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You're right, and this doesn't just apply to I.T. Startups. My step father (who is 70 years old, and still on the board of 6 companies) used to always say to us kids it takes "2 years" to start a company. In the article it says you break even somewhere through year two, which I think is what my father was referring to.

My own experience this seems likely too, I started my own startup about 6 months ago,( solo founder, I'm doing it all myself) and extrapolating my current customer base, and success rate, I think I will break even and then continue to grow organically at the 1.5 year mark.

On a side note here's some stats to keep you new founders going (just a little positive news to add to the mix):

- I'm a solo founder, you can do it too! It's less common, but I have determination like you wouldn't believe, I am up every morning at 4am to go for a run before I put in 3 hours of coding before leaving for my day job.

- I have invested about 500 pounds so far for the cost of the domain and hosting, that's my total expenditure (excluding my time coding it) I have made about 7000 pounds so far, in the last few months with my first customers etc.

- I consider my 'break even' part, to be when I can pay myself a 50,000 pound a year salary and can live comfortably , I think this will be about the 1.5 year mark as stated above.

Keep going all you solo founders, you can do it!

I'll chime in with the others in saying that the morning thing is a great idea. I've been trying to do evening coding for a while but end up just not having the energy. I put in my best hours of the day at work and coming home to work by myself on a project often just doesn't pan out. Switching this around, I can put in time for myself first then head into work and keep going for the remainder of the work day.

Yes mate, my logic was the same as yours ... I got fed up with being tired in the evenings and decided that my startup deserves the best of me, and my day job deserves just "regular" me

Evenings are for time off with my partner, we play ps3 together and generally relax ... I also spend the evenings reviewing my own code / doing administration and billing and other non brain intensive things ... makes for a good work/life balance

Totally agree. I moved close to my work (10 mins walk) and they let me start at 10am, so I can code for a couple of hours in the morning. I wish I had your motivation though... 4am, jesus :)

Can I ask, was it hard building your application 3 hours at a time? I lived off savings for about 6 months and worked full time, then after the hard parts were done I transitioned into the arrangement above. Even now I get a little frustrated as I just get into the swing of things, then I need to leave for work !

Thanks for posting by the way. I think more people need encouragement that while incubators are great, you don't need necessarily need them to be successful.

That's good advice for solo cofounders. The running is key for me. I'm not a morning person - at all - so I roll out of bed around 6 am, go to work for 8 hours, come home to run around 3pm (I enjoy the nicer weather in the afternoon and I get all my frustration out from my day job), and then I have a clear mind and lots of energy to get a few solid hours of coding done in the evening.

I do usually have to set aside a couple hours for family time. I used to bring my laptop and try to get something done, but it wasn't enough benefit to deal with the added stress while trying to enjoy family time.

So that's my advice:

* Do something to clear your mind and give you energy before you work on a side project/job

* Be realistic about when you can get things done - "you don't need more hours, you need smarter hours" ~ Rework

> I am up every morning at 4am to go for a run before I put in 3 hours of coding before leaving for my day job.

That is a great tip. I am struggling with coding in the evenings and on busy weekends. My day job is less demanding coding wise, but by the evening I don't have the energy to code more.

Great comment, and I wish you well. Getting up that early each morning shows real determination, and frankly it's not something I ever thought of. I’ve been trying to do evenings for years now, but there is always too many distractions so I think you are onto something.

yeah, my brain works really well after the run because it's full of fresh blood and oxygen. Seriously mate, 20 minutes of work in the morning after a run is better than 2 hours of work in the evening when I'm tired ... no exaggeration.

I hate running and exercise in general, but I promised myself I would do anything to get my company going, and anything includes things I dont want to do, so I force myself :)

Bonus points: Since I started running 6 or so months ago I have lost 28kg!

Just a quick question, what time do you go to bed?

I usually break up the day with the run. The great thing about being an iPhone developer is so easy to break even. In my first 2 weeks I broke even, it helped getting a mac for work. I continued to work for the next 15 months, until I had some savings, and was sure I could survive if things turned bad for a while.

Bed time is 9pm, and I try to be strict on it :)

How do you find customers? Are all methods guaranteed to take 2 - 3 years to break even?

For the example projects I gave the sales prediction one is growing the fastest, followed by the mechanical failure predictor. The sales prediction software should be 1.5 years to break even, the mechanical failure one probably a little longer. The other ones will fund my next TV / Macbooks / Holidays etc ...

My customers are usually start as friends / acquaintances / random business people I meet, then spreads through word of mouth.

Sorry if it's vague, let me be give my most recent example (The sales prediction software). I have a friend who is a manager of a small supermarket chain in New Zealand, I ask virtually every business owner I meet (anyone anywhere, including random people I meet on the train), a list of questions, one of which is "What is the biggest problem in your business at the moment" ... he said "Inventory Management". We got talking about his purchasing process, how he orders, what determines the levels he orders, all those sorts of things. I tell them to treat me like an idiot, this gets us to the root cause of the problem faster and also builds a good dynamic if I 'admit' I'm dumb ... I become less intimidating.

I then build MVP, iterate rapidly based on their feedback. MVP (v2) is always quite different to MVP (which is why I dont spend a lot of time on MVP)

Quickly my supermarket buddy is talking to his supermarket buddies saying "you have to use this software" ... so I make my customers do the selling for me. Kind of cheeky I know, but hey, it works.

I'm by no means a pro ... I have build a good 20 other projects that have all failed miserably. But leant from them all, and as I said in an earlier post, I have the sheer bloody minded determination that means failure can punch me right in the face and I will always get up again (haha)

Hey sorry for the late reply.

Asking people what their biggest problem is sounds like a good idea! I should do that too.

Have you tried telephone sales, by the way?

Congrats man! What are you working on?

I dont work on a single "Next Big Idea" .. I have several small projects that I am advancing, all of which use A.I. somehow, because that's what I'm interested in, that's what I love.

Some projects are: Optimal restaurant placement in large cities (based on demand and existing restaurants)

Prediction of mechanical failures in industrial systems (sorry I cant be more specific on this point) .. basically I predict mechanical failures based on MASSIVE amounts of sensor data so a technician can perform preventative maintenance on the equipment. This gives my client a huge competitive advantage because their equipment appears to never break down.

I wrote a sales prediction software for a large food company in Australia that predicts sales based on some important external factors (cant specifically mention them) but it gives them much better inventory management.

Interesting. Are you connected to the remote monitoring/diagnostics industry at all? I have tech. background in remote data collection and someone at my day job has been trying to get me interested in starting a business with him doing that. Data-driven maintenance is a rapidly growing field, but not very well known since there is very little in terms of consumer visibility.

If you ever want to bounce ideas off someone, I'd be happy to talk.

hey Malux can you e-mail me, details on my profile. I'm London based, i think we've got some similar interests and there's some stuff i'd like to talk about. Cheers.

when do you go to sleep? 4am - 8 hours?

Try to get to bed at 9pm :) +- 30 mins

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