly lucrative and low-friction pipeline for a solo dev trying to bootstrap.


Step 1. Get a list of the most popular woocommerce apps

Step 2. Look at the Shopify app store. Can find one with the features you need? Or one sucks? Build a better one.

I've already given an example of a table of contents generator for Shopify and how it should be specifically built.


I'd like to understand more about SEO and micro influencers. Do you write or share much on this topic or have advice?


I don't personally write much about it. There are many resources available though. The SEO ones are particularly easy to google.


I have not found much that can provide useful advice. And indeed, lots of conflicting advice. I wish those who were more successful at SEO could share what the top 3-4 things that really need to be done to turn SEO into actual conversions and revenue generation. Lots of fluff out there.

And what do you mean by microinfluencers?


SEO is much deeper than that and what's needed for your use case, depends entirely on your situation. At it's simplest, it's content + backlinks but to do it well, you have to get into the weeds.

I think https://backlinko.com/ is a pretty good resource.

Microinfluencer is the fancy internet word for free samples online to specifically chosen people. Either for direct conversions or some small level of word of mouth.


Great reads, thanks for posting. I've very recently been inspired to start being more open about my projects, so it's good to have a few more real-life examples of others doing it.


Wow, i loved the first link. Raw, like a field journal summary


Pieter had a successful YouTube before starting online businesses

His Twitter account was powerful and perfect for reaching wannabe nomads and remote workers.


Sure, in that sense, how anybody could consider his case replicable? additionally, each job post cost 600 bucks, unbelievable


Might want to look at Pieter Levels' open revenue for NomadList, he created both these sites: https://nomadlist.com/open

I believe he's pulling in ~2 million USD ARR with both combined. When I asked him about both ventures on the NomadList Slack group, he said that while NomadList originally made more money, RemoteOK started to make a lot more simply because it's B2B while NomadList is B2C. The difference between companies and individuals paying for stuff is vast. So he said to target B2B for startups in general.


I remember following his blog ten years ago when he was doing some YouTube music thing in Thailand. There was an post where he got burglarized in Amsterdam at one point.

Then he does the Nomadlist and RemoteOK thing. Because I followed him before he was a smashing success ($$$), it made me question the whole survivorship bias thing.

Then again it shows he was always a prolific content creator and always interacted with his audience.


Check this video out where he goes over his past projects: https://youtube.com/watch?v=6reLWfFNer0

The truth is, out of the dozen or so products he made, only two had real commercial success, NomadList and RemoteOK. So there is survivorship bias present, he just kept trying until he succeeded.


Pretty standard for an entrepreneur. I have a friend that's finally hit success, on his 19th attempt.

Me, I've had my first failure and I'm in the process of starting my second.


Starting your second failure, or second entrepreneurial project? :)


Very good point. Here is my take: maybe beiing able to build an audience is the main driver for success for a business (of course you also need a product). So the survivorship bias happened before you followed him.

Or more positive: maybe anybody who can build a big audience and knows to code will probably be successful in business.


Being a bit eccentric also. I discovered nomadlist after hearing what being a nomad was all about (whilst accidentally being one).

He had already been a nomad and made a pretty slick page. As more and more people became nomads it was always there to tie it all together.

For example, each city you go to will have a different crowd of nomads, different vibe, different meetup style, whatsapp or facebook, monthly weekly or casual events etc etc. However, this website ties it all together in a consistent fashion, I want to pick where I go next, how do I compare interesting things to me about a place I've never been.


How get invite to nomad slack?


Buy a NomadList subscription


Earlier this year he tweeted: "http://remoteok.io is a single PHP file called "index.php""

https://twitter.com/levelsio/status/1381709793769979906

This could theoretically be the most complex PHP file you have ever seen, but it's probably not. The message here is that's not what counts (number of files, complexity etc.). The message is: create something of value. If one PHP file does that, great.


> The message is: create something of value.

I've learned that lesson when working on a $100M ARR product that was basically thrown together PHP spaghetti code that was launched as a prototype and never was refactored again. Most terrible code I've ever seen, yet made a LOT of money.


If it makes sense to you, and you don't expect to grow an engineering team - go for it.

Some of my best stuff was built by embracing "done beats best practice."


Correct me if I'm wrong but he's also not an experienced engineer (or at least wasn't), he was self/google taught and focused on just making the vision he had, copying copious amounts of code from places like SO.

So it completely makes sense in his context. How was he ever going to focus on the other code qualities?

If on the other hand you're experienced it's probably about finding that trade off between perfectly orchestrated software and having something that delivers your vision in an acceptable amount of time.


The best language to use is rarely the hot language at the moment. You have to choose if you want to learn a business or learn a stack.

Not using php or something simple for you it will hold you back. Setting up a top of the line container devops system will slow you down and gives you a false sense that you are doing anything.

It is nice to start with the cleanest best office with a desk but if you spend your time focusing on making your office better you never focus on the actual job.

Years ago I worked for a guy who fell into this. Successful career in insurance industry but going through a failed mariage he pivoted and quit his job and started a recruitoring firm. The office he rented was near my college and he offered me a job.. I was employee #1. First day we decided to skip work and we went on a bonding trip playing golf and go by his exes house to steal a chair. Everyday he would find something to do from making business cards, to buying office supplies to going to colleges to randomly meet people and tell them what we did. He hired two more college students to make a website. Everyday he found something to do.. but he never sat in the office and made the calls he needed to. There was always something else to do. When the money ran out (very soon) and he crashed his car drunk. No one got paid (aside from me) in the backrupacy. In the end he ended up back in insurance in a new relationship he found along the way.

He was playing CEO. Don't play CEO or CTO. Sit down and make the difficult calls.


> How was he ever going to focus on the other code qualities?

Even if you can, you shouldn't expend a non-trivial amount of brain cycles on that, especially early on.

> If on the other hand you're experienced it's probably about finding that trade off between perfectly orchestrated software and having something that delivers your vision in an acceptable amount of time.

Don't.

As someone who built (and sold) a business before and is building a new one, I'd say it really doesn't matter before you get traction. Just ship the damn thing however you can!

The chance of a first-time founder succeeding is incredibly slim anyway. So, you're better off spending your time figuring out distribution and finding a good enough market.


I think engineers gonna engineer though, even if it's subconsciously or small stuff, hell it might be half the fun.

You could ask me to build a project with no trade offs regarding time to deliver, it's still not going to be in one single file, primarily because it's one of many "quick wins".


The key is not to go overboard. As a first-time founder, you don't know when to draw the line and focus on valuable stuff. It's very, very easy to get sucked into minutiae that don't matter at all (been there, done that). That's why I think first-time founders should ignore most engineering best practices and ship the prototype as fast as possible.

> primarily because it's one of many "quick wins"

Be careful with that, though. You might have an illusion that you're making progress, while in reality, you aren't.

I'm with you on having the fun part!


I was trying to figure out how support works for remote.ok and nomadlist.com, both Pieter’s products, short story: there is none. I got caught by lack of support for these SaaS multiple times for my company, it’s not fun. As a company owner I expect support. I don’t get why we would do our best to completely remove any kind of human interaction from the equation, I mean I get why, but then be very upfront about it and mention it clearly somewhere that your pricing cannot cover support.


I'm Pieter and that's simply not true. I have after sale customer support for both Nomad List and Remote OK.

What I don't have is support for people that aren't customers, because I don't have the resources to manage that.

If you're a paid customer on Nomad List or Remote OK you can report bugs which I'll fix, or request features, and if I like them I'll build them. That's most of my work every day. See Nomad List's bug reports channel for an example of it.

I'm also very lenient with giving refunds, if people cancel their membership on Nomad List they automatically get a refund if it's within 7 days. Without even asking for it. Anyone who posts a job on Remote OK and isn't happy I can re-post it for you or get you a refund etc.


What do you mean by lack of support? Lack of a person to talk to or just lack of reliability in the software?


My shameless plug of trying to "ride" the remote job boards trend https://99remotejobs.com.

What differentiates it from other similar job boards - it's free and job offers are syndicated to both SaaSHub and LibHunt.

My target is to keep it free until it get's some traction. And it seems it might be getting there. Last 2 days, job offers have been receiving about ~1,000 views.


I think doing the same might not work because the problem is pretty solved now. I recommend trying new niches like for ex crypto and web3 jobs or whatever trend is next.

I started Remote OK in 2015 when remote work was still HEAVILY frowned upon. Perfect time to start something. After COVID, remote work is now almost the default.

So go to a trend that's nascent and jump in, then strap on and ride it for years until it hits mainstream.


I'm jumping into the part-time jobs niche: https://parttime.careers

I am building this because I don't want to work full-time. So I want to collect all the part-time jobs.

We'll see whether I can turn it into a successful business. Even if I got 10% of the revenue of Remote OK, I would be very happy. Haha.


Godspeed to you!


Good luck, I've tried to do a niche job board as well before, but it never took off sadly.


The VS Code view is quite a nice touch :) https://remoteok.io/vscode


No mobile site though...


I know, neither does it seem particularly functional regarding filters and searches.


Why bust my ass at FAANG when I can just make a janky job portal and make 10x more.

Sigh. I wish I was street smart and not book smart.


If you truly think you can just throw together a 'janky' job portal and make 10x more you should stay at the FAANG.


Yup, there's a lot more bootstrappers who think the opposite: "why bust my ass doing 20jobs at once trying to get a business going when I could just show up and do plumbing and earn 10x more at FAANG."


First, life isn’t all about money. Although, If you don’t enjoy what you do you, it’s probably best to find something else.

Second, people make things like this all the time (anyone remember the million dollar web page where ads sold by the pixel?) - that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for you or me. It certainly doesn’t mean we should all be endeavoring to create the next PR sensation.

Finally, be careful what you wish for.


It's all about responsibility and ownership.

Pieter is responsible for everything - product, design, sales, marketing, documentation, customer support, etc.

At a job, you do your job and someone else does the other jobs. Less responsibility, less income.

I do recommend starting something like this on the side, and learning all of the skills listed above. In 5 years or less you can have a side project that makes more than your job with only an hour or two a day.


Yeah, right? I feel for some us at FAANG, our current comp is pretty hard to leave, but at least for me, the hardest point is to figure out something that people would pay for and that's not too hard to build alone. I feel like I'm living in a bubble with very little idea what non-tech people need. Is sad.


Why bust my ass digging ditches when i can make 300-500k as a FAANG dev and retire in a couple years? You FAANG guys have it better than 99% of jobs out there.


Wishing is a goal without clarity, goals are plans without preparation

Literally go for it


You can try building similar sites as much as you want, you won't get to that level. It's about timing, marketing, etc not just building something and done.


Maybe Pieter can chime in, but I don't think he's necessarily making 10x more than a FAANG engineer :)


$3M/y now with ~ 1/3 being investments. I don't know how much FAANG avg is but if it's $300k/y that's 10x


Speaking as someone who just quit their FAANG job to go out on my own, your comment is inspirational!

Thank you for your transparency.


What will you be doing?


What do you mean with investments? You reinvest 1/3 of the profits into the business?


it's a lot less about building and much more about marketing.


94.3% net profit margin?!? I am in the wrong business.


I love this, my company, Routefusion, which is not bootstrapped :(, is going to be posting quite a few jobs on here. Not only because we need to hire, but because this business is so open and transparent with everything, it makes me happy + makes feel like I understand exactly where my money is going. It also helps that the candidates on this board are probably very engaged which leads to better reply rates for the posters :)

Thank you for building this and inspiring even the non-bootstrapped people to do cool things like this!


I've been thinking about doing something similar with my SaaS business that does about $2k mrr, but did NOT consider something this comprehensive. Seeing this just inspires me even more to do the same.

Too bad the link to the open startup website is broken: https://open-startup.com/

would love to see this become a real collective. I'd join!


Slightly off-topic but it was Pieter's dashboards like these, specifically the robots downtime grid, that inspired to build my own internal metrics and status dashboard for my SaaS. I have beautiful 3rd party UIs for superfluous stuff like my stock portfolio, why not my own business's data? It's one of those things that can take some time to build and doesn't add much value for customers at first, but delights me each time I visit it. And now that I've started measuring a bunch of different stuff, it has ultimately translated into indirect better user experience because I spot anomalies earlier.


RemoteOK is a one source of my Python job aggregator https://news.python.sc/jobs/

As other commentators here pointed out, it’s obvious that a “job board” isn’t a product per se, but needs a solid audience: either through constant interaction with your followers (like Pieter does) or by corporate marketing spent (like monster.com)


This is another great example (even an extreme one) that in software, a small team can build great things. But it's a good thing for society that most companies are not like this. Otherwise, many of us won't have jobs.


Build great things? Come on, it is a job board depending on network effect. I mean it seems fine and all but it is not a great thing.


Not sure how you define great, but as long as you provide a platform for people to find new opportunities and is quite successful for both parties, I'd say it's great and quite an achievement.


It provides value for many companies and people. It's very profitable. Hence it's great in my book. The founder also built NomandList (also mostly by himself I believe) which helps many nomads out there to socialize and connect. Both qualify as great things.


Thank you. And yes Nomad List is also 99.9% hand built by me.


I'm wondering how much time do you put in contacting prospects and looking for customers ? and how big your team is ? I already heard of single person startups that are working very well but what about remoteok ?


None. I don't contact prospects, I don't look for customers. My "team" is just me doing almost everything from coding the site to making the database to the design to the logo to the marketing and PR.

Most of my traffic is word-of-mouth (look this guy made his own startup with just a PHP script and no team, eg this HN thread is marketing too) and from Google for "remote jobs".

Recently, I hired a part-time contractor for customer support on Remote OK. And @daniellockyer has been a very-part-time contractor to keep the VPS secure and fast over the years. But that's it.


Awesome looking dashboard! Really inspiring.


Your startup valuation is at ~$17M, would you sell it if you had an offer ?


Holy shit this is the most inspiring thing I've seen in a long while.


I was just looking for this site yesterday. Thanks Hacker News!


Pieter, why do you use the same font across all of your sites?


I like the font :D, and I like that red color too so I use it everywhere. Also to keep things simple


I think the font does not need to be same across different sites if they are giving different value/objectives.


I'd guess: because it's easy and it works, and it is far from the most important thing to work on?


It would be nice if you could filter by salary


Will add this soon!


Nice site.




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