You have lived a very sheltered life.
Stupid statements such as the quoted one should be called out. (Living a sheltered life is not anyone's fault by the way.)
It may well be that working for money is the most miserable he can be, that any further stimuli would fail to make him any more so.
Personally, I'm OK with working for money as long as I'm actually paid-- at a consulting rate, not a 40-hour engagement. At $500 an hour, I'll do boring work (for a couple hundred hours). If I'm going to be spending 40 hours per week at it, though, for a middle-class salary; the work damn well better be worth doing.
People on earth are getting killed, raped, enslaved, women are stripping to put clothes on their kids back, etc etc etc
working for money is not the most soul sucking horrible thing ever.
Everything doesnt need to be over the top melodrama, dude didnt like his job, quit it to pursue something he found more meaningful, good for him... i hope the angle he is on does lead to some improvement in the world. but the writing style is annoying.
I agree, to this 100%.
>>At $500 an hour, I'll do boring work (for a couple hundred hours).
$500/hr * 8 hrs/day is $4000 per day or $20,000 per week or $80,000 per month. How does one go about by finding such a job?
I am darn serious and I'm asking you. Do you know how to find such work?
Note: In my country(India) $80,000 comes to around. 40,00,000 per month. That's simply too much, If I ever get paid that much- Frankly speaking I don't even how to spend it.
You've also now demonstrated that you'll drop everything - that investor money, staff, customers, etc, because you don't like something. How will potable water investors react knowing this story? Part of being successful is sticking through with something.
"How does a liquidity event really make a big difference?" If he was really going to exit at $200MM, I'm assuming a decent portion would have gone to him. Having a bank of, say, $10MM should be more than enough to start his potable water business without having to go to investors to get things started the next time (assuming, that is, he believes enough in it to invest a chunk of his own money, not just someone else's).
I don't think investors will take it badly, I don't think they really want to have a founder who's heart isn't in it anymore slaving away at half pace in the hope of making something from the business.
I'm dreaming for a day when I can start a business that installs high powered vacuum suction motors and large hoses into 20 foot utility box trucks so I can help clean the billions of tons of trash that plague our cities.
When I had time I created a hobby of cleaning up small forests and unclaimed land from trash. I'd show up in a green construction vest so people thought I was official and didn't ask questions and would bag all the trash I could find and weighed the bags on a scale. I've got an excel sheet with all my stats. I've picked up over 570 lbs of trash to date. Just in wrappers, McDonalds cups, styrofoam. It's heart breaking to see an area trashy 5 months after I cleaned it up. I stopped doing it because I started wishing death and destruction to the people who littered. It made me angry and bitter towards humanity. I was picking up its trash and it didn't give a damn. I try to ignore it but every time I see trash on the side of the road a part of me keeps saying, "You should invent something that makes it easier to clean that up, think of how clean the whole world could be". The little voice keeps saying "Imagine a giant movable vaccum cleaner mounted on a truck with large hoses sticking out. It could work. Just try.". I can't stop thinking about it.
Your story has actually inspired me to try to go ahead and pursue that dream. If it's one thing tax payers are willing to pay for it's less trash in their neighborhood.
Anyone interested shoot me an email chris at norcophoenix dot com. I know an electrician, a guy who knows where to order the trucks from, and some really cheap office space for startups. I'm in St. Louis Missouri btw.
Not sure if your idea was the invention or starting a service business to offer street cleaning services.
Sounds like a slightly different approach - rather than having a vacuum cleaner of wheels (which can't go off-road). Have an "industrial" version of a standard canister/cylinder cleaner with a very long hose that can be used to clean grass/bushes.
Sounds like a pretty good idea to me!
Your idea definitely has some credence.
"The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small - and for destroying those who destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:18)
>>But my girlfriend challenged this: “How does selling a consumer app company help you disrupt the potable water market?” She was right, and I knew it.
In the same way Bill Gates can solve problems like Polio, Hunger and Poverty by using his fortune. You need money to solve the world's problems, Is this really so hard to understand?
If you have no money you can't solve your own problems. Let alone the world's problems. Without money you will be left working crazy hours to solve your own miniscule problems which aren't relevant beyond house's front door.
You were right there, if you had sold that start up for $200 million. You could take your cut, then spend rest of your life focusing your time, energy and passion on the problems you are interested to solve without worrying about mortgage, debts or anything.
The point is if you're miserable in your job, and you could be doing something else anyway you should change. Which is what makes it different from the other soul destroying examples mentioned. Go back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs and self actualisation. It could be arguably worse to look back on a squandered life when you know it could be different, those who have no opportunity to change their fate do suffer, but in a different way - they aren't the ones causing their misery.
So you decided to shed away your chances of success and the financial capacity to back up the projects you believe in +5 years, +10 years, +15 years from now (etc.) for the time preference of working right now on a project - because there is a water problem in this world.
Tell me, what are you going to do about hunger?
If you really cared about the water problem, couldn't you have donated part of your (steady) income for that?
If you prefer to fix the problem yourself, what are your special skills or experience regarding water?
What are you going to do if your project is deemed "interesting" but not worth investing on - especially now that you won't be able to finance it yourself?
You must certainly place a lot of trust in the goodwill of the future investors, but basically, here you showed that you didn't care about what you were doing, so why should I or anyone else take your word that you won't drop your next project just as quickly as this one?
Unless there is some missing information (ex: you have a 10 years lifespan due to some disease), it doesn't look like refusing the deferred life, but more like taking unneeded risk to get social status (saying you presented at this "Solve for X" conference) under a bleeding heart pretense. Sorry if that's hard - that's just the way I see it.
Anyway, it really seems like a bad decision indeed. If you really hated the job so much, it then begs the question - why did you started it in the first place?
I really hope you can turn around successfully, and find more meaning in your projects.
EDIT: it is good for him, and he will be more happy, but it's not logical. Something sounds out of place in the original post. While he will be more happy, using a charity purpose as the excuse and justification, while it is unlikely to be the best outcome for society, seems phony. Say that you want some fun or social status, that I can believe in. If you really care about solving a problem, who solves it (yourself or someone else) is irrelevant. How it is solved is irrelevant. You just want that fixed. Caring about not getting rich is just as pointless as caring about getting rich. It is a byproduct. You should want to solve the f problem, not want or look for ways to spend your life working on it.
There are tons of great organizations (non-profits, etc.) that are already doing wonderful things in a variety of areas. Even the ones with considerable human resources, knowledge, relationships, infrastructure and donor bases usually typically have a need for more support. What these organizations need less of: duplicative efforts that produce fragmentation and are likely to see good ideas die quietly because those trying to do their own thing couldn't obtain the resources to execute.
It's sad that so many well-intentioned, idealistic people apparently fail to recognize or refuse to believe that minute for minute and dollar for dollar, their time and money will almost always produce a far greater ROI when invested in existing efforts.
Most organizations rely on outsiders who contribute their time, money, expertise and ideas, and they gladly welcome such contributions. By getting involved with an established organization, individuals can often take advantage of its existing resources, increasing the likelihood that whatever is contributed will produce an ROI.
Obviously there's no absolute guarantee of this, and I wouldn't suggest that there's no room for new organizations, but new non-profits are a lot like new businesses: most do not "succeed", and a lot of the ones that don't fail outright plod along and never achieve what was hoped for. It doesn't take more than a quick read of a few random Form 990 filings to see this.
So to put it simply: you do not need to start your own thing to help solve big problems. People who have the itch to save the world would be wise to consider that they are far more likely to make a bigger impact by channeling their time, money, passion and ideas to organizations that have been saving the world for years.
Good for you, Weston. I look forward to hearing about your dragon-slaying adventures.
Some people believe very strongly that collecting the most revenue in the time you have available on the earth is the best possible pursuit a person can have. They do not understand anyone who doesn't share their passion to achieve the highest number of dollars or yuan or yen or rupees.
The real test of belief comes at the end of your life, but during the middle part you believe what you believe.
Consequently any story of following one's passion rather than money will be discounted by folks who don't share that belief, and any story of finding ways to get richer and richer will be discounted by folks who don't share that belief. When you are friends with folks who have one view or the other, and your friendship spans decades, you get a chance to see if you or your friends change views over time.
For a long time I internally beat myself up for not taking Bill Gates up on a job offer in 1978 (chances are if I had stuck with the company I'd be very wealthy now), but as I got older and perhaps more importantly had people I had known well die, I came to appreciate the choices I've made on passions vs money. Not everyone does of course.
Except that money doesn't just magically come and go.
>>But you only live once.
Try living in poverty. Trust me you will see all happiness in money.
Keep on slaying dragons Weston. Even when I'm not passionate about what someone's building, I'm always supportive of people executing. Keep going Weston.
>> If you really cared about the water problem, couldn't you have donated part of your (steady) income for that?
Lets look at this way -
Regarding donating (or paying some one to do what you wanted to do) - Just look around and you will see serial entrepreneurs building their next company bootstrapping from their previous savings. They could well have paid some one to do it (coding, managing etc). Still you will see then right in the middle of the action. The simple reason is, most people love it.
Now regarding if you can't solve all the issues, then you should not solve anything (what are you going to do about hunger,,,) .
So I want to solve the issues with payment processing and I plan to start a Paypal alternative. Here comes some one asking me "what about all these issues with banking " what about "all the other 1000s of problems with the financial sector" ? Can you solve everything ? If not, you should are you trying to just solve a Paypal issue ?
Sure. If you want to do this yourself because you love it, great. But don't pretend it's because you can't stand the thought of some people being without water - if that was really the issue, you'd care about the most efficient way to solve this rather than doing it yourself.
There's lot of scientists whose life objective is to solve a variety of world's problems and they don't want to become rich.
The point is, this guy did not want to be in a startup, he wanted to work directly on doing something to solve the World's water prblem. That's good for him, and IMO it does not make his decision worse than staying doing something that did not fully satisfied him anymore.
But sometimes, you cannot do it.
I have great life plans, but I am moneyless (in fact, having money to by my own food each month is a small victory already), mostly friendless, and powerless (in the sense I do not have political power, or economic power, or friends to leverage, or any other external power).
So I am very sure, that doing something else other than my goal, as a step to do my goal, is not wrong...
By the way, what I do right now I still love to do anyway :) (I make edu apps for little children... not my life goal, but still a noble thing to do, and I hope, profitable)
sounds like you are about to do some cool stuff. excited to see what you come up with.
but, just so you have a different perspective, this is what i heard: you are leaving one company to start another company. the new company does water stuff, and you really like that.
Good read though, even if I had to strain my old eyes.
If you've got an app you want to test, shoot me an email and we'll cover your first test.
Elon Musk didn't start off founding SpaceX, his first big hit was PayPal right? So I'm sure that "online transactions" was about as boring to an aspiring space entrepreneur as "online shopping" is to you, Weston.
Anyway, decisions other people make often look weird to people observing from the peanut gallery - most of all when you make a decision that feels so right it's almost impossible to "unmake" you usually know that, for whatever reason and with whatever reasoning, you've made the right decision for you, now.
On the topic of solving the world's water problems, I'm reminded of a documentary I saw years ago by a Ghanaian national in Nigeria, the name of which escapes me and which I can't find anywhere. It was around the time of the "make poverty history" campaign. This guy went to Nigeria and tried to do a few basic things like get a house, find a job, etc. and found that at every turn he was faced by rampant corruption. He even setup an NGO and started accepting foreign aid with very little trouble.
The final line in the film is "If you want to solve poverty, you first have to solve corruption" which has always stuck with me.
I'm mentioning this because it may be the case that "solving the water problem" for the majority of people won't be a matter of the (relatively) simple application of technology, but a matter of the much more complex application of political will, diplomacy and grass roots activism. You might already have considered this, but since I remembered the doco I thought I'd mention it, too: sometimes there are problems you have to solve before you solve the problem you really want to solve.
Money can grease the wheels but cannot buy a solution that does not exist. That is bought with things like blood, sweat and tears, so to speak.
I remember it well, not with fondness, but regret, because decisions like these cost me the better part of 7-10 years of my life.
Perhaps this is a great decision, only time will tell, but there's something to be said for patience and persistance that leads me to believe this could be a dangerous decision. Here's why...
Your chances of a 200m exit are the same as most, and I don't think it's something you could or should have banked on. On the surface, this looks like a lateral move, and my guess is that the occupational differences won't matter in the long run.
What will matter is the behavior you have exhibited in making this choice.
We gain what we grant ourselves, and in this case, you've granted yourself a rush of impulse, which can lead to addiction and a selfish nature that can become toxic. I don't know you and I can't judge you for it, but from the outside, it seems to me like you are used to always getting what you want, and haven't had to struggle for much.
It's OK to want more, and to believe that you should have it. What isn't OK, is being selfish in your path to get there.
It's strange because we live in this society that celebrates impulse and selfishness as if it were our birthright. I'm talking to you, lifestyle gurus. On the other hand, we also celebrate steadfast determination and 'grinding it out.' In my experience, success comes as a result both in concert together, but because 'grinding it out' takes long-term effort, most throw it out the window.
What I'm getting at is that regardless of what you want, and how quickly you believe you should have it, each and every one of your decisions affects other people. In this case, your decision affects friends, family, founders, investors, and customers. Perhaps there was minimal collateral damage, and it sounds like you were mature in the way you handled this decision, but do remember that it's not just 'your life' at stake. It's everyone's.
I'm sure this was a difficult decision, and I applaud you for having the guts to make it and follow through. Just make sure you don't spend the next portion of your life repeating the same behavior because it suits the selfish gene. Now that you've acted on impulse, it's time to stick to it and make that decision count. It's time to do the work.
Were you looking in the mirror when you said it?
I'll admit that comment is kind of facetious, but I've long wondered whether these sort of self-motivational things ever have a meaningful effect on anything.
Anyway, the core truth that this post runs around is that running a startup isn't for everyone. If it was for you, you'd still be doing it. Running a charity might not be either, but it is healthy to re-examine your life at regular intervals and evaluate whether you really are doing the right thing.
ideas are a dime a dozen, but think about the one idea that you'd be willing to lose sleep, money, time, life, over. the fact that you're passionate about it will probably justify all that.
there are always exceptions, but i think it makes sense, life is short.
on the flip side, i think experience gained doesn't hurt one bit.
So probably better selling that $200M startup and then start your dream business with $10M in the pocket?
In reading this, however, I can't help but read into it a belief of the "inevitability of success". Instead of a $200M exit, you might not see $200. (In which case your decision looks even better.) However, your pursuit of clean water might not be successful either: inability to raise money, technologies issues, uncooperative or greedy governments, etc.
Seriously, if he could quit a start up and go into charity over night I don't think his bank account was hurting.
It always amusing to me how people try to pet their egos, oh hey guys I'm loaded so I'm going to quit my job and sell water to poor kids.
Please look how kind I am, everybody else is so selfish and stuck at work because they are not loaded!