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Ask HN: How many of you built a profitable startup while having a day job?
287 points by iworkforthem on Dec 2, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments



I have two profitable SaaS products that were built while I was theoretically working full time on something else. I was a bit fortunate that my "something else" was Consulting, which you can ramp down by exactly as many hours per week as you'd like to devote to your side project.

The thing is, if you use the term "Startup" here to describe anything other than a zero-profit 80hr/week scramble for VC funding and eventual acquisition, you're going to get people popping up and claiming that what you're doing is not startuppy enough to count. So for the benefit of that crowd, you might want to rephrase your question in terms of building a product that brings in enough revenue to quit your job.

If that's what you want to build, then yes. It's absolutely possible, and there are dozens of people here who have done so.


Your latter input is appreciated, but I'm not sure being a "full-time consultant" qualifies you to answer this question, which is almost certainly directed at those with less daily flexibility. If my site explodes in activity while I'm at work, I can literally do nothing to sop up any problems that might arise, unless I decide to try to cash in sick time and head out early, or sit on my hands til I get home. A fulltime consultant faces none of these issues.


> I can literally do nothing to sop up any problems that might arise

Have you trained your job (bosses) to understand that you take periodic breaks outside of the building (i.e. grab coffee)?

Once you have, you simply grab your bag, with personal laptop, hit the wifi enabled coffee shop, and stop or at least slow down the fire.

I've done it. You lack creativity :)


I've done it too... but yeah, it is not so nice for the employer. I'd much rather have someone like dclowd9901 working for me than someone like you or me.

If you do run a side business and keep a dayjob at the same time, you need to know going in that you won't be 100% for that dayjob. I mean, you can make excuses for it, like nobody is 100% for their dayjob; other people have kids they have to deal with, etc... but in the end? you are choosing your own interests over your employer's.

I'm okay with that.

(I mean, I was up front when I'm hired that I had this other thing going on; but I recognize that I was a much worse employee than I would have been otherwise.)


>...it is not so nice for the employer.

I can see how my comments and actions could be taken negatively, but I disagree with that generic statement. Yes it can be not so nice for the employer, but it could also have zero negative impact.

I was able to successfully do with zero negative impact. In fact, the flexibility that I trained my employer to have, made me a happier and more productive employee for that company. The ability to attend to my personal business, regardless of what it was, made me appreciate them and work harder for them.

>I'd much rather have someone like dclowd9901 working for me than someone like you or me.

Please don't lump me into that category.


>Please don't lump me into that category.

It's quite possible that I'm wrong, of course.


I assume that when you say consultant you meant contractor. Consultants generally get paid without work being done. eg. patio11


>you're doing is not startuppy enough to count

I have always had a problem with that. A start-up is a start-up if you decide it's a start-up and want to transform it into a viable business. There is no magic line that you have to cross to transform your project into a start-up. I always advice people to call their projects a start-up from the beginning.


> I always advice people to call their projects a start-up from the beginning

Could you expand on why you advice this, meaning, what is the advantage of it? According to your post simple message above it could be the other way around (always call your startup a project).


First of all, it makes you take it seriously. It's not a side project that you are doing. You think of it as work as something that is going to pay your bills at some point. You work harder, you take smarter decisions and you start thinking about customers early.

Secondly, other people take it more seriously. Everyone has some sort of a side project, very few people have a start-up. They give you more time and listen to your more intently.

All anecdotal, no data to back any of the claims.


It boosts morale and makes you more excited to work on your project.


I prefer not calling projects startups, Since, I try many projects, So, calling something startup, after "rails new project_name" sounds like a disgrace to a startup to me.

(ofcourse, opinions differs)


Well said.


I built review site ten years ago and sold it.

It was profitable within 6 months off organic traffic and lead gen. Approximate revenue by year: $10k, 40k, 70k, 100k, 150k, 250k, 500k, 750k, 1.5M, 2.5M.

Built entirely while working for another startup (unrelated), first 3 years I was in graduate school, year 4 I was a product manager for another startup. Year 5 I finally took the leap to run it full-time.

I was the sole owner, never had more than 7 employees, and I sold it for a bit over $10M (ttm revenue was around $700k at the time).

Leading up to launch, I typically worked 10-7 at my day job, then wrote my code from 8p-1a M-F (20 hrs) and all day on the weekends (20 hrs), so 40 hrs per week. During school, my wife handled the sales part-time (16 hrs/wk), and I probably spent 8 hrs a week on it fixing bugs, implementing ad deals etc. In Year 4, I spent ~16 hrs a week on it outside of my day job (misc. tech upkeep, link building, PR, etc.).

It's definitely doable, but your SO needs to be on-board because you'll be taking the time away from them. Or do it before you have a SO to worry about.


I'm almost in the same boat right now. I built a niche Adsense-supported social networking site around mid-2009 and my approximate revenue by year is something like: $100 (Y1), $13.5k (Y2), $90k (this year). Assuming no growth next year, it should be around $130k.

I hope you don't mind me asking these questions since I'm in the thick of it myself at the moment. I'm new here so I hope I'm not breaking etiquette.

At what point did you realize you needed help and then decide that you can actually afford it?

What made you decide to hire your 1st employee rather than a co-founder?

What role did your 1st employee have?

What kinds of employees did you end up hiring?

How did you find your employees?

Any insight would be appreciated!


We hired someone to handle customer service in the 2nd year. We also had some manual processes that they handled for building out the site. Since we'd been doing those things ourselves for a while, we optimized the processes a lot and had a bunch of templates, so training someone else was pretty easy.

W/r to hiring vs. getting a co-founder... I strongly prefer hiring if at all possible. The rule of thumb I go by is that you should only use equity to get skills you can't rent/buy (e.g. a big network or personal brand).

The skills we hired for, in order, where:

Sales/account management as needed (wife) Accounting/bookeeping, part-time (wife) Customer service, part-time (stay at home mom; part-time) Sys admin, very part-time (did as much as possible myself) Project-specific Java developers, part-time/moonlighters All-around Java developer, first FTE (did everything including some light sys admin) Additional Java developers Additional customer service Product manager

Most of our employees we found via Craigslist, or via our personal network. Later we used a recruiter to find Java developers. But hiring for developers was always a big problem.

I think part of the reason recruiting is a unique challenge is that you'll (probably) never be the hot shiny new startup with pedigreed VC's vouching for you. It's lame, but employees rely on those signals to separate dead-end startups from something "real". Of course, the more likely scenario is that VC-backed company without revenue is far more at risk for being an elaborately doomed ponzi scheme than your profitable micro ISV. Whatever... You have to try harder with everything else you can control-- comp, office environment, developer-friendly culture, technology stack, profit-sharing if you're so inclined, etc.

Good luck. You'll be glad you took this route down the line.


I've started to find that I'm reaching the limits of my time constraints what with holding down a full time corporate job. I've been trying to expand my network to get in touch with good developers that I can pay on a part-time basis for now since I can't afford anyone full-time. Even harder to find a decent part-time sys/db admin here in NJ! Thanks very much for the insight.


No problem. I should have also mentioned that we didn't add our first FTE until revenue was about 3x my corp job, so close to $350 at the time. My theory was that even if revenue dropped by half overnight, it would be possible to keep our FTE employed and scrape by long enough on the remainder to either wait it out or decide to fold (and that's with a year's worth of cash on hand). But I'm super risk averse, and others probably could handle less buffer.


Regarding your SO, I agree that it's important to have someone that understands how you make money and what's required to build a business.

The question I have is, how much more beneficial was it to have your SO involved at some meaningful level? Sales is an interesting spot because it makes a case for itself to justify the time required.

Are there any pros / cons of involving your SO directly and at the core of your business that you'd be able/willing to share? I'd be really interested to know. Thanks for sharing.


Several of my smaller suppliers have their SO do the books for the business. It's very common. It's really common to have a family member do bookkeeping, just because of the trust level involved. (My sister does my books.)

My SO has done some programming for my company; some of it has been really great, some of it not. (She is generally way more competent than me or anyone else I can afford, but her background is embedded systems, you know, c, c++, vhdl; that sort of thing, and all the prgmr.com stuff is perl and bash, so you get a really good programmer writing stuff in languages they've never used before. It can be... interesting to read.)

It really all depends on communication. Can you tell her (or him) that the thing they built isn't what you need and use something else?

I mean, I'm the oldest of 6, and I've been hiring siblings for as long as I've had siblings, so I have a lot of practice saying "no, that wasn't what I wanted" and even "I don't need your help for now" without burning bridges, and I think my SO is willing to accept constructive criticism.

I mean, the usual rules for hiring family apply, I think, only more.


Cool. The trust factor makes sense. So does being the oldest and being able to say yes or no.


Would it be all right if I asked you some questions on the lead gen front? My email is in my profile.

Thanks


I started StyleFeeder in January, 2005, built it into a profitable company of 8 people and sold it to Time Inc in January 2010.

From January, 2005 through May, 2006, I worked on StyleFeeder on the side - while I had a pretty demanding day job, mind you - as I built up the basic business... until I had invested so much time and effort into it that I was maxed out and needed to find a way to work on it full time with the help of others.

I don't see any plausible way that I could have made it into anything significant while at the same time working a day job. I think some people can do it with some businesses, but I think it would have been impossible in my case.

But the bootstrapping phase, yes, I think you can do that while working a day job. That's very common.

More details here:

http://www.whirlycott.com/phil/2011/08/05/stylefeeder-histor...


Hey - we're building a similar site (fashion search, UK based), and yours has always been one of our comparison sites. Nice job, didn't realize you were a HN'er :)


Good luck to you with your new venture! I'm easy to find online and will be happy to answer any questions if you like.


Very interesting post, is there a one detailing how you started?


Sorta...

http://www.whirlycott.com/phil/2005/10/17/stylefeeder-step-1...

LMK if that's not what you are looking for.


Well, I would be happy to hear about things such as: * Which features did your first version have? * How did you get your first users? * Did StyleFeeder rely on B2B connections, if so how did you find/create them? * What was StyleFeeder's business model? * When did you start looking for funding/why/how? Thanks for the time and experience sharing!


Those are short so I will just answer them here:

* Basic social sharing of products, fancy bookmarklet, following other people and then we quickly moved into some high-end realtime recommendation technology.

* At first, it was just friends and family spreading the word. Our first big jump came after our bizdev guy joined and he did a deal with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to feature us on their homepage and for them to create accounts and share products they were interested in with their fans. We did a bunch of other celebrity stuff. Then, we really grew right after the Facebook platform launched. SEO was also a major factor.

* B2B connections were largely a waste of time.

* 90% affiliate, 10% advertising.

* Funding: I didn't pursue it at first, but smarter people than I saw the bigger opportunity that I hadn't tuned into yet and made introductions.


Do you mind sharing how raising money helped you guys? You were only 8 people and raised $4M.

Edit: Had you reach 7 figure revenue yet?


Easy: without venture funding, I would have just been a guy sitting on the couch at home with nobody to work on this with. And the hosting costs alone to run a site that large are around $25K/month.

Yes, we had reached 7 figure revenues many years ago, long before the acquisition.


25K a month? Really? That's like 50 medium Amazon instances.. all for at most a couple million uniques a month? What were you doing that required so much servers?


Hosting options and costs were radically different a few years ago.


If you're all presuming that EC2 is some magical pixie dust for reducing the costs of running a large site, that's not the case. We had ~10 EC2 boxes and 15 managed servers at Contegix, CDN, Dynect, email service provider and a few more services thrown in.

It's not any less expensive today because those numbers I gave are current numbers.


How did you know it was time to raise? Was it because you could not afford the hosting bill anymore, or that you were getting lots of traffic and not enough time to build out the product, or...?


I finally had a better understanding of the context of the opportunity and started to think big. And I found people I liked who understood the vision and were willing to back the idea.

The hosting bill back then was ~$100/month since it all ran on a single box so, no, that wasn't a factor. It was a question of opportunity and not costs.


Great. I am in the space, so I may email you some day for more insights. Thanks again for the answers.


around how much was Stylefeeder acquired for? I always thought fashion search/bookmarking was a commodity...


http://www.quora.com/How-much-was-StyleFeeder-acquired-for

Sure, fashion search/bookmarking is a commodity - that's why those sites don't succeed.

I think discovery services are more nuanced than this and it's easier to understand the value they bring both to users and retailers, so we positioned ourselves as a "personal shopping engine." The goal was to shift users away from the Google search box towards a service geared towards shopping. I'm sure you can see value in that.

Hot company du jour is Pinterest... probably headed towards 3B pvs/month and recently closed a round of funding at $200-250M. Keep an eye on them if you think it's all still a commodity. It just depends on what lens you look through. Part of the challenge is putting aside one's cynicism and trying to positive about what your company _can_ be or _could_ be if people take it seriously.


Very true... it depends on how you look at it...

Also, it seems you sold StyleFeeder at the right time: http://siteanalytics.compete.com/stylefeeder.com/ Looks like Time Inc isn't doing a great job with maintaining and increasing users.


I found it incredibly difficult to provide the value I'd expect out of an employee at a "day job" while building my business on the side. Ultimately, I took a different route. Note that this plan works best for young, single folks. This is also not a "get rich quick" scheme. Positioning myself took about three years on its own, much less getting going on a start-up. Keep in mind that this was my plan. It is not the only (or best) plan, but it worked for me.

* Position yourself for minimum cash outflow. Minimizing your cash needs means you can take bigger risks. I found a decent 500 sq ft apartment and drove a cheap car. Without a family, all my other expenses were dirt cheap.

* Save up a three month buffer and strike out on your own gig, but not your start-up yet. I chose consulting because the income potential is so high and it provided a great networking opportunity. I doubled my annual income (from my old salary) within a year, but far more importantly, I was able to accomplish a few transitional steps in getting my start-up going:

- I built a relationship with a great developer by feeding him work from consulting clients.

- I built relationships with other business owners and took a lot of time to understand their business.

- Ultimately, I met the person who would connect me with the greatest team I've ever worked with.

By the time I found the right team and opportunity, I had a year's worth of expenses saved up, and a small amount of money to contribute to the operational expenses of the company. Coming to the table with cash in-hand gained me a lot of respect from other team members. Because everyone came to the table with their own income streams, we were able to bootstrap and now, 100% of our equity is founder owned. That's a pretty exciting reality for us.


Yes. For 4 years now...2 hrs in the morning 2-4 hrs at night + bigger chunks on the weekends.

When I look at my day job I only ever get 4 hrs of real work done anyway...with wasted time for meetings, bureaucracy, and being blocked by others. So even though I'm at work for 8+ hours, on my free time, I'm able to work on a similar sized project putting in less hours because there is usually no waste in that time. I've also got 2 kids and train 4 times a week at the gym or jiu jitsu. It can be done!

After reading a few more comments I want to add something. Work hard at your day job, do your best work, and make them dependent on you. Here is why...if you ever come in late, or leave early because there is a crisis on you side project your employer usually won't care. Your the superstar so that's expected. However, you've got to keep your day job really, really happy to walk this fine line between pursuing your own interests and meeting the needs of your day job. Plus when you have a successful side project (that maybe can't support you just yet) and you're out job hunting people will see you as a golden ticket, a diamond in the rough. Usually when I interview people I often ask what they're working on on the side. That indicates to me this person has drive and determination.


I built Visual Website Optimizer during weekends and during evenings after work (while I was working full time at another day job). Initial prototypes and first beta version took about 6-8 months. Beta remained for about 4 months, had thousands of beta users by then, quit my day job, polished beta for 2 more months and then launched paid plans. Today we are a team of 8 people (and hiring more) and many happy customers.

To be honest, I think the time constraints posed by day job (you got only 2-3 hours of working on your startup) really made you focus on important stuff (such as working on user feedback and iterating). Plus, the comfort of having a salary provided let you invest in site design, marketing, AdWords, etc. without having you unnecessarily worry about "funding" or borrowing from parents/friends.


I'm so happy VWO came to be :).


I'm not sure if they are considered startups per say, but I've started two profitable companies while working a day job (to the point where I could quit my day job!) http://www.AUsedCar.com and http://www.BudgetSimple.com . I should say I also created a failed startup during that time. The biggest difference between the successes and the failure were that the successes did not require me to answer phone calls, make sales etc... In other words, completely passive income businesses are the easiest to do with a day job.


I'd be interested in talking about BudgetSimple and some specifics of tactics and implementation if you have the time and interest. Handle at whitetailsoftware dot com.


The Budgeting app is nice. How are you making income off it? It's free and has no adds.


It's freemium, there's a Pro version you can upgrade to


Hi ry

AUsedCar.com

How does that site compare in a very busy market with established big name players?

Thanks


It's very difficult to compete with the big names, but even .01% of a huge market adds up to something significant.

edit I should also say I started this a LONG time ago, so I have a long tail SEO advantage. I wouldn't envy anyone trying to start a used car site today.


How much did that discourage you in the beginning (the thought of it being extremely hard to compete w/the big names)?

I ask b/c I've been developing an app of my own and this is one of the doubts I have. I love building stuff too much to let that stop me, but it's still something I think about from time to time.


Well the beginning was 1995, so I was competing with Newspapers and Weekly Magazines more then websites. People would refuse to let me list their car for free because they were scared of the Internet.


What are you main sources of revenue for AUsedCar?


I wanted to do this so jumped in and read the comments to this post to try to get some ideas on how to do this. They made me a bit depressed: Most people achieved this while working as a consultant (i.e. flexible hours, etc.), not as a big company employee, like me. Also from what I gather, many data points come from young people, unencumbered with a family life and kid(s).

So, my more specific question is: Has anybody done this while picking up your kid from daycare at 5pm, having family business until 8:30pm and working at a day job. Id this impossible?

I think the viable alternatives in this case are trying to earn money from blogs and mobile apps.


I hear ya... This is something I struggle with too. Long workday at Mega Corp., 45min+ drive-commute each way, 3 kids (7, 5, 2), a spouse with a highly variable work schedule, and ongoing charity work.

It's really, really hard to make time for a side business in there too.

Are you working on something? How are you making the time for it? How's your progress?


You have to cut that commute. It's not possible losing 1.5 hours a day.

My commute is 100 foot walk, I still strugle with not having enough time.

Sell the house and rent closer to the office. If its the midpoint between two jobs, either you or your wife needs find a new job to shorten the distance between them. If it is because of the school districts for your kids, you are going to have to decide your priorities.

But realize that the long commute is a choice entirely within your families control and you need to change it.


Alternatively, take advantage of your commute. I switched from driving to public transit and I've found the time can be incredibly productive, as its in between work time and at home family time, which makes it much easier to concentrate on what I need to do.


Many folks can't make that switch (from driving to public transit) because there isn't reliable and/or suitable public transit for that route -- but this doesn't change the point.

Look for housing that is either very close to where you work (remove the commute) OR that's well-placed for a simple and comfortable commute on public transit (try it out a few times, at the times you'd be using it!) where you can also get some side-project work done.


I am in a similar position. I'm 26, my girlfriend is 27. We're both medical students doing our clinical rotations. I'm near the top of my class in med school and my girlfriend is similar. We have a 4 year old daughter as well. I'm currently working on my startup and keeping my girlfriend happy.

Some tips: - Weekends are not for your startup. Weekends are for your wife and kids. I work on my startup after I finish putting my daughter to sleep at 8:30pm. I finish working by 11pm or midnight.

- Your wife is going to be the one picking up your slack. Make your life easier by making her life easier. For me that means taking on more responsibility around the house(I'm vigilant about dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and doing laundry). I do this stuff as soon as I get home so she can play with our daughter instead of doing housework. This keeps my girlfriend's stress levels down and makes my startup seem less burdensome. - Take on tasks that require you to sit around for long periods of time. Today I took our car to get serviced and coded in the waiting area.


Some small tips that can make it more doable.

* If you can, take the train into work. That's about 1.5 hours of additional productive startup time. Sitting in a car is dead time.

* Get rid of your lunch hour. Park yourself at a nearby Starbucks and add an extra hour each day of productive startup time. Do this every day.

* Given your spouse's variable work schedule, my guess is that your most productive time is in the evening, after kids are in bed. Can you shave off 2-3 hours per night? Better managing this time is huge.

There may be other things that are specific to your family life that can give you 30-60 minutes here and there. Time slicing like this is hard, but it adds up to meaningful startup time.


About the lunch hour, one always needs to be careful of the rules of the company they work for regarding intellectual property. Working from a Starbucks shields you from using company equipment/network, but I'm sure in some cases, lunch time is not exactly your own time.

But otherwise, great points!

As far as I'm concerned, my commute doesn't allow me very convenient public transportation. (though I should look into it again) Another thing is that I'd be a bit worried for my laptop since I would go through some somewhat shady areas…

And for the lunch hour, it's sometimes difficult to resist the appeal of socializing with colleagues. Sure you can do it at other times and it's a sacrifice, but it's still a temptation.


If you're worried about legal issues with working on your own projects during lunch time you can easily sidestep that problem by spending that time learning instead of making.


if you have (or could have) problems working your laptops (you cant install apps, you dont want others see your personal project stuff on your pc etc..), you still can:

* work in the cloud (virtual server, ec2 instance, web based tools etc..) using a internet USB key on the train

* use another OS instance in a virtualized environment (i.e. virtualbox installed in a usb key) and install all the stuff you need in this VM (im not sure you can do it w/o admin priviledges in windows)

* boot a linux distro from USB key so you still use your laptop but completely without touching your original OS


great tips. Anything for me?? I work in a typical IT services company in India. 1Hr commute one way, have teleconference calls till 11pm. then eat and sleep. But should be in office by 10AM. The problem is my wife also works in the same project. :-( Fortunately we are in a joint family. food, my sweet baby, cleaning, washing etc.. are all taken care.


Make a schedule where every minute of every day goes for 2 weeks and you'll know what to cut. Having joint family support to do everything for you is a big help already.


I do this. In all honesty, it is tough but not insane / impossible. I'm usually home @ 6:00 pm and with my daughter until she goes to bed at eight. I spend two hours with my wife until she goes to bed usually around 10. After that, rather than play video games, watch tv, etc, I work on a side business until one or two am in the morning.

I'm lucky in that my whole life I've been good with really only needing 5-6 hours of sleep a night so, when my daughter wakes up at 7:30 and I go get her out of the crib I'm usually good to go.

So, it's really a matter of prioritization. I play a video game once in a long while, read books slower than I used to, never really watch tv (but parenthood also removed that possibility) and I have the time.

Customers and customer support are where it gets tricky as you will be juggling two companies that operate 9-5. In that scenario I more often than not give up my lunch hour at job 1 to work on job 2.

Not saying it's perfect however, if you want it, it's there for the taking.


One thing you might want to look at is putting in some time in the mornings with your best energy instead of at the end of a long, long day. Early to bed, and early to rise might work for you.


Absolutely. I started waking up at 6 am and working until 8:30 a month ago, and it's been a great boost in my productivity.


Cool. I've been having good luck with on and off. The hard part is getting back into an early sleep routine when I have the odd late night. Anything you do to help reset the routine?


I just try not to have odd nights... so far, the worst I did was going to bed at 0:30 - at that time after working 15 hours I was so tired, that I wasn't productive at all anyway, so I decided to call it a day


I find I often have a late(r) Friday due to some volunteering.

Nice to see I'm not the only one enjoying the mornings, even though I've historically been a night owl.


Funny thing is, I'm a night owl myself. But I was tired of using all my more productive time for my employer, and all my tired nights for myself ;)


Thats exactly what I found too, total night owl too.

The people I work for don't always want/need my highest creativity, but my reliable attention to detail and high quality work. It's nice to innovate in the mornings for my own stuff.


I have read posts of these kind for quite some time. All of them suggest. ... Wake up early, exercise, work for 2 Hrs and then get ready for normal life. I have been trying to do this but failing miserably, cos my body doesn't cope up. I say start exercising regularly once it becomes a routine then start working on your start-up.but don't forget exercising. Having said all that it boils down to one point. WILL POWER.


nah, just new habits. Like this guy who got up at 3:45am for 135 days:

http://ryanwaggoner.com/2011/01/135-days-of-getting-up-at-34...


The downsides are greater too. It's one thing to miss out on TV or drinks with friends; quite another to miss out on the one evening you might get to sit with your wife and have dinner, or not see your kids for a week.

It doesn't matter how rich or respected my side-project startup would make me, I wouldn't be able to get that time back.


Yeah, don't skip on the family time. Your family (spouse) will resent it.


I dont have a TV. Not going to buy one till I finish my dream project


I juggle two companies and refuse to give up family / wife time.


Are you asking 'can I easily make 10k a month, working only 8 a week on it (a few hours here and there at night an in the weekends) and do it without having anything special (connections, experience, market knowledge, ...)' ? If so, the answer is most likely 'no'.


I think the best thing to do in your situation is to work on a project you really enjoy on the weekends. It'll be the equivalent to or replacement of games or other forms of entertainment. Try to write a blog relating to your project on the weekdays, even before you launch your product. By the time you launch, you'll have a good audience. Even if your project doesn't get traction, you technically didn't waste your time for nothing, because it was an enjoyable experience. :)


I'm exactly at this point. A big company, wife, 1 yr old, always wanted create something of value, don't really need it to be super profitable, etc. I have outsourced everything except product management and my only marketing plan is "Show HN".


I started doing affiliate marketing and building websites on the side for about two years before handing my notice. I could have quit after few months where my revenues from the side job exceeded what I had in my day job as a software developer. Nevertheless it took about 2 years because I was scared, I should have quit much sooner. Now 4 years later we are doing 7-figures a year.

I think its the best way to start a company because you are only risking sweat-equity. The danger is that your day job holds you from growing your startup more.


What's the per-site median monthly income?


In the last couple of years I have built up Deal Drop (http://www.getdealdrop.com) to be $3,000/month in revenue as an antidote to the abusive relationship with my day job while helping raise my daughter of the same age. I hoped by now that I could quit and work full time on the side project but I settled for a less abusive day job instead.

This week I took a trip to the ER in an ambulance because I had a seizure at my new day job after one too many late nights working on the side project.

Be careful and know your limits better than I do.


I use Deal Drop daily on my iPhone/iPad. It's a great application, thanks for your work.


It took me 10 years of working on a few apps on the side, but today they are a $600K/year business and my full time job. Not the shoot-for-the-moon social apps everyone wants to do, but I'm quite happy.


Desktop apps I presume if you've been working on them for 10 years? B2B or B2C?


I did. My iPad app was at $19,000 in profit before I quit my job to focus on it. The details are here:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3238834


I had read your post when it was published. Very cool, has a social touch and inspiring!


Thanks!


I started http://www.justunfollow.com as a way to learn Google Appengine. Sent a tip to TechCrunch, @arrington seemed to like it and profiled it. It started making profits but I did not quit. I finally had to quit after about 1 year of this product going live because it started making me more money in 2 months than my day job was paying me for an entire year!

I quit my job around 9 months ago. Finding too much of time on hand I subsequently started work on a new app, got my friend to join me and we got into Start-up Chile. It's been a great journey but I'm so glad that I did not quit the moment we were profitable. It has taught me the most important thing you need to learn while starting up, being efficient.

I always suggest everyone who has a product to not quit until it is virtually impossible to keep up with a day job. You then become a time management champ and know how to do more with less :)


Am I reading that correctly that that site is making 25k+ a month? How is that possible? Do people pay for the site or is it from ads only?


I did not put any numbers anywhere about our profits. We have a freemium model. Ads are just a small part of the revenues we make.


"making me more money in 2 months than my day job was paying me for an entire year!"

Day job of 50k / year, over 2 months, so per month 25k. 'Making money' = profit, otherwise I could be 'making' 250k / month by opening a BMW dealership and selling 2 per month - which in the real world would bankrupt me Very Quickly.

So, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but didn't you say that you were making 25k or more?


I'm from India, we make money in our currency which is Rupees (INR). I do know that 'making money' = profit and that is exactly what we are making. I'm not selling BMW cars. I write code which takes my time but needs no money, host it on GAE and AWS, which is not so expensive and so make a very good profit.

Yes, you are misunderstanding what I said by pushing those figures.


Oh OK, so then you were making in the magnitude of $250 - $500 / month back then, that seems plausible. I wasn't saying that you are selling BMW's, what you sell doesn't matter - my point was that people use 'make money' when they mean 'revenue', so the BMW is my standard example for illustrating the difference.

I'm not sure why I'm being down voted - my numbers are quite plausible, I was just doing a sniff test. It would've been quite remarkable if a simple site like that would've been making several k / month after just 2 months.


I built an online payroll service for Canadian families who hire staff like nannies or home care workers, or small businesses that wanted a very simple payroll solution. At the same time I had a day job.

I wasn't raking in money but I had customers and my revenues exceeded my small expenses.

Over the summer I sold the company and went to work for the acquiring company. In retrospect, this was probably the best move for me (I had considered taking investment to move to it full time.)

Like one of the answers above, I don't think I could have grown the business significantly without spending more time on it, and for me (day job, 3 young kids) this was the only way I could have done it.


I have built Pluggio.com that has $3500/month profit on the side. It's been built in approx. 2 hours a day during the past two years.


Justin, you probably meant revenue and not profit :-)


I've been running side businesses while having dayjobs most of my working life. One of those side projects, my xen vps hosting company, is now my dayjob. Of course, you might not call it a startup; I'm not really looking to sell (I mean, I would if someone wanted to give me a 10x revenue valuation or something silly like that, but I doubt that will happen.) and it's north of six years old, but revenue is doubling every year or so, and it pays my rent and covers another full-time employee (plus contractors)

Having a well-paying dayjob changes things. You will want to hire your first employee long before you would if you were working full-time at the startup. You will want to spend money rather than do work more often than you would otherwise. Assuming you have a high paying dayjob and you are willing to live cheap, your runway is now measured only in terms of your motivation.

Note, you will not be performing 100% at the dayjob. I got asked to choose between the dayjob and my business only once, though, and that was near the beginning, before I really learned to compartmentalize, and when I was most focused on my business.

My style of work is and always has been very burst-y, which works out well. When I wasn't that focused on the business, I'd get a regular dayjob and top off my COBRA and rent money. When I was focused on the business, I'd either focus on the business completely or work contract gigs for extra money. It's interesting; if you contract through a body shop for non-expert work? (e.g. if they rent you out as a normal programmer/sysadmin?) it pays only slightly better than doing the same job as a direct employee (sometimes a little worse if the benefits for the direct employee are good) but the expectations for your work are much lower. I mean, think about it; if they are paying about the same for a contract as for a full-time with benefits job, do you think they are going to get good people? The lowered expectations along with the ability to spend pre-tax dollars on company equipment made that a pretty good deal for me.

Especially during the money-losing phase (and this /will/ be longer than it would have been if you were full time.) the taxes are complex and can make a huge difference. get a good accountant, and listen to him or her. Small bullshit changes can make the difference between spending pre tax money buying servers and spending post-tax money on those servers.


My technical blogs, while not technically a startup, do have the habit of making me mid-four figures per month with very few hours per month investment.


I just finished reading your book. It is very well done. I recomend it to everyone interested in this thread. (http://technicalblogging.com)


I agree. I'm blogging now (side project, about ~1k/month via an ebook) and Antonio's book would have saved me a lot of time. I'm planning on using it to boost up that number :).


Thank you so much. I appreciate your endorsement.


I have built, launched, and run Swappa http://swappa.com while having a day job. Revenues won't support me quitting yet (or anytime soon), but Swappa is profitable.


I'm doing that right now. My startup is selling you, your kids and the girl next door. Heck, I can even sell your grandmother!

Advertising agency's (my day job) can rent them for a fixed price. Royalties included.

(I'm not spamming. You're not my targets and only Dutch people can read it anyway). But have a look at the several hundred people that signed up if you're interested: http://royaltyfreemodels.nl/zoeken/page:11

(It's run on CakePHP for the interested).


I started working on a bug tracker (who hasn't at some point, right? :)) because we were using Bugzilla at work and I absolutely hated it and didn't think it fit with our workflow at all.

About a year later I brought it to the team and we decided to switch to it. A few months of light iteration and polish after that and we launched it as it's own product (https://bugrocket.com) for $20/month.

Pretty happy with how it's going, too. It hasn't really interfered with the 'day job' at all besides the occasional email to answer or tweet to reply to. We have really flexible hours here so I shift my day around sometimes to accomodate both projects. Totally do-able.

edit: Seems there is some interest in the 'family situation' of these success stories. I'm married (with kittens, no kids) and it generally hasn't been too difficult to keep a balance. It's helped me a lot having some people working with me (especially on non-technical bits), and not just alone as a single founder. It's hard to say how much time I actually put in because it's kind of a 'here and there' whenever there's the opportunity kind of thing. I'd probably estimate 3-5 hours during the week and then either a lot (8+ hours) or nothing on the weekends, depending on else is happening.


I do this now.

I was doing client work, and to be frank, got tired of working from home and dealing with low-grade clients all day. So instead of worrying about finding better clients, I took a day job to support myself and my family (wife and kids) while I worked on side projects with my co-founder.

To date, we've built a fun iOS game, Santa Strike, a crowdfunding plugin for WordPress, IgnitionDeck, and a few yet to be launched iOS apps, among other simple software utilities like Iconswitch.me and GameDesignTemplate.com

I drive to and from work an hour a day, which kills me, but we're very close to being profitable enough so I can quit my day job.

We're not zillionaires yet, but I do think it's possible to do what you're asking. However, it's very very difficult, especially when you have a spouse and/or kids.

I work on my stuff from 7-8 am, drive to work, try to fend off the thought of being an unproductive employee so I don't get fired (I'm actually the only developer they have, and I'm in a very good position because my predecessors set the bar so very low), but do spend some time at work handling side-project stuff, get home at 6:30, hang out, work more, go to bed, rinse, repeat.

My wife is stressed because my mind is elsewhere, but she understands. We spend time on the weekends going out and doing family stuff, but not as much as we'd like.

When we ship new versions of software, I field customer inquiries and complaints on the go, which isn't ideal, but is what it is.

In other words, I have very little personal time, it's very stressful for the entire family, and it's a lot of hard work over a long period of time. It's not for the faint of heart.


I co-founded Submedia in 1999 while finishing my PhD in physics at Columbia. By then the other we worked on the project three years developing the technology, writing patents and business plans, etc.

I defended my thesis around that time too.

I consider conserving cash fundamental. The stipend for a PhD candidate was under $30k/year for living in Manhattan. I wasn't in subsidized housing and had no savings or other source of income.


Submedia.tv? What is Submedia?


We put boxes on the walls of subway tunnels that, when the train passes, look like movie screens to riders. We sell ads on the displays on a monthly basis and share revenue with transit authority.

Some videos here: http://www.submediaworld.com/submediaworld/Submedia_Tunnel_A...

I also make art with the medium, but that's another story.


That's badass. I would ENJOY watching those.


I have a start up in the black since 2006. All three partners contribute to the code, help debug, and provide customer support. All of us work at other jobs, or independently.

Currently we use profits to pay anyone willing to work on the code and add features. It is self-sustaining, at least.

See: http://www.examprofessor.com

Comments, ideas, suggestions are welcome.


I just released http://www.examcommunity.com about two weeks ago... its a ghost town now... hopefully that will change.. How long did it take for you guys to get some traction?


I registered on your site and took it for a spin - very well done.

We initially geared our site towards teachers, but later learned that wasn't the market that was willing to pay for our services. Maybe your experience will be different.

It is a slow process. About 1-2% of our customers convert to paying accounts. When we started limiting what was free it seems people stepped up to the bat and subscribed to a paying account.

Note - your prices seem very low. You could experiment with your price structure, people might value your service more than you realize.


thanks for the thumbs up... as time goes on will experiment with the price.


I started InkedPlaymats.com a month ago. I work full time as a purchasing manager, have 3 kids under the age of 5, and take online courses full time. I am way over my head and sleeping 4 hours a night, but I am making it work. I am getting a 4.0 and just after a month open my business is starting to boom. I get up early and make breakfast and get orders ready to ship. I spend my lunch break shipping items and answering emails. I come home from work and spend 2 hours having dinner and playing with the kids. I then spend the next few hours doing schoolwork and printing out mats. My wife supports this knowing I am in a growing period. School ends this week, so I am looking forward to that. Anyways, I think it can be done, but is not ideal. And your family has to support you 100% of you will be lost.


Hey, didn't know you were on here! I run quietspeculation.com. Incredible that you're doing all that. Can't wait to get my mat design to you.


Yep, can't get enough. I am waiting on you man! I want to hook you up!


I should stop being an anal-retentive entrepreneur and just hire a graphic designer. Am considering commissioning custom art from an MTG artist (rk post maybe?)


I spent nearly a year building a SaaS application for Oil and Gas companies here in Calgary. My partner had the idea after he got tired of phoning/emailing/talking to every contact in his book in order to find partners/buyers in land deals.

So after a year of weekends and evenings, my partner started to pound the pavement. We were profitable in our very first year after launch, and continue to be. Our biggest expense is advertising, which is very targeted. I think about 80-85% of our pre-tax revenue ends up being profit, which is great.

I still have my day job, and for the 30 hours/week between us that we still put in, we've been _very_ successful.


There was a similar discussion (on side-projects) on HN a while back - Perhaps it will help the discussion?

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2795760


I and 2 cofounders are near to launching our iphone app and we have our daily job.

I'm the backend and frontend developer(rest-full api needed for our iphone app), the other two are the creative guys, and I've to admit that it has been hard to think, design, and do a product in a spare time(especially if you have a wife and a child).

And there are other aspects of the launching such as the site, the company to found and many things that require a lot of time.

I hope the app and the business I want to build around succeded so I will quit my current profitable job.


I built Femtoo.com in my 'spare' time. It was built whilst working at a day job over the course of a year or so.

It brings in a small amount of money each month and it pretty much requires no maintenance. However I would not say that it is profitable (yet), there is a fair way to go before it brings in enough money to have justified the time.

I would spend more time implementing new features if I thought it would result in a significant increase in paying users.

...not sure what to do with it now really!?!? Suggestions welcome!!!


Some off the cuff feedback: I wouldn't spend time on features, spend it on cleaning up the design.

* Use twitter bootstrap or some other framework to make the site look more professional.

* Why are the prices in weird denominations? $1.60 per month? Just make it $25/year.

* Don't show the social sharing button (G+) until you have a few hundred shares already

* Why is the video so small? Have screenshots on the homepage.

Basically, I'd suggest copying the style of a landing page of a well-known SAAS product. Nice bright colors, big fonts, screenshots, etc. I'm sure your product is feature complete, just work on design (or hire someone to make the above changes).


thanks so much for the great feedback! I'll make the quick changes ASAP and start reworking the UI - again, thanks so much!


I think this depends entirely on the nature of the startup.

If your startup requires consistently high turnover for new features, then it's going to occupy easily 40 hours per week on just that project.

However, if what you build doesn't need to be updated for months at a time (like some mobile apps or other software) you can probably get away with doing this. An entire company? I don't think so. A particular type of website, or app? Sure, if all you're doing consistently is maintenance.


Geez, you all inspire me so much. I'm trying to do the same and have switched to smaller and smaller side projects so I could get SOMETHING out there. Currently I've been distracted by time with friends/family/SO/and the current barrage of amazing fall video games all which pushed my project to the point of is it even possible?

Apparently I'm the only thing in the way. Thanks for the inspiration everyone! You guys are all amazing.


I built an online news service in 2002/2003 with zero coding knowledge, $100, and a bootleg version of Adobe Illustrator.

I put every spare moment I had into it, skipping lunches and dinners and sleep (though I never skipped church) all for the sake of keeping it lean before keeping it lean was cool.

5 years later I sold it for a paltry sum, mainly because I didn't add enough people fast enough.


so you never skipped church yet you had no problem stealing software. interesting.


Oh common now, we've all had cracked versions of Photoshop at one time. Had we not pirated it we never would have learned how to use it during the 30 day trial and later become loyal customers.



zing!


I started a Ruby on Rails consulting business with another dev while at my day job, I was an aerospace engineer. His day job was freelance Rails consulting.

After 2.5 months of 80 hour weeks, we quit our day jobs and went full time with the consulting business: Bendyworks. Now, almost 3 years into the biz, we're at 10 people and having a freaking blast.


I have a (barely) profitable SaaS app that I wrote while having a full time job. The advantage I have is that my day job is teaching, which gives me chunks of time off during the summer and winter. I think that if I had a job coding all day, the last thing I'd want to do is come home and do more coding.


this. it's my biggest struggle.


I built a service for monitoring SSL certificates (https://www.certician.com/) in my free time, although it's not yet profitable. I'm hoping it will be someday soon.

The feeling when a new customer from across the country signs up is a pretty good one!


School and part-time student programming work took up 40-60 hours a week, and I put in another 20 on our business on top of that. Got barely ramen profitable by graduation, which let me keep from getting a job for 8 months while it ramped up enough to start actually supporting me.


I've achieved this in school if that counts. GetDealy which runs flash sales for designers and geeks has 35,000+ users and 2.3 million credits earned, which is our rewards system.

http://getdealy.com


I'm actually working on a startup while in school (not technically a day job, but similar). I think my idea has a ton of potential in the market I'm aiming for, so I've been working on it for almost a year now.


I started Poker Copilot mostly while doing full-time consulting. I was able to scale down my consulting work gradually as Poker Copilot sales increased, until after 15 months it became my main income source.


I have built Iconfinder into a profitable service while having a day and studying at business school.

I still do some work next to the startup, but it is basically paying for servers etc. plus a salary for me.


Iconfinder is great, I use it every times I need to get icons. Icons are very well picked. Do you manually select each one ?


Yeah ditto that question. The icons are great, use the service all the time, always wondered how they were sourced/selected.


Doing a startup is 90% waiting, and 10% doing. It's perfectly possible to do one on the weekend.

Especially since coding is a tiny iota of actually doing one, most of it boils down to marketing anyways


If you consider marketing and selling as "waiting", you're doing it wrong my friend.


I must be doing something wrong then. I'm constantly running out of time. I'm always thinking about who to meet, who to talk to, what to change in order to become better. Not to mention optimizing text, updating the blog, doing the paperwork... I don't understand the 'waiting' part really.


then you probably just started...I don't mean the first few weeks after you launch...there is plenty of things to do then.

I mean that period for all sites after the launch coverage, the time where your traffic goes down to almost 0.

Who to meet/who to talk to...should have been done prior to launch.

optimizing text? it takes a while to do a/b testing if your traffic is tiny...same goes for seeing results from marketing campaigns.

updating the blog? that takes a few hours each week.

I mean sure, there is plenty of things to keep you busy, but most of it is just busy work you assign yourself because you are thinking "hey, I'm doing a startup, I should be doing something"


I am just getting started indeed. However, I talked to a lot of potential users and did the research before I started. Checked out the legal stuff, negotiated with lawyers and developers. But I don't stop talking / researching now I'm actually running it. I'm asking (potential) users for feedback all the time. I'm planning a new price-strategy, meeting a former competitor, talking to models and to commercial photographers the next two weeks. It's amazing how one talk leads to the other. Also because I'm on a tight budget I try to help other people so they can help me out.

Blogging about it as well: http://royfreemod.tumblr.com/


You must be joking right? Except you're not, which makes it sad instead of funny.

It must be very comfortable to not see the endless opportunities in increasing traction for your service after launch. Not even bothering to commit code any longer, since it was perfect at launch. Or doing marketing, sales, community and customer support, PR, ops, paying bills, sending invoices, handling complaints, bookkeeping, etc etc.

I never ever had the problem to keep myself busy, the problem is always prioritizing among the plethora of tasks you need to do and accepting the fact that you never will be able to do all of them.


I did say marketing/sales is the exception.

Not bothering to commit code? If it works, and you don't have actual customers yet? Then yes...it's just busy work at that point.

Community/Customer Support? I dunno about you, but customer support is only required for less than 1% of users. And even then it's usually a case of 1-2 sentences.

Paying bills? How many bills do you have as a startup?


Hundreds. Please stop diluting the startup term with your hobby projects.


We are talking about fresh startups, that are just getting launched. Twingly has been in business for 6 years.

And even then, "hundreds" of bills is crap...unless of course you count every purchase on your credit card statement as a "bill"


if your traffic is tiny then shouldn't you be doing marketing and promotion?


My partner and I started return7 with $800 (mostly design, Apple dev fee, etc.) in 2008 when the App Store opened up. BillMinder, our main app, is profitable.


i have built a startup on the side while working full time still. due to the fact that we are 3 partners, the money is not enough to quit my day job but it's getting there. we have grown from $0 to $200K in 2 and a half years while all 3 of us do this part time. i did all the development and sysadmin work and the other partners took care of the marketing and business side of things.


I'm curious to know what the typical day of a person in this setting is like? As in, what were ones' day-job hours and hours for project work?


I have built two startups while working fulltime and raising 2 kids. The first startup failed once my co-founder left town, after the business model and app were about 90% completed. My 2nd/current startup is http://targetmobi.com.

My schedule M-F for the last 3 years has been: 7am wakeup, feed kids etc. 9am - 5:30 work fulltime. 5:30 - 10pm family time. 10pm - 1am Startup time!. Yes thats 5-6 hours of sleep! Trying to do a startup on the side with children has been very challenging for me. Maybe its the biz models I am trying to tackle. Maybe building simple iphone/ipads apps would have had a better ROI.


Thanks for sharing. One followup question: given your schedule, how much time did it take for you to launch?


What do you mean by built? I ask because some people have noncompete or other contractual obligations that prevent launching a startup.


I started www.pokertablestats.com while working in day job and now i'm working on 2 other startup's after work hours.


I just put in my two weeks to pursue LayerVault full time. It's all up and to the right from here.


I did this with a collaborator, and intend to do it again soon. The way of the future...


If you are building something on the side in which cases your day job company owns it?


Ask me again in 6-8 months. We haven't launched yet. Both me and my co-founder have day jobs.


I started a couple of profitable small businesses while working a ton of hours management consulting, including a headphone website where I used all my vacation to travel to China to get my products manufactured cheaper. I was hoping to do a few things on the side until it made sense to quit my day job, but I found it never made sense to quit my day job.

More incredibly to me is FeeFighters (http://feefighters.com) CEO Sean was

1) Raising a VC round

2) Having his first kid

and 3) Working full-time at BCG

All at the same time (May 2010) Any one of those are enough to make you go crazy, but he managed all 3. (note: FeeFighters is not profitable)

He also previously started http://tss-radio.com and bootstrapped it to a spot on the inc 500 list, all on the side while working at a VC firm (Longworth) and then while at BCG (management consulting).


Do you have a blog or anything where you've written about your trip to china? I've been reselling Chinese goods for about a year and a half and I've always wanted to go over there.


raises hand

My current company started out as a side project. I decided to make it a fulltime project after about three years. We are quite profitable.

Today, we operate a few "premium" domain name businesses, but we started with a rather obscure one, and did well enough to purchase more properties from cash flow.


It can work, but you can easily burn yourself out.

Rather than working 8-10 hours on your startup and having some free time. You work 8 hours and spend all of your free time on your startup.

I prefer getting some capital saved and then quitting your day job.


What's the point of this question? There are people who did that and that's possible. patio11 is one example and I must say very good one.

I am example of person who has not managed to do that in 3 years but I have learned a lot and my trial contributed to my well-being in many positive ways. Some of those are like salary growing faster than planned and some are small but pleasant things like Nokia N950.


I would love to know why I am downvoted.


Because you aren't contributing to the thread, just complaining.


It looks like two options: you have read only first sentence of my comment or I am not clear enough. I have tried to do two things:

1) I have encouraged question's author to do that anyway even if there will be no profit because that has indirect positive effect;

2) I have tried to point out that such question is wrong to ask and there is very simple reason for that. It will attract only people who have succeeded in doing that: they will write what they did, maybe how they did that and maybe will try to identify reasons why they succeeded (not necessary correctly).

For every successful startup there are 10 unsuccessful (unprofitable) and if stating the reality is complaining then well OK - all who downvoted me has right to live in their rosy dream illusion world where they get rich just by reading HN.


1. You asked, I answered. I did/can not up vote or down vote your post as a result.

2. The OP asked a question, and you questioned why they should ask. More importantly, you merely pointed out that yes, people have, and have not been successful at it.

3. If you intended for something else, you weren't clear. Mostly because you didn't say anything. What you did say didn't amount to something that offered anything constructive, hence the down votes.

> For every successful startup there are 10 unsuccessful (unprofitable) and if stating the reality is complaining then well OK - all who downvoted me has right to live in their rosy dream illusion world where they get rich just by reading HN.

But see, you didn't say that. You didn't come close to saying that. You might think you did, but I assure you, you didn't come close. Your comment wasn't insightful or intelligent. You wanted to know why you got down voted, I told you. Don't try and now pass this off by labelling those who down voted you.


Thank you for your answer ;-)


You mean "profitable side-project"?

"Startup" usually means a company that fulfills a few of the below:

  - something the founders do full-time
  - less than 3 years old
  - in a bootstrap phase or burning VC money
  - in search of a business model (not yet profitable)
  - has the potential to grow


Surely it only has to fulfill one of those, that it's relatively young?

A profitable startup with a great business model which doesn't need to give away ownership for VC money is the perfect startup.

Any business that's new counts as a startup for me.


"A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty." -- Eric Ries


"A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model." -- Steven Blank


I think that you're talking about a very specific type of startup business.

People start and build businesses while employed all of the time. Some of those businesses require that the owners devote their full energies to them at a certain milestone.

Others do not -- plenty of software and consulting roles do not require 100% commitment, particularly if you have a flexible employer and can bootstrap. Many college professors have side gigs, for example.


This is such a brilliant point. I find the coder "puritanism" leaking into startups and I can't say I agree with it.

Starting a business has been done in many ways. Having been in business for 15 years I have gotten to meet a lot of other small business owners and there is as much variety in how established businesses came to be.

Having this delusion of its only a "real" startup if you do it this way is hogwash. So many great businesses were built on hard work, sacrifice, long hours, juggling more than one thing at once, until the new business could stand on it's own two feet.

Knowing when, and what your new business needs (more time, stepping away from other obligations) is a critical skill. Simply committing all of your time to one thing without a wider business, or varied experience can in some cases be a detriment.


You said it: "consulting roles", "side gigs". Why overload "startup" with something that can be better described by calling it what it is.


You kinda missed the point. Consulting can be a side gig that stays a side gig.

Other businesses can start slow/small, but you reach a point where you need to choose between the full time gig and your startup. There are a few clear examples of this phenomenon in this thread.


The "bootstrap" part can include initial phases being funded by a day-job or consulting though. People don't always quit their jobs right at the beginning, but might if it starts taking off.


No problem with that, I just think "project" is a better term as long as it's an after 6PM affair. To me a "startup" implies additional commitment and risk due to the absence of a cushy day job.


I agree with this comment. Saying 'start-up' has a load of baggage and hype attached to it... better off just saying something like: spare time project. There are lots of people running websites that make money, but I don't think they would call them start-ups.


You are nitpicking and not delivering answer even if you are right. What if I have officially registered company that fulfills all of your points but full-time?




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