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I did the scariest thing I can imagine: I resigned (wasigh.com)
213 points by wasigh on Sept 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 133 comments

The good news: If you think you've done the right thing, then you have. Congratulations!

The other news:

  - Your runway is probably 50% of what you think it is.
  - Your task is probably 200% of what you think it is.
  - It will take 200% of what you expect to get your first customer.
  - Your wife will get scared before you do.
  - Some customers will take forever to pay.
  - You'll probably have to backtrack on your design / architecture.
  - When you need to sell, you'll want to code.
  - When you need to code, you'll want to sell.
  - Your MVP will be missing something critical.
  - At some point, you'll question your decision.
  - At some point, someone will discourage you.
  - You may need to pivot your entire business.
  - In a year, you won't be who you are now.
I don't mean to discourage you. I just want you to bottle that enthusiasm for later use. You'll probably need it.

Best wishes!

[EDIT: Changed "less than good news" to "other news". Thanks grannyg00se and untog for pointing out my "less than best choice of words". wasigh, it's all good news.]

I was with you until:

In a year, you won't be who you are now.

Unless you mean "you will be the wrecked shell of the person you once were", I don't think that making a startup actually changes who you are. We glamorize it, but a lot of people set up their own business every day and don't change a bit.

To the contrary, I think startup experiences brings profound changes in the way you live. At least that happened to me in the following ways

1. Your free time is limited. You try to make the most of it. Something like work hard and play harder

2. Your emotions go through a sine curve. You can deal with stress better than most others. That could also mean you get numb to common day problems. You stop working yourself up for small issues. And on the other extreme, you start to think anything is possible if you start applying yourself. Almost everything looks like an optimization problem with 2 or 3 variables.

3. You can no longer say things like "Oh, I don't do that, a sales/PR/designer person does that". You get to do other stuff and realize you might like doing them too.

4. People fail you or you fail people - deals don't go through, you miss dinners/meetups etc etc. It hurts you in the beginning but you get used to that.

May be most of it applies only to young startup people like myself but I sure did learn and change a lot over my time at startups.

That's not with respect to start ups, but any 'testing task' in general.

People emerge totally changed individuals during and after times of hardships. During disease, financial difficulties, tough assignments, chasing near impossible goals, during times crisis, turmoil and difficulties.

You get to see who is jealous of you. Who envies you , who admires you, who is ready to help, who discourages you. You learn not just about work, but also a lot about people, places, things and life in general.

That is why some people who go through life threatening diseases, fatal failures, harsh financial conditions are so successful, resilient, self sufficient, motivated and hard working.

A start-up changes a person in the same way a war does - trauma, triumph, battle, and blood. If you aren't changed after you start up, it probably wasn't your first time.

That's just insane. People working on start-ups do not, as a matter of course, risk their lives in the same way soldiers in a war do. I'd challenge you to point to anyone doing a tech startup who has lost a limb due to an IED.

A start-up may very well change a person more than spending the same time at a job would, but to compare it to going through war shows an incredible amount of naivety about how horrible war actually is.

You're not replying to what he said, you're replying to what you think he said. He didn't say that founders "risk their lives in the same way soldiers in a war do"; he said, "A start-up changes a person in the same way a war does."

Sure, war can change a person in ways that a start-up never will -- if a soldier loses a limb for example. But do you really, honestly think that andrew was trying to imply that start-up founders might lose limbs? Or do you think he could have been just speaking to the point that the constant stress and frequent highs and lows of running a business can have a powerful effect on someone's personality?

There have been a lot of threads recently on how to improve HN. Here's a good one: let's try reading other people's comments as charitably as possible, and respond to that, instead of imagining a point that they weren't making and then arguing with that.

>> You're not replying to what he said, you're replying to what you think he said.

He said "blood". I think you are not understanding the unfounded discourse of the comparison.

Look, if you really want to debate this, I could try to defend what he said, but I will have to assume you actually believe that andrew -- a fellow intelligent human being -- was trying to put business owners on an equal footing with soldiers in war. I think that would say more about you than it would about him, and I don't want to think that you're that dumb. I'd prefer to believe that you're much smarter than that, that you recognize how pointless such an argument would be because there's no way that a reasonable person would really believe that business owners are just like soldiers at war.

Or, we can leave my comment to stand by itself as a simple plea for more civility.

So which would you prefer? That we leave this alone and make HN a slightly better place by assuming a charitable reading of what a fellow person wrote, or that we get into a stupid argument that makes us both look increasingly foolish until pg has to step in to admonish us to knock it off?

It's obviously metaphorical/hyperbole.

Over 2M US soldiers were deployed in Iraq, with ~4.5K deaths and ~21K wounded, a rate of 0.002% for death and 0.01% for wounding. Significantly higher than the rate in start-ups (I presume), but lower than climbing Mount Everest.

Yeah, but it's so much more romantic to think of start-ups as literally comparable to being a foot soldier on the front lines.

It's not as extreme as something life-threatening like war or cancer, but it's a lot of stress to endure for an extended period.

And the stakes are pretty high: lose lots of money and possibly your spouse divorces you.

This sounds a bit like hyperbole. People don't die from startups.

I know at least one person who died in 2009 due to stress caused by business problems. This happened after two years of intense pressure and suffering. Depression, not eating well, not sleeping enough and other factors converged. One morning a stroke followed by a series of heart attacks ended his life.

I have personally ended-up in the hospital with intense palpitations due to a combination of stress, lack of sleep and dehydration all as a result of business issues. There's nothing wrong with me or my heart, today I regularly swim 1500m and participate in Master's competitions and training. Over time I learned to deal with business stress in various ways (swimming is part of it).

So, yes, it isn't military service but don't make the mistake of thinking that stress-related disorders --and even death-- are monopolized by soldiers.

Also: There have been a number of high-profile suicides mentioned on HN over the last few years. Likely there have been countless lower-profile suicides never mentioned.

You've summarized my entire past year in these nifty points my friend... and I'm not even in the computers/IT industry (and I'm not married). But seriously, I only wish someone had told this before. I'd have tried to be better prepared for it (and I also know that you're never 'better prepared' ever).

To which I add:

    - Time will now move at a different rate. You will get   desperate when things don't happen fast enough, and you will get desperate when things are going to fast. The trick here is to find a good rhythm.
Good luck.

6 months in and I recognise most of that. About to make my first hire, so I guess the other half of that will come.

I agree. To get to my Series A after resigning my job was nothing like I expected and it was far longer than I had anticipated. I hope whatever you're making has a revenue element to it.

You are over dramatizing the bad part. I quit my job exactly a one year ago to make sustainable business developing iPhone apps. I have failed and I am looking for a job BUT the entire year was a lot of fun, I learned a lot. Its not the end of your life if you run out of money for a while. You will add more skills in the worst case. If you are single its easier.

" - In a year, you won't be who you are now. "

I don't think this one necessarily gets filed under less than good news. Presumably if the guy is uprooting his life like this, becoming someone else is part of the goal.

Been there, done that, and this list is pretty accurate. YMMV however.

Jesus Christ! Someone ought to make a freagin poster of that! Awesome!

Thanks EDW!

And, when you finally succeed, some asshole will tell you that you didn't actually build your business. That your success isn't due to having worked hard (because there are tons of people that work hard) or because you are smart (because lots of people are smart). No, you had nothing to do with building a successful business despite your sacrifices, risk, uncertainty, sleepless nights, good and bad decisions, family sacrifices, etc., etc. You don't matter.

This comment has absolutely no place in this thread. This wasn't the appropriate place to inject your politics.

I don't know, it seems fitting to me. If you ignore the current political mess surrounding that (out of context) statement, it's still true.

If you reach any kind of success, you'll find people who will say it wasn't you. You got rich off of someone else's work. You had it all handed to you. Or the most common of all, you got lucky.

It doesn't matter that you worked hard, or studied, or failed 50 times before. You were in the right place at the right time, and that's why you're making so much money. It was only because of the cosmic lottery that they, sitting around and not doing much, didn't become the rich person.

Not that I disagree with you.

But some people do as a matter of fact get rich by being at the right place at the right time.

Just like how not all hardworking people are successful. Not all successful people are hardworking. The simplest example I can give you is to be born in a rich family.

That's certainly a cosmic lottery.

>It doesn't matter that you worked hard, or studied, or failed 50 times before. You were in the right place at the right time, and that's why you're making so much money.

It's not that it doesn't matter, it's just that hard work isn't enough. Luck does play a big role.

Of course people who come in and try to tell you that it had nothing to do what you did are jerks, but people on the other side try to say that it was all them and had nothing to do with luck (usually right before they blast poor people for not "pulling themselves up by their bootstraps").

Who would actually say that? Sounds like you've had some experience of this.

A lot of conservatives misinterpreted something Obama said as meaning much of what you've said, even though if one reads the entire paragraph, the "that" in his sentence was infrastructure such as the Internet, roads and bridges.

Not so fast.

No one questions that other people built roads etc. (Govt didn't provide the resources - it only collected them.)

The only way that Obama's comment is not a non sequitur is if he meant more than that, that people who "built" were treated differently than the people who didn't wrt those resources.

I get that you think that Obama should be given the benefit of the doubt, but don't other people get that same benefit?

For example, one of the most common sentiments expressed to people trying to concieve is "you've got to keep a positive mental outlook", the implication being that a negative mental outlook reduces the odds of conception. I have no idea whether or not mental outlook has that effect but we're damning a US senate candidate who said that it did.

I have no idea whether or not mental outlook has that effect but we're damning a US senate candidate who said that it did.

I don't think that was quite what he said, if you are referring to Tod Akin.

>> I have no idea whether or not mental outlook has that effect but we're damning a US senate candidate who said that it did.

> I don't think that was quite what he said, if you are referring to Tod Akin.

Actually, it was. He said that women who were raped were less likely to concieve. He didn't specify the mechanism, but mental state is the only plausible candidate.

Like I said, a huge fraction of the population believes that mental state affects conception. Moreover, I'll bet that I can find at least one law protecting women that was enacted based, at least partly, on that theory.

Or, do you want to argue that how he said it matters?

Or, do you want to argue that the mental distress associated with rape has different effects than other mental distress?

It was a monumentally stupid thing to say, but not because of the scientific truth or lack thereof.

And, if a Democrat had said it, it wouldn't have been an issue and you'd have defended said Democrat. See, for example, the near-daily gaffes of VP Biden. Or, Obama's "you didn't build that".

Wow. You are one insane waste of skin.

By the way, I am neither republican, or democrat, or american for that matter. I just am fascinated by american politics, in much the same way that some people are fascinated by particularly gruesome car crashes.

> Wow. You are one insane waste of skin.

I note that you didn't point out any errors that I made.

FWIW, I'm pro-abortion.

Well you appear to be trying to argue, that a speech that discusses the idea that there is shared responsibility for wealth creation between business owners and the state, is an equivalent political gaffe to someone claiming that it is extremely rare for rape victims to get pregnant so therefore they don't really need abortions.

[edit] Oh, and on a thread about someone leaving their job to start a business.

So no. I didn't point out any errors that you made. I don't really need to.

There are people out there who are convinced that everything is because of external forces.

They'll tell you your successful because you got lucky somehow (lottery of an idea, picked for a promotion, right place right time, etc). It wasn't because of something you did.

Likewise, their situation is usually because of external forces as well. Their boss doesn't like them, they didn't get hired for that good job because of X, they couldn't go to/finish/get good grades in school because of Y.

It's really kind of sad to see in person.

Even if "that" refers to infrastructure, he would be dead wrong.

First of all, infrastructure is not built for a particular business or businesses. It's was built --with a HUGE emphasis on "was"-- because it was identified as a necessity for progress and other factors. Most roads in the US were built decades ago. The project started in 1956. It's interesting to read the "Financing" section on Wikipedia:


This and the railroads were not built for any particular business but rather for reasons spanning from national defense to, yes, economic growth. The system was paid for and is being paid for by everyone in some form or another and everyone benefits from this.

Obama's statement, to paraphrase, went something like: "If you have a business...and are successful...you didn't build that". Some argue, probably correctly, that he was referring to infrastructure rather than the business itself.

In isolation that might be the case. But there was more. He also said a few things to the tune of, again, paraphrasing: "if you are successful...it isn't because you work hard or you are smart...lots of people are smart and work hard". And, right after that, he wen't into the "you didn't build that" paragraph. The implication is that your success is due to, in large part, to government.

I would argue that unscripted comments like this one tend to reveal how someone thinks. And the not-surprising revelation in this case is that Obama has deep socialists beliefs. How else would you even consider the idea of equating the success of any business TODAY with the construction of infrastructure DECADES AGO? You have to construct a certain model of reality before you'd even utter such words. Someone like myself, an entrepreneur through and through, would never, ever, even consider saying something like that. Government has never been the source of my success or failure.

His statement is like arguing that a fellow launching a web development business today owes his success to government because the desk he bought was shipped via railroad and the highway system. That statement would be deemed ridiculous to a ten year old, much less intelligent adults.

Yes, infrastructure benefits everyone. Millions of people use (and pay for it) every day to conduct their lives. Not one person owes their success to infrastructure alone. Once in place it is deemed a given. Infrastructure was a natural side effect of the exploration and expansion that took place in this continent. Today, there's far more that goes into becoming successful in life privately and in business than the pre-existing infrastructure.

There's a reverse side to this argument. If government is the source of my and your success because it built infrastructure (that we paid for). Then, they ought to also be responsible for my and your failures. You can't have it both ways. The infrastructure in Los Angeles, as an example, is in a dire state of disrepair. Just drive on the 405 or 5 Freeways --to name a couple-- and you'll know what I mean. I have not seen government make a concerted effort to really maintain and repair these roads in probably twenty years. I used to drive sports cars with stiff suspensions. Your bones would rattle when going over these roads. In sharp contrast to this, the last time I was in Munich, the Autobahn felt as smooth as a billiards table.

So, if government is responsible for your an my success then it is also responsible for your and my failures. I don't mean this seriously. It's a ridiculous argument, of course. Just as dumb and ridiculous as Obama's claim that businesses owe their success to "the collective".

If you built a country, and were successful, you didn't build that! It was the Spanish with their ships and all of their national infrastructure that enabled you to be able to have a successful country and, yes, enabled that guy today to open a taco stand and experience success. Ridiculous.

A few logical issues... the Interstate Highway System is an ongoing investment. It may have started in 1956, but it requires constant upkeep which, as you pointed out, is covered by taxes.

The fellow you mention launching a web development business today may not owe his success to government because his desk was shipped using infrastructure, but he does owe his success (in part) to the research investment that created ARPAnet.

Also, if you're hiring for a technology business, you're relying on the network of universities across the country to produce competent graduates. You also depend on taxes you pay for police, fire department, and the military to maintain a rule of law that enables your business to exist.

All of these things are requirements dor a modern society. They are used by everyone. Entrepreneurs and businesses are just one class of users.

If you travelled in time back to the 1500's you would use whatever infrastructure in place wherever you land. It isn't any different today.

The government didn't create the Internet as we know it today. Yes ARPAnet was the genesis of what eventually became the modern Internet. Private entrepreneurs investing massively in both time and money carved out the the modern Internet.

The modern Internet would have happened without ARPAnet. Services such as Compuserve and a myriad of BBS's were already carving out that space. France had an Internet-like system before the Internet. As things happened the modern Internet evolved from ARPAnet, but I do not, for one second, subscribe to the idea that we owe the modern Internet to the US government. And much less so that the aforementioned web designer has anything to thank the US government for.

We elect officials to run the country, uphold laws and provide agreed-upon services. And we all pay for the cost of those services (dearly, I might add). Everyone benefits from this. That businesses spring up and use the available infrastructure is only natural. To propose that businesses somehow owe government for the existing infrastructure is preposterous. Part of the political game is, of course, to pander to the unions, which are very receptive to these kinds of messages.

Does Apple owe its success to the Chinese government for putting into place the infrastructure that allowed them to bring the iPhone to market? I don't think so. Apple used the best infrastructure it could find in order to meet their goals. If the Chinese didn't have it they would have gone elsewhere.

Do we, then, also blame the US government for not building the infrastructure necessary to compete with China and keep millions of jobs in the US? Of course not. But you can't play it both ways. If the government is the source of our success and achievements then they also get to own our monumental failures. Examples of this abound: The destruction of the light aircraft industry due to regulations and litigation; the destruction of the automobile industry due to unions; the destruction of our financial well-being as a nation due to over-spending, unnecessary wars, government unions, ridiculous pensions, entitlement programs and, in general crappy partisan thinking on all sides.

As degenerate and incompetent as our government has become I fail to see how anyone can think that they can be or are the source of anyone's success unless you work for a union. Today I heard on the radio that sa government worker is retiring with a pay of $301,000 pension FOR LIFE. Yes, that guy owes his success to government as I can almost guarantee you that he did nothing to have earned or deserved that pay.

Don't you think it's ridiculous that you've picked a guy earning a government pension at $301k a year and you're castigating him, when there are loads of people in the private sector earning up to tens or hundreds of times more than that? You could find people on Hacker News that make that much writing iPhone apps where people pay to click on pigs, or who figure out new ways to make ads harder to avoid.

Are you really going to assert that the private sector workers are all "earning" that money in some way that the government worker in question cannot possibly be? How do you know?

Why do you feel so strongly that this guy with a pension must be screwing you, but not the far more numerous, far richer people in our world?

>Why do you feel so strongly that this guy with a pension must be screwing you, but not the far more numerous, far richer people in our world?

Its not that worker, but that system in which that worker is employed which is the problem. It encourages a behaviors where hardworking are supposed to pay up and carry everybody else's burden. Sooner or later that kills the whole system.

There are somethings that you need to think about his statement- Which is-

>Today I heard on the radio that sa government worker is retiring with a pay of $301,000 pension FOR LIFE. Yes, that guy owes his success to government as I can almost guarantee you that he did nothing to have earned or deserved that pay.

Right there you see what he is trying to point out. Among all people who are retiring. Some might be exceptionally good performers, some exceptionally bad, some mediocre. But all are paid equally. This directly means some of them are paying up and working for others.

Next you say:

>>Don't you think it's ridiculous that you've picked a guy earning a government pension at $301k a year and you're castigating him, when there are loads of people in the private sector earning up to tens or hundreds of times more than that?

If they are making it from their work, its theirs. That's totally different than the pension argument which I mentioned earlier, where a few people pay for everybody else. Thereby there is no incentive for actual hard workers to do their work as they want. Why the hell should anybody work so hard ultimately only to find he and the guy who did absolutely did no work at all get the same rewards?

>>You could find people on Hacker News that make that much writing iPhone apps where people pay to click on pigs, or who figure out new ways to make ads harder to avoid.

You can't decide others taste on what they consider valuable.

That is a lie. The "that" is business. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. I just looked up the speech.

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

I just looked up the speech as well. The 'that' would seem to be referring to the 'somebody' who built infrastructure. You could read it the other way I suppose, but only if you thought it was a separate statement meant to stand apart from the rest of the paragraph that is enclosing it, which wouldn't make much sense.

As I said, I looked up the speech (again - just to make sure - as I had already looked it up before), and taken in full context, I think me means that if you have a business, you didn't build that business.

His actual, broader point is that you can't take credit for building a business or claim to own it or deserve its profits, because you built upon a foundation of capital, infrastructure, and knowledge that was there before you.

This is a common viewpoint on the egalitarian Left, where Obama has his roots, and which he clearly still represents.

To interpret his comment any other way than I did, is to ignore the broader ideological context.

But even not ignoring that ideological context, it's a huge stretch to claim that he meant "those" when he said "that," or to claim that he meant something else, other than what he said.

Lots of people in the media have been outright dishonest about this (John Stewart comes to mind - he had a pretty ridiculous segment on this).

To interpret his comment any other way than I did, is to ignore the broader ideological context.

Is more to ignore the rest of the speech. He goes on to say - "The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together." - which doesn't sound as though he is claiming that you can't take credit for building a business, just that you can't take all the credit.

Now, I am no fan of Obama (Or roughly 90% of politicians, for that matter), but to try and make out that he was claiming that no-one can take credit for their business, when he clearly states that success comes from individual initiative, is disingenuous at best.

doesn't sound as though he is claiming that you can't take credit for building a business, just that you can't take all the credit.

Yes, he's saying you can't take all the credit, which means that you can't "take credit" for it.

Taking credit has an implied "all the", as in, "take [all the] credit."

This distinction actually matters. Obama is taking something absolute -- This is my business, these are my profits -- and turning it into something vague. That vagueness leaves plenty of room for all kinds of government controls and taxes.

In fact, contra Obama, if you built a business, it is rightly your business, along with all of the profits (and all of the credit).

> Taking credit has an implied "all the", as in, "take [all the] credit."

I'm sorry, but this is complete nonsense.

>Yes, he's saying you can't take all the credit,

Which is right. You can't take all the credit. You can take most though.

I take it you are not a fan of John Donne then.

Why the gratuitous, partisan threadcrapping? And with a debunked "quote" to boot?

The political argument isn't that you had "nothing" to do with your success. All businesses require help from many factors. You need luck. You need other people (um, like customers, your employees, the gov. for public infrastructure investment, your family, your friends).

It's just egregious to claim that you alone are 100% responsible for your success, like you don't interact in a world with 7+ billion. You're telling me your business doesn't rely any small subset of those people?

I don't doubt that you work hard, or don't deserve your success.

Who cares? People say things that are wrong all the time, it's better to ignore them and say "How interesting, I'll keep that in mind" than to devote mental resources to getting upset about it.

Not that I feel a particular way about it, but he is the President. People tend to care what he says. Just sayin.

The President? I had to look this up (I'm not American) and it looks like he was intending to refer to the public infrastructure that all businesses use rather than the businesses themselves.

Anyway, I don't much care for the politics of any country but it's still a waste of time to pay too much attention to the minutia of political campaigning. Before November, both parties are going to say a great number of things that are untrue, out of context, and that they don't believe. If you let yourself get upset by the circus show months before election time, you'll go barking mad.

He was, and it's perfectly clear if you listen to the whole clip.

But it was one of those statements that was trivial to use out of context and perfectly fit the Republican narrative about Obama's views.

I'm a Republican, and I've thought it was a pathetic tactic since I first heard it. But that's why I nearly stop listening to the news during political seasons.

Except that the President didn't actually say that.

Moreover, that characterization has been widely debunked even by the likes of ABC, CBS, and NBC who rarely call bullshit on anything. Aren't you embarrassed to repeat that false talking point here, especially when it has zero to do with the OP?

I didn't repeat it, someone else did... I was merely saying that the President isn't some random "person". His words have influence. Nor would I ever be embarrassed about anything on Hacker News. haha

And this is how a topical thread about startups gets derailed into unproductive political bickering.

And suppresses better and more on-topic answers to boot. Removing the grandstanding of this tangent would greatly improve this thread and give the focus to something that the vast majority of people visiting here would be interested in.

See Just World Fallacy

some asshole will tell you that you didn't actually build your business.

I though the whole thing was very similar to Carl Sagan's comment - If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - and I never thought that Carl Sagan was having a go at bakers.

Right. The difference is that Carl Sagan didn't use such comments to instigate and exploit class warfare and divide a country. Carl Sagan didn't use such statements to brainwash the masses for personal gain. Carl Sagan didn't use that statement to mean that a successful baker, today, owes their success to the creation of the universe.

We operate within the reality that we happen to live within at the time of our lives. The Vikings had one reality. They moved within it and flourished. People born in England in the 1,200's had a very different reality to construct their lives around than those born 200, 400 or 800 years later. That's just the way things work. You use the tools you have at your disposal.

It would be unthinkable to propose that someone in the year 1,200 invent the transistor. Lot's had to happen before the transistor could become a reality. Did they fail because of a failure of government to provide the necessary infrastructure? No, they failed because they would have been, quite simply put, way ahead of their time.

Did Fleming come across Penicillin because government built roads? Not really.

How about Madame Courie?







Coca Cola?

Did the engineers in the 1940's owe the development of the transistor to the roads, sewers and other services government managed for us? Of course not. Their success was the result of a myriad of personal factors, not the least of which were inspiration, intellect, drive and being in the right place at the right time. The infrastructure was there already. It wasn't built for them to be successful at this one task.

It is an insult to the human condition to propose that we owe our personal success to government.

Historically speaking, governments have caused humanity far more pain, agony, death and loss than almost any other human invention. Individuals don't go to war, governments do.

So, Mr. Obama, do we also owe the 50 million people who died in World War 2 to the infrastructure the US Government put into place: roads, railroads, phones, telegraphs, airports, etc.?

Of course not. Don't try to make connections where they don't exist. Politics sucks.

"Did the engineers in the 1940's owe the development of the transistor to the roads, sewers and other services government managed for us? Of course not."

Of course yes. Government makes sure we have good life conditions. If you have a government that takes decent care of its people, then those people will strive and innovate, instead of surviving.

If government is so bad around here, move to Somalia. Come tell us how much you think a government that doesn't invest in its people is great for innovation.

Oh, please. Government didn't build these things so that a handful of guys cold invent the transistor. These are things that our society wants and requires. Businesses and entrepreneurs live within this reality.

Entrepreneurs headed West and literally created their own path as they went along. No infrastructure existed. Many years later the railroad became a necessity. The Interstate system didn't come into play until almos 200 years after the creation of this country and around 450 years after Columbus arrived.

You could very well argue that the exact opposite is true: Business has driven governments to push forward decisions and projects that benefit all. The Panama Canal could be one example of this.

His point is that it those luxuries applies to everybody. Then why didn't everybody invent transistors?

Given equal conditions, not everyone achieves equally.

Are you arguing that Einstein invented the atomic bomb in the US because our infrastructre was better than Germany?

Einstein invented the atomic bomb? That's funny. Not very HN level of knowledge there buddy.

And yes.. that is almost exactly the reason (US vs Germany developed the first atomic bomb). 1000x the resources and scientists, applied to a know physical possibility, supported by: the government, and infrastructure via the army.

Sorry, late night comment. My point is that there's nothing magical about infrastructure like roads and bridges.

How do you account for other advanced economies that have invested more than the US (presumably a cumulative number over the past 50 years, excluding WWII rebuilding investments, per capita) and yet fail to produce the same wealth (again per capita) as the US?

Clearly, other factors outside of individual effort are involved, but I'm sorry, I'm not buying that they are roads and bridges.

In fact, I don't think the X factor is anything the US has intentionally invested in. And I don't think government gets the credit, any more than someone who plays "slop" in pool.

Shit, look at all the so-called startup hubs that are trying to recreate SV via infrastructure investments. Can you show me one that's worked?

Or look at startuplandia: startups choose different cloud hosting services, and as far as I can tell, the particular one you choose (or even the choice to use cloud vs. colo) is not predictive of success.

I don't know... maybe on a national level you have evidence (perhaps a scatterplot of cum infrastructure investment per capita against wealth per capita by country) showing the two are causal (or even correlated), but I have yet to see it. Here's my 2 cents as someone who founded and sold a business for 8 figures:

Businesses succeed or fail because a) founder/exec's intelligence, b) ability to execute, c) luck, d) x-factors-that-government-didn't-build.

I think the above post was pointing out that Germany actually spent incredible amounts on infrastructure and business. I have a hard time believing the US had 1000x the resources. Germany had the Silver Arrow Mercedes race car that was doing 250mph back then. They also didn't have much restriction on what scientists were allowed to try.

And the Germany industry was also very successful. Germany was an industrial powerhouse despite having lost WW1 and suffered the depression.

>>1000x the resources If you look at the scientist working on it was about that. They had Heisenberg. And about that money wise (don't have the exact numbers.)

The Abomb is a really bad example of not needing government. It was almost entirely an example of what can happen with total government support.. unfortunately that usually comes during a war.

there's a quote from a German minister during WWII: "Their German scientists are better than our German scientists."

FYI - I don't know if that quote is real. It was a post-WWI Cold War quip that has been attributed to many people (even Bob Hope).

I think you're looking for this:


Then you can brush up on your history ;).


Although he may have developed much of the physics and saw that it was possible, Einstien didn't invent the atomic bomb and he developed the physics before he got to the US.

I think that he is arguing that there are certain things you need to have organised in society to give the space for more advanced development, irrespective of individual brilliance.

I am reminded strongly of ... "What have the Romans ever done for us?" ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso

One point you're trying to make is that having certain resources at your disposal (for example, previous knowledge gained by others), and then making something new with them, is still a significant accomplishment that one deserves credit for.

Another point that you're trying to make is that government doesn't tend to have all that much to do with having those prior resources. (OK, so the government organizes road-building - big deal.)

I agree with you, just not with the way you presented your position.

It is an insult to the human condition to propose that we owe our personal success to government.

All ownership rights that are not built on direct possession are down to the social contract of government. Without that you would have no rights to anything that you cannot personally defend. This is really the only reason why we put up with government, despite all the associated crap that goes along with it. We like being able to leave the parcel of land we have claimed without having to leave someone on it permanently to make sure it is still there to return to when we get back.

Individuals don't go to war, governments do.

They wouldn't get very far without the soldiers.

Site's down atm but here's the Google Cache http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%...

I've been attracted to companies that appear to have a "hacker culture" too. It seems I always end up at companies that used to have a hacker culture. Companies grow, responsibilities and clients get bigger, more checks and balances start emerging and that hacker mentality is usually the first casualty.

I'm curious how much of a hacker culture is still left at places like github, Fog Creek, etc.

I'm starting to think the most surefire way to submerge yourself in a hacker culture is to join or start a startup.

Congratulations and good luck - now get off HN and get to work! ;-)

The biggest difference between doers and dreamers is simply that: The doers do and the dreamers dream. You've taken a bigger step than 99% of people are willing to take for themselves, so you are already in the doer group. Just keep it up and you'll be successful.

I often read or heard things like: "I want to work for Company X because they're so cool!" because a few written articles about the office settings and the "culture".

For some, that may work, for others, be careful of what you wish for. This is not a warning to stay away from such companies but when the companies are dominated by young energetic single employees and you're a father of 1 year old child (and maybe another one coming), there lies a cultural barrier between you and the rest of the company (unless you're going there as a Dev Manager).

As people get older, they no longer too crazy about the tech side as they used to be so sometimes conversation becomes dull for both side.

tnx, my VPS is kind of crashing ...

> Instead of grieving about the fact that I won’t be able to work at one of these companies, I decided to try and build my own.

If you want to do your own thing that's great, but if you really want to work at one of those companies, let them tell you whether you're good enough -- there's no reason to make the decision for them.

Except that he said that he can't relocate. So that would be like rubbing salt in the wound, and kind of a waste of time for Valve/Mojang/Fog Creek/etc.

Maybe he should try 37signals or some other company that meets the criteria without requiring relocation.

Github has remote employees.

Heroku is hiring in Europe.

I did the same thing. Quit my cushy salaried corporate job for something bigger. While I don't regret it, I do wish I wasn't so rash with my decision. The biggest I didn't realize until it actually happened was that it really hurts to consistently lose money when you had been used to getting a sizable paycheck.

This hurt made me frustrated when my projects didn't succeed or generate revenue -- I'd ask myself why I sacrificed $X dollars for failure. I could argue I was gaining knowledge, but it sucks to have a negative income. Every day I felt strained to figure out how to make money again, and this stress didn't give me the relaxed atmosphere I thought I would have.

In retrospect I won't quit my full-time job again until I have something that already generates revenue, or a much larger nest egg.

One of the main things that prevents me from doing the same is health insurance. Will I be paying $2000 per month instead of $200 that I'm paying now for a good coverage.

What are my options? Can anyone shine some lights on this issue?

(I know it's a US thing, as those in EU have free health plan and all that.)

I'm in the same boat as the OP, and was able to find health insurance for about $500/month for a family of 4. The main catch is that it's a very high deductible, so we'd have to spend at least $5000 per year out of our own pocket (or HSA) for the insurance part to kick in. If I were to keep my old employer's coverage through COBRA, it would be closer to the $2000/month number. But if you're saving $1500 per month in premiums, and are reasonably healthy, having a high deductible "catastrophic" plan with some backup money in an HSA makes a lot of sense.

Thanks for the info. It does seem to make more sense to opt for a high deductible plan.

$2000 month is high (depends on your situation though). I've also done this, on Cobra, my payment is 1100 for a family of 4. If you have low deductibles, it would be higher.

You are probably also paying some part of your health insurance as it is (it will often come out of your paycheck pre-tax) You should check if that's going on.

In 2014, Health Insurance operations commence in each state due to the Patient Protection And Affordable Care act. So, if you resigned now, you could get Cobra for 18 months, and then switch to an individual plan.

Thank you. Hope Obama get re-elected so PPACA won't be reppealed.

Hey, I was in a similar boat. I also resigned to start my own thing about a year ago.

I had a well paying job in one of the top tech companies. However, I felt unsatisfied with my job responsibilities and disconnected between what I enjoy doing and I was actually doing.

Therefore I took a year off (this month marks about 1 year and 2 months off) to work on my own thing/project. With that said, I hope to share some of my experiences with you.

1) Take regular breaks and avoid burnout

I was working on my project 24/7, from the moment I woke up to the moment I fall asleep ... 7 days a week. In hindsight, that was a recipe for burning out. I was mentally fatigued after 6-8 months into this routine.

Looking back, I should have taken regular breaks from work and not think about the project at all. Maintain an active social life, go on trips, spend time with friends, or as simple as forcing myself to take a day off every week would have done wonders for my own mental health.

2) Maintain your physical health

Physically and health wise, I was in a fantastic shape before I left my job and started on my own venture.

However, my health quickly deteriorated because I neglected my physical well being. For example, I exercised less and eventually none at all. I ate less than I should (I would go as far as eating 1 meal per day). My sleeping schedule quickly fell out of whack.

Take good precautions and maintain a good physical and mental health. This will go a long way in preventing you from falling into a negative feedback loop and damaging your well being.

3) If you build it, they will not come (think about marketing)

I gave vague thoughts to marketing while working on my project. I demoed my product to my close friends and family. They loved it, so i thought, if I build a great product, users will automagically show up. Boy, I was wrong.

It is good to develop a plan on how to reach your protential users and/or customers. Think about SEO. Think about finding a niche or community of [potentially enthusiastic] users to whom you can demo your product. Think about finding bloggers who can help you spread the word.

4) Everything will take twice as long to implement

Think a feature will take a week to implement? It will probably take two weeks if not more. I saw the iceberg effect firsthand while developing my own product. So be careful, be cautious, and plan accordingly.

5) Just ship it. D@mn it.

You will always notice issues, flaws, bugs, and imperfections within your product. As creators/founders/makers, we all do. However, we can spend eternity tinkering and fixing those issues, but our product will never ship.

Therefore, you should give yourself a rough deadline or an idea as to when you'll ship, no matter how imperfect your product is.

6) You'll need to hustle after you ship

Shipping is only half the battle. It is unlikely that tens of thousands will show up on your front step after you ship.

Therefore you'll need to go out and hustle. You'll need to think about things like marketing, customer acquisition, customer, retention, customer service, and so forth.

In hind sight was it a good decision? Would you do it again? How are things going one year in?

"To be successful I have to get out of my comfort zone." ...

This is my current mentality (I fear being in my confort zone), glad you share it... Anyone has an opinion on this type of behavior? Is this a good or bad habit on the long term?


Taking risks increases your chances of being successful. Not the only way of being successful.

You will be surprised how many people are rich working in big corporates by just saving and investing well.

Wasigh, are you Dutch? If so, please ignore all the silly American right-wingers below (stelletje suffe sound bite sukkels).

A "smarter" way to resign voluntarily, in Holland, is to gather proof with regards to your mental state/wellbeing, e.g. if there's a track record of you being "overspannen" (tr: burnt out) you would, with the right evidence, still be able to apply of unemployment benefits. Instead of quitting, call in sick, make an appointment with your Dr. and if he/she signs the appropriate paperwork, you can dissolve your contract "amicably" (ontbinding met wederzijds goedkeuren) which, in some cases, would allow you to retain the right to apply for WW (unemployment benefits).

Just in case you are in the US: depending on the state you live in, one may still qualify for unemployment benefits even if you quit yourself for "good cause" (it's actually somewhat similar to the Dutch situation, ie you need proof of undue stress, demands by your boss exceeding your contract, changes in job description/responsibilities, health reasons, family reasons, unsafe working environment, etc. etc.). Details vary by state, see http://jobsearch.about.com/od/unemployment/a/unemploymentoff...

Note: I've been self-employed for 10+ years now. Love it now, but many of the points outlined elsewhere are extremely valid... Don't think lightly about this decision. It's a big change, and despite the admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit in the USA, the deck is really stacked against you (think: healthcare, taxes, etc. etc.)

I quit my job 9 months ago with similar goals - I want to build products that people love. I want to build a company that I can be proud of. I went through a short period of excitement to a period of shock. I've since hit my groove and am now growing my first product. It's been quite the roller coaster.

Stay focussed. Give yourself small goals and take it one day at a time. You'll come out of this a changed man. Good luck!

I know it feels scary, i resigned from a management position in a company i spent my entire career to that date (had some side projects, sometimes successful, but that job was still making most of my living). That was in 2007. Despite being emotional, it proved to be very easy to reinvent myself, and while it never became a real startup, i am much more happy now than then. So good luck, it never harms to change things and it's much easier than it looks.

Maybe, this fact is what makes founding startups, and (as a smaller form of the same), freelancing more profitable than jobs: most people think it is much harder/scarier than it really is, so supply/demand shifts. Everyone wants a job, and there are only so many jobs around, so you have to compete in price. Fewer people want to freelance, and everyone wants to get a specific job done without long term commitments, so it's much easier to breathe in freelance field. When you create startup i.e. innovate, you are in the blue water.

I'm in almost exactly the same situation. Scarily similar. Also 32. Wife is pregnant with our first baby, due February. And I've spent the last few years in the same company, but have reached the point where I want to achieve things that I can't do where I am. So, I handed in my notice a few weeks ago, and my last day is friday.

On monday, I start down a new road :)


There are more than enough nice companies in the Netherlands to go for. I like the same as you; small teams, hacker culture, getting things done. I found that in my companies over the years, but there are plenty of those around depending on what you want to do. Even in slightly bigger teams, it can be hacker culture; q42 (den haag) comes to mind.

Just take some time to talk to people and search around, apply for some stuff! Succes!

Edit: you can of course just start something for yourself; it is very common in NL (ZZP) and it works really well. On your own it's not hard to find gigs, but you have to like that kind of thing. More interesting is to do this with a few like minded folks, work on freelance jobs at companies for a few days a week and in the rest of the time make a niche offering. For instance Jurg van Vliet (9apps) would be someone who did something like that well in the cloud hosting niche.

dank je!

The same suggestion was made to me on twitter. I will surely have a look!

Good luck! Doing contract work as a web/app developer brings in good money (depending on what your expenses are), and also leaves free time (depending on what you charge hourly).

I'm trying the same since July. One of the important lessons I learnt on the way - be super-serious about organising your time. July & half of August flew away in a jiffy as I was trying to do/learn too many (mostly new) things at the same time. I'm trying to form habits around the way I spend time, not letting new ideas distract me on a daily basis.

You've been working in a jungle of roles for 8 years, bet that bit wont be hard. Good luck again :)

I'm also in the process of quitting my job. What I wanted is product development so I decided to focus more on enterpreneurship instead of IT consultancy and data maintainance. So far I learned a lot. More in months than years of IT consultancy. Enterpreneurship is exciting but it is very hard. Its like a rollercoaster. Right now I'm working on quopox.com. It has been a very rewarding experience. I'm also 32 but I don't have much financial burden so it's now or never. Good luck on your endeavor. I wish you all the best!

Which company did you work for?

The first company that comes to mind in the Netherlands for me is Booking.com. If you're looking for contract work to get started, could be worth talking to them?

I would also strongly suggest contacting http://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=jacquesm. He lives in the Netherlands, has started multiple startups, and is a generally wonderful person. If you can prove yourself to him, his network could be an incredibly valuable resource for you.

I worked for Colours. A fullservice Internet Agency in Den Bosch. They have a fairly strict "no re-hiring policy". They don't want to encourage people to quit by hiring them back as contractor immediately. Which I can understand.

I've had contact with Jacques before. I will surely contact him again. Tnx

Congrads, you've made it to HN! Now for Pete's sake add some contact info and details on your blog! I'm from the Netherlands like you, but you're contact page is almost empty. Put your company's name, address, experiences, linkedin, projects and what not on there. You need to start building trust with regards to future clients and people that might want to hire you to help them finish their projects.

Thx, I will add the details. In the mean time. If you need to contact me. Check out: www.wasigh.nl!

Much better! If you make the links in the About page clickable, I think people would really like that ;-)

It will be a exciting and scary day when you are free to do anything.

I will be at his position soon, although i started sharpening my skills a year back and trying out some part-time freelancing right now. I am actually thrilled that i will be able decide what to do 24/7.

For me freedom is the ability to win/fail, without the need to explain anybody once u do so.

All i can say is best of luck and keep us updated on your journey.

If you really mean that resigning is the scariest thing you could imagine, then you're in for some surprises. I assume it's just hyperbole.

Hi, also You can try to do some small code component and sell in http://codecanyon.com It's a great way to earn extra money. And once it's there, you keep getting money without worry about it.

You have a great family, a great wife. Let chase your dream ;). Try your best and wish you luck.

Congratulations and good luck!! There's nothing better than to be working on something you can call your own, and to be building a company of your dreams.

It will be a tough journey ahead, but the courage to resign is a first step. There's a tonne of work that needs to be done so remember to stay FOCUSED. :)

Well, that page certainly resigned on me. Edit: here's the cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttp%...

I just came off my 18 month stint of doing something similar and it was the greatest 18 months of my life :) Good luck! You'll learn more about yourself during this next phase of your life than any other period thus far.

FYI: C9.io, they have an office there. Just in case. Just happened to me the same, best of luck.

Wish you the best, im young, single, not a developer and ive quit. Doing the same :)

Whoops it seems like site is down just at the time it is #1 on HN.

Somewhat of a correlation there.

yep sorry. trying to figure things out ...

Don't be scared, you'll probably end up working more :)

I think we crashed the site. It's not opening.

Very exciting and scary stuff - good luck! :)

Good luck, fellow Tweaker and Dutch person :)

Good for you. Good luck. It's a hard road.

good luck mate. I did the same 11 years ago and never looked back.

Happy Independence Day!

that's the easy part

I think you have acted foolishly and based on your decision you might not be cut out to run a company. The best strategy would have been to develop a business with your free time after work/weekends until you make enough to support you and your family.

When you have children you have very little free time. Maybe 10-15 hours a week if you are really dedicated.

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