People keep bringing up that they'd like the service more if it gave the funds to a friend or a charity. Reminder: The mission of the site is to make you want to do the thing rather than pay money. Giving to a good cause would be a disincentive, or reason not to "just fucking do it".
Heck, if the site really wants to maximize it's value to users for the stated goal, it should probably donate the majority (or a token amount) to the Church of Scientology.
It seems like it goes to the owners of the site... which gives me an idea for a business. I will be the 'friend' for anyone who signs up for this service, and when they fail, I'll charge them $5 to lie to GFDI. It's bulletproof.
I actually like the payment system. Built-in monetization and no worries about how the project could be sustained.
If it went to the friend, it'd create a perverse incentive for your friend to not actively encourage/support you. Sure, most friends won't consciously respond to this incentive, but I think subconsciously they'll care less.
If it went to a charity, I wouldn't really feel bad about losing it. It'd significantly decrease the threshold of pain and thus decrease the incentive.
Since it goes to the "greedy" owner, I feel all the more pressure to get it done.
Having it go to the first friend encourages an obvious bias, although that just depends on how much you trust that friend. Having it all go to you, the site owner, seems a bit unfair (a massive reward/effort ratio!) and nominating a charity would be an excellent way of mitigating that. I've heard of a similar incentive-based scheme in which you pay money to an entity you dislike (e.g. democrat donating to republican party) if you fail.
1. Benevolent option: the money goes to the website but it goes back to the user after a year, less a fee (the website will also earn interest for that year so you'd get fee + interest income). Not only do you help people stop procrastinating but you also help them with a saving program.
2. Devious option (and probably more commercially viable). the website takes the money but the website also runs a weekly lottery that pays out some fraction of the revenue collected.
What I don't quite understand is: what kind of person would rather pay 25USD to some -- for all intents and purposes -- unknown organization over a good friend whom they know will hold them accountable. Plus it'll be a whole lot harder to lie to a friend; with this, it's as simple as clicking the other button.
If the money went to the friend, it would be easier to recruit them. Although in that case, they will have a perverse incentive to hinder your progress. Perhaps it's better to have the money go to a non-profit org of your choice.
I am planning to run a similar challenge, and I have been struggling with correctly naming it, since I won't actually be creating startups (no actual business plan, no nothing).
I think 12 sideprojects in 12 months would be more appropriate, at least to the approach I'm planning to take.
Regarding this project, I follow the creator on Twitter and he announced it yesterday I believe, and today I was thinking about it and ran into the same question "does the money go to the website or to the friend?".
Logistically, I don't think paying the friend would be something easy to do (does Stripe even allow for something like that?). Going 100% to a non-profit would leave no room for profit, so I would personally go with 80/90% to a non-profit of choice and keep the remainder as a fee.
As you can prove to yourself by rereading the parent comment of mine, I have stated not that “good ideas and inspiration are not a product of routine”, but that “good ideas and inspiration do not come up routinely”. To further explain my thoughts, let me add that one need not be inspired or have a good idea to train themselves (training is what the kind of routine we're talking about ultimately is), but need be wishing to train and have some idea, which need not be good.
It is a fine method of developing one's art/science/etc... skills to regularly practise, but not a fine method when it comes to startups and founding companies, think I; for such things happen to have consumers, people who may be favouring the product and incorporating it to their daily lives, which will be disrupted when the founder loses their interest in that product and proceeds to the next month's startup.
They may have had a goal of building 12 web sites in 12 months, or 12 blog posts in 12 days, but this person chose to launch 12 startups each month, and launch those to press. Launching companies regularly is dissimilar to painting regularly. (TBH, I did not double check if this serial founder is referring to some ordinary web application as startup)
It is also the basis of the Lean Startup Machine weekend (phenomenally popular).
You can train yourself to have ideas. Good is just an evaluation system.
People may indeed be incorporating a new product into their lives and the Founder will need to manage customer expectations and fallout. A high likelihood of discontinuance does not disqualify his attempts from being a startup.
The truth is, from a validation perspective the OP may have stumbled onto a supremely successful model of idea validation. Build it, tweak it, pump it for 11 months. The next project has 10 months. The next 9. Etc. Compare the metrics after one year and choose the most successful.
However, the statement that good ideas do not come up routinely and is false. They may just not be routine for you
come up: (Of an issue, situation, or problem) occur or present itself, especially unexpectedly 
inspiration: A sudden brilliant or timely idea 
If an entrepreneur trains via founding companies, then, should an architect train via filling the city up with half-arsed buildings? Nowhere in the pg article does occur something like “build random ideas into companies routinely”. Also, in that write-up is writ:
> If you're not at the leading edge of some rapidly changing field, you can get to one. For example, anyone reasonably smart can probably get to an edge of programming (e.g. building mobile apps) in a year. Since a successful startup will consume at least 3-5 years of your life, a year's preparation would be a reasonable investment. Especially if you're also looking for a cofounder.
Love it. The idea has been tried before, but I've never seen an incarnation this simple. I like that there's no requirement to create an account (for either me or my friend) and the UI feels perfectly sized for the complexity of the task.
Plus, it works. I'd been meaning to clean my desk for weeks, but after assigning $50 to getting it done today I finally did it.
I get the point. I'm saying that if you're willing to potentially lose $50 over 5 minutes worth of self-discipline you might as well spend it on a cleaning service and get a few hours worth of self-discipline instead.
It doesn't matter where the money goes to in the end, the only thing that matters is the risk taker loses the money.
There's a very big difference between "internet friend I've known for 4 years and I would consider him a decently close friend" and "I'm willing to hold this guy accountable for $1,000".
I think you guys under estimate at how hard it will be to find an accountability partner who is actually worthy. Your family members will have a bias to not let you lose the money. Really close friends (the people you can trust) might too but the questionably close friends aren't quite trustworthy enough to let them decide on your $500, etc..
>It doesn't matter where the money goes to in the end, the only thing that matters is the risk taker loses the money.
Sure it does. It's the difference between expecting people to behave morally and expecting them to behave in their own rational self-interest. The latter isn't completely reliable, but it's a much, much safer bet than the former.
Does every project someone spits out on a domain name automatically constitute it as a start-up? Is he intentionally building a solid business around this and actively trying to scale it? Is there anything to this other than a preposterous personal goal and obtaining that sweet HN cred?
This is a personal project with no intended future other than the experience. Calling it a start-up is going overboard.
No I am not, nor did I assume that grand position. Good for scaling? Possibly. Good in general? It does not mean anything especially if you compare to the garbage that winds up within the top 20 links each day.
I defend my position as a sentient being that can offer sane judgement. He's doing 12 'start-ups' in 12 months. I should not have to say anything else to justify why this is such an absurd idea. His reasoning is that he can do this because someone else completed 180 projects in 180 days. The analogy alone should tell you that he is not taking this as seriously as he should for each to be considered a start-up (realistically). Practice is excellent but he's doing this for the number not for the raw value of any particular experience.
Start-ups are solid in the definition that they should have a reasonable business plan to expect anything of value (experience, cold hard cash, what have you). There are objective manners in which to approach whether something has merit as opposed to viewing business plans in a nebulous fashion believing that 'everything is possible!'
Personal projects and start-ups are not mutually exclusive, nor did I state this. I said that a project should not automatically become a start-up.