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1-man startups (venturehacks.com)
53 points by nivi on Feb 15, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments



Bit of a bait-y title. Not about 1-person startups, but how the team members at AngelList all have high levels of autonomy and how the culture at AL facilitates that.


Totally misleading title (good choice for AL, bad for HN). I am myself a 1-man startup and it is hard to get any good advice other than "don't be a 1-man startup". Well, I am. And I am pretty sure is the right choice for me for now. I don't want to get in an accelerator, I don't want VC money, I don't need to correspond to anyone expectations about what makes me more likely to succeed. I just want advice on how to improve my chances being a 1-man startup.

Well, so I share my experience for those who came to this post thinking the same thing as I did. An obvious statement is that 1-man startup is not a 1-man's work. I outsourced design and engineering (code to developers, infrastructure to Microsoft Azure). Mostly I am responsible for customer development, product management and growth marketing.

But this year I quit my job in order to learn how to code (simultaneously HTML/CSS, javascript and C#/.NET) and be able to better take charge of my startup. Still, I am talking to two developers (a junior and a senior) to work by the hour, with the expectation to become a full-time member of the team - as a freelancer-mode experience period that, if successfull, become co-founder or Director/VP of Engineering.

My to-do list is long, dynamic and diversified. It is not that hard to keep changing hats, but it is extreme hard to know when to and to which hat change. What is my priority? I have no idea. Talk to early adopters, fix some spceficic bugs, A/B tests on design, handle twitter account, learn how to code, better develop my vision, the product roadmap, etc.

One thing I learned is that complete development outsourcing is a mistake. It is expensive and hard to manage. I wish I had the freelance-as-a-test-to-co-founder approach much sooner. Other lesson (opinion) is that the "learn to code" advice is prioritary to "don't be a 1-man team".

I would love to read more advice out there on how to be a better 1-man startup. Don't bother telling me the best option is not to be.


If you want advice from a fellow single founder, mine is not to give out equity. Keep full control and full flexibility. You will save lawyers fees and will do better in the long run. Focus on covering costs and grow from there.


We call them “1-man startups” internally. Hence the title. =) Actual 1-person startups are an interesting topic too, for a future post.


Waiting for that post! ;)


Me too!


A little bit offtopic, but I really don't get why anyone should care about "how to make successfull company" tips from VCs? VCs are probably better then you at detecting possible winner whey they see one. They also should know a thing or two about traits of successful companies.

But if they really know how to make one, they would do just that. Last time I checked, making a successful company is way more profitable then investing other people's money in one.


Let's say the average startup has a 10% chance of succeeding. An investor-mentor who could groom startups to raise that chance to 20% would be considered a genius and contribute a lot of expected value. But the investor's expected utility would be much higher by coaching and investing in multiple companies than by trying to start their own.


It seems to me that once you have money, it's easier to make more money through investing than it is starting more businesses.


Can you guys list your one-man startup here?


http://www.nuevocloud.com/

no shortcuts: the servers are built from parts to exact specs for the software (no S3!); a clustered file system (that stores files using filename + user + date/time.. so complete file history); webdav server.. the website is powered by my own engine.

Just launched 3 weeks ago.


I'am working on Kettik, a blogging + content/services monetization platform for travellers. The landing page is pretty bare (on purpose) so i'll link to a user profile page (mine) which should give you a better overview of the site.

http://www.kettik.com/meet/saravk

It started as hobby when i quit my job couple of years back and wanted to travel the world & blog about it. I set out wanting to become a travel photographer but instead i found myself spending more time on the site, learning on the go and hacking it together bit by bit (this the first & only website i've ever built).

Now it has come to a point where i believe i could turn it into a viable startup. But the transition from a 1-man hobby/startup to a proper business seems to be quite a daunting prospect, especially since i hail from an environment with little or no startup culture.


Looks nice. Are you perhaps using a symbol font that's not loading for me? I'm getting unicode placeholders in many places in the page.


I'am using Font Awesome (http://fortawesome.github.com/Font-Awesome/). Thanks for the heads up i'll look into the issue, luckily its occurring for me as well on Firefox, so should be easy to fix (hopefully :)


Kind of old, but in it's time PlentyOfFish.com was 1-man startup. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlentyofFish

I would love to get a list of 1-man-startup/companies and their experiences, but chances are that these guys are way too too busy to blog about it.


It's a media player for web. Or chrome, but i am working on moving it to web. A replacement for background media player and a user dashboard and notifications system. (Dashboard work is not released yet)

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/achshar-player/fdd...


Here is mine : http://www.efficontrol.com

Not my first startup. I have come to have up to 10 employees and truly being a 1-man-startup I feel more fulfilled.


An opportunity to spam my project? Sold. https://www.brianstaskforce.com/


I'm doing http://www.makeplans.net/ (online appointment booking)


But you are three, right?

http://www.makeplans.net/about/


In practice just one. The two others are too busy making money developing iOS-apps.


Not a startup yet, but a side-project: www.skejule.com


Side project here too - www.gloopsh.com


Well, I have one: www.elmalabarista.com


www.dealma.com.br, a tool for being a better friend, but it is in portuguese, as I am in Brazil.


The idea is interesting and can work when employee count is small. but when it grows to hundreds or thousands, someone will have to take roles of managing those 1-startups or form groups.


I really like this idea. I was just wondering to myself, how one can teach themselves entrepreneurship much in the way people learn how to code. Using method at AngelList, you can quickly iterate, get feedback quickly and probably the best lesson of them all, Fail. Founding a startup in its present form involves putting all of your eggs into one basket and failing can have a large consequence. Practice makes perfect.


Interesting idea. I would guess that this idea, like many good things at startups, will be have to change when you get to 20 or 30 people. Correct?


This is great. My favorite part is that you have internal "support services" to help with design/refactoring, etc.




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