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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.

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