I always wanted independence. I never wanted employees. SaaS is a wonderful business model for that. It took 10 years and a dozen ideas to find 2 businesses I could run on my own, be low-touch enough that I'd not have to be hands-on with every customer, and pay enough to be a viable alternative to employment. Most of my web app ideas didn't go anywhere, nothing happened overnight, but eventually I had the right mix of learned skills, experience, and luck to do something right.
I spent 10 years living like a broke college student. I was a broke college student in the beginning, but I didn't move past the one-bedroom apartments and cheap home cooked dinners until I had some solid business and a good runway in the bank. I was never a risk taker.
Now I pay myself a $30K/month salary. I saved enough to buy a house, rather than mortgage a house. Met an awesome girl and moved her, and her pets, in with me. She's always hated the work she originally trained for, and has gone back to school for a career she's passionate about -- working with large animals. I've been working every other day, a few hours at a time, recently. I work more in the summers than the winters, just because I prefer working outside in my sunroom with the fresh air, but it's not heated. We spend most of our time together, taking day trips, eating out, visiting friends, and don't worry much about money.
I'm also an undergrad and what I largely find is that it would be easier to be in an LDR with regards to your workload because you don't have as many daily "commitments" if you want to call them that, i.e. you're not trying to balance your projects with going out to eat a few times a week. The expectation is that you're not going to be seeing each other all the time, so theoretically you would have more time to spend on your work. I'd be interested to hear why you've found the opposite to be true (aside from CS, I think my true passion is relationships ;-) ). Now, give me a non-LDR relationship any day and I'll find a way to make time.
Originally the plan was for me to go down to go to her after I graduated (to Florida) but I got an interview for an internship in NYC, which I performed well in, which was converted into my receiving a full-time offer in Manhattan. I accepted since it is at a firm I wanted to work for since I was in high school. Literally my dream job. She was open to the idea of moving up with me but she enrolled in an academic program that would have added another 2 years of an LDR after already 1.5 years. She was perpetually sad over the summer when I interned in NYC (she was living with me for a month) because we couldn't spend time together even though my working hours were quite good compared to my friends in Seattle and Palo Alto, and I realized my ambitions were met with ambiguity and a slow-growing resentment.
The pushing back of an "end date" for longer and longer eventually led to my feeling that overall it would be healthier to end it, additionally considering the changes that happened in our lives over the course of the relationship. That being said our goals had also diverged significantly.
I knew what was important to me so I decided that it was best to move on since our long-term goals were no longer aligned, but it was an incredible experience that I'm lucky to have had. Not everyone gets to meet someone that, for a time, they connect with so well. I look at it as a learning experience that has made me a better person which I'm told is the best perspective to have.
Sell to small businesses. Not consumers (too hard to convince them to spend money), not enterprise (too much work for me; I hate sales).
Make something that will earn the customer money, or save them money. If it can earn or save them more than you charge, it's easy to sell, and they'll be happy to pay for it. That covers a surprisingly large number of potential business ideas any developer could create on their own. One of my first successful ones was just a WordPress plugin to add Amazon-style review/rating capabilities to any site, before anyone else had commoditized that. It saved money (versus hiring a developer) and earned money (most of the customers were affiliate marketers building product review/comparison sites, and their sites earned them more commissions when they had good-looking user reviews on the product pages). I made $250K from that plugin before selling the business on Flippa.
Make it easy to get that value out of your product as soon as possible. I do a free trial. I expect users to at least "get" how they can earn or save money using the product before that trial's over. The most important aspect to that is to get onboarding right: good lifecycle e-mails, a good first-login experience, and walkthroughs or something else that guides new users through the product. That's also what minimizes the customer service load.
If you have a good product, the customers will come. Well, maybe you'll need some AdWords ads to get the first ones; that's what I did. Now there's 2-3 signups a day that are just referrals from existing customers. It's enough to stay ahead of subscription churn.
Oh, and pricing is important. I doubled W3Counter's MRR by changing the plans around and adding annual billing. Improvely's MRR grows as the customers' businesses grow since pricing is tied to the level of traffic their sites get. The value they get out of the product grows with that too, so everyone's growing together and happy about it.
I guess the bottom line is your platform is much more approachable and easier to understand. Thanks for the response.
Got a ton of value out of your post. Just wondering one thing, how much of Improvely did you build before you started running ads?
My partner kidnapped my children to different country.Three week granparent visit for "trial" will be soon two years. I dont have much options, so I followed. Now I am at country with zero friends and unknown language. I can not order in shop, my children just started talking in foreign language and I need translator.
This brings lot of stress, but it is also (sort of) distraction free. There is basically a truce with my partner. I am lucky to work from home and spend lot of time with my children.
I work about 2 hours/day to pay our bills. For another 5 hours I work on my "PROJECT". Very niche programming library in good field. Next year it will be ready, I am planning to divorce and scale up the business.
I am 10x programmer in very narrow field, all this reduces my productivity to third, so still doable.
Bad: Have to keep most customers happy.
Good: Can tell that one customer who is genuinely being an asshat, to go fuck himself.
Tarsnap sometimes has "problem customers", but I have yet to see one who is trying to be a problem. It's not really the customer's fault if they don't know how to install a compiler, think that uploading 100 GB over a 512 kbps cable modem will only take a few hours, or can't figure out how to enter a valid tar command (cue xkcd).
I do my best to help such customers, which usually involves refunding their money and pointing them in the direction of dropbox, spideroak, or duplicity.
Working in customer support I can tell that you Sir, are living the dream.
Although I would love to be able to fire a few customers but I'm sure my benefits are probably better if you are early stage. I actually had better healthcare before acquisition. Which suprised me.
That's about as big as I can manage it, so that works out. Not looking to expand at the moment. Some people may work for us full time when they wrap up their day job.
The lifestyle part of it is that 7 days out of the week, I wake up whenever my body wakes up and pretty much roll over to the computer desk and start working. I'm married (with no children), and although it took her a bit to really buy in on giving me uninterrupted development time, I finally have that for most of the day. I pretty much do this until 9-10pm, and then my wife and I catch up on TV shows or watch a movie or two.
There are, of course, minor distractions throughout the day like reading HN, or playing a few iphone games. In order to combat that, I hold off on doing anything like that until I hit micro milestones on my current task.
As far as money goes, I left my full-time job in order to work on this idea, so there's absolutely no income until I start generating it from customers. I'm borrowing against my house to pay the bills, but that's how much I really believe in what I'm working on, and I've intentionally forced myself into this position because it makes me prioritize everything as if my life depended on it (which it does).
What makes it hard is I am a single parent; fortunately he's old enough that he can get to and from school on his own. But it's tremendously tough to give him the time he needs. Luckily if I manage that it gives me the "off time" I need too. Which is great since I've abandoned, for a time, all the other stuff I used to like to do (camping, playing tennis, reading, biking, writing code for fun...). I sit with him while he's doing homework and can answer mail and do other interruptible tasks and still talk to him about his homework, help him write something etc.
I figure there are another couple of years in this nozzle and then the pressure will drop. But at the same time: I wake up in the morning and that's when I want to read HN or my RSS feed simply because the rest of the time I'm having waay too much fun working.
Now (1.5 year later) busy with international roll out (we're in Europe) so working a few 12 hour days + flying when abroad, then taking regular "no phone, no email, just girlfriend" weekends to relax and make up for not seeing her for a few days a week.
The reality is that hours don't mean that much if you get energy from your work instead of spending energy on it like I would when I was working in a "normal" job. But even then I feel it is important to keep time for sports and enough focused "offline" time with your boy/girlfriend or kids. Otherwise it becomes unhealthy over the long term even though you feel a lot of accomplishment / enthusiasm.
I am living off what I made with my last startup and work fulltime on my new startup. Most days I jump out of the bed and start working 7am in the morning. And often I am still working at midnight.
The one thing that bugs me: I decided to not travel until my current venture is making 5 figures per month. I miss traveling. I am looking forward to the time when money is pouring in again and I can take a one way flight to wherever I like. And stay in some comfortable airbnb apartment or upper class hotel room for as long as I like. That's what I was doing when my last startup was flourishing. Now that I am living off my savings it would feel somehow wrong to do that.
I can relate to bionic's description "living in a dimension outside of space, time, matter, mass and gravity". It's all my own rules. My own goals. My own story that nobody around me can relate to.
How long (from the start) do you think it will take until you do 5 figures per month?
We both applied to YC summer 2014, were turned down. As the "business" founder (although I make a few commits every week as well) I sought clients out, and we found a medium sized retailer who had some backend issues almost by accident. We became their DBA for 100k USD a year each  (something we have a collective decade experience in) plus a work permit so we could live there, working half time. We spend the other half working on our idea, which turned out to be a good thing because the two AI problems core to our success took a bit longer than planned to be solved (our 40+ competitors all use humans).
I save around 50-60% of my salary, fly to exotic countries at least monthly (typing this from Australia, going to Japan in 3 weeks) without having to take leave, I live in a nice flat in the centre of town (next to the President's house) in a first world city with nice weather, I never have to wear a suit, and best of all, we don't answer to anybody because the client treats us as expert consultants, not an employee (there is a significant difference!) and we don't have investors and won't need any. The chilled out nature of an easy DBA job with good (enough) money means we can do research properly and build a good quality product. I have to say, whilst I understand PG's dislike of bootstrapping vs taking investor money (and it makes sense when your idea is new and first mover advantage is important)... well, it's a really nice way to start up I think. YMMV. I think financial freedom, and freedom from irrational management techniques designed to control you and not just your output, is by far the highest quality of life improvement I ever made.
 There is some fuzziness here about the terms of the visa from the gov. Technically, you're supposed to work for only one employer; that is, you can't just work part time and build your own business with the other half, nor have a split company visa. In practice, a lot of people do it and the government is very pro-entrepreneurship; but I'm not leaving a paper trail just in case.
 Cost of living and taxes are quite low here, so in SF terms that's probably equivalent to 200k.
It's not sustainable, the end's in sight but perversely it's quite liberating. I feel like I've finally achieved complete internal acceptance of what I'm doing.
Overall, and I'm embarrassed to say this but this is the best lifestyle I could ever imagine. To be successful while living free like this feels almost like its unfairly good, though I'm not sure yet if I'll ever experience that.
We try and do volunteer stuff as when you're a founder it's so easy to be self centred. This helps us look outward and be less wingy bitches when the shit hits the fan.
I never minded the stress prior to this last year, generally if I get burned out I take a vacation and I'm good after 10 days on the beach. But, this last year has been very stressful and it has taken a full year to find a solution to that. Stress management is key to maintaining a good lifestyle, I exercise a ton, and working to add meditation to my daily habits (you need both).
I love the flexible time, if I need to take a day off I take it off, and I put it back in somewhere else. As the company has grown in size it is a little more rigid in structure, I've got meetings on Monday/Tuesday that I usually can't skip. But usually that leaves Wed/Thur/Fri free for project work and no meetings.
I love to travel and this lifestyle. Since the entire company is remote it doesn't matter where I am. I traveled for all of 2012 and 2013, I spent a year in Australia, 6 months in europe/UK, and 6 months in South America. I am typing this from Nice France where my wife and I will be for a month, and then Croatia for a few months. I use AirBNB to find places to stay and it has worked out brilliantly so far.
I go to 3 to 4 conferences a year, sometimes more, I really enjoy the industry I am in and have a fair number of friends through that network + work meetups. Given the nomadic nature of my life for the last 5 years, and the higher hours I don't have a ton of close close friends. Just a few from college and it is hard to maintain those friendships when we are all different places in the world. I am looking forward to being a bit more settled as I've gotten older :).
The hardest part? It is hard to shut down, it is a constant battle to make sure my life has balance, both for hobbies, and for my wife/family. I would imagine that once kids are added to the mix that will really adjust some of my priorities and time :)
If I can help in anyway my email is email@example.com,
I wake up at 6am for a morning run, do some meditation, get a quick breakfast and am in the office by 8am. Time moves too quickly (startup relativity?), the next thing I know it's 10pm and everyone has left the office, by 10/11pm i'm out the door, back home and asleep by 12. This is Mon-Sat.
On Sunday a few of my colleagues and I would find a cafe and work there from 10am-7pm then head for dinner or back home.
I haven't seen my bestfriend in 3 months, it didn't work out with my girlfriend because of the working hours and i've missed too many birthday parties to count.
It's not ideal but I found if I really wanted something, I have to be willing to give up something of equal importance to focus. If I could go back I wouldn't change anything about this.
2009: "Student Life" / CloudFlare started as a student project. First year felt very academic. Worked irregular hours. Weren't sure what we were supposed to be doing. Lots of research. Lots of change (relocated from Boston to the Bay Area). The whole time we didn't really think we were building a company, we thought we were researching an interesting problem and seeing if we could come up with solutions for it.
Pre-October 2010: "Playing Company" / We'd raised money at the end of 2009 and hired our first employees and moved into our first office in Palo Alto in Jan 2010. I'd take the train from SF every morning answering emails on my iPad on the way down and playing Angry Birds (for a stint I was among the top ranked players in the US) on the return. We struggled to get our first 100 beta users and took the whole team to Vegas when we did. We weren't sure exactly what we were building and sometimes the uncertainty made me anxious but generally this was a fun time. The 60 days before we launched at TechCrunch Disrupt on Sept 27th were stressful but fun and incredibly productive. Everyone had a clear goal and date it needed to be done by.
Personally, I was wearing many hats (occasional coder, biz dev, and primary customer support) and nearly 100% of my time was dedicated to obsessing about CloudFlare. There was still a lot of uncertainty and throughout the course of 2010 there was increasing sense that we had a big opportunity and it was ours to take or screw up.
During this time I tried all kinds of tricks to manage my own psyche. Most effective was going to Suchadda Thai Massage near my house every weekend and getting a 90 minute really deep tissue massage that was hard enough that it took my mind off anything other than the knee or elbow being jabbed into my back. I'd been dating a woman who was an academic for the last two years but had become a pretty terrible boyfriend. Not a surprise that we broke up just after this period.
October 2010-December 2011: "Chaos" / We launched. We didn't get around to putting on any limits on who could sign up so anyone and everyone did. Thousands signed up in the first few days. Every signup increased the traffic across our network. There were only 8 of us and we were running a 24x7 network. I lost the ability to sleep for more than about 2 hours at a time. My phone would buzz with every network issue. At the same time, it was fun to see that things were generally working. Customer attention lead to investor attention and the relationship with investors shifted from us pitching them to them pitching us. I wasn't doing any more coding and spent much more of my time managing potential investors and trying to recruit. We moved the office to San Francisco within a few blocks of my house. Being closer removed the regular routine of the train and, somewhat counter-intuitively, meant I worked longer hours because the last bullet train leaving Palo Alto didn't define the end of work anymore.
With the lack of predictability came a feeling that every day held a new crisis. One afternoon in the spring of 2010 we got word some group called Lulz Security had signed up. Then the media started calling. We had no idea who Lulzsec was. I stayed in the office well past midnight reading Twitter and articles on the group and trying to figure out what to do. I only went home when I got spooked sitting in our dark office and thought I heard someone. I headed home only to be awakened by a call from my co-founder. Turned out someone had broken in and four laptops had been stolen. I raced back to the office and a bunch of us holed up on a conference room and debated (seriously) whether it was the hackers, law enforcement, or some corporate espionage agent who had broken into the office. That's how crazy life felt. Turned out the truth held fall less intrigue: it was a simple burglar who had broken into several other offices and was caught several months later.
I started dating a cancer surgeon. She lived on the other side of San Francisco and had a similarly chaotic schedule. We'd find time to get dinner a couple nights a week and exchange stories about the chaos in each others' lives. Having nothing in common almost felt like a virtue for a time as we could both provide each other an escape.
2012 - 2013: "Growing" / We built up the start of a competent team and things began to feel more stable. I started to attend more external events and spend more time outside the office. Started attending more conferences. Telling the CloudFlare story more broadly. I started writing regularly for our blog, largely telling stories about technical challenges we'd faced and how we solved them.
Being more of a public figure made me more of a target. Some of our less savory users, or the hackers trying to take down the sites we protected, decided to mess with me from time to time. I'd been pretty casual with the personal details of my life. It wasn't hard to find my cell phone number or home address. One night at 4:00am I had the SWAT team called on my home. Thankfully they rang the buzzer rather than breaking down the door. At the office, we regularly had bomb threats phoned in. We became pretty good friends with Maggie the bomb sniffing dog. Our Board suggested that I should have personal security, especially when traveling, which seemed absurd given how small a company we were. It also didn't thrill my quite private physician girlfriend. Having nothing in common started to be more of a liability and we broke up.
2014 - Today: "Real CEO" / Today I have three jobs: recruiting, external affairs, internal affairs. I spend about equal time on each. We're hiring about 3 people a week at this point and I still talk with all of them to answer their questions and try and judge whether they'll be a cultural fit. External affairs involves speaking to customers, investors, analysts, bankers, media, etc. Internal affairs involves a bit of product strategy but mostly managing people and team dynamics. Talking with CEOs of public companies that are far ahead of where we are today, my sense is this will be my role for the rest of my time leading CloudFlare.
My work day is pretty tightly scheduled but I have quite a bit of control of that schedule. I don't have a lot of downtime during the day which has made it harder to find time to do things at work I used to really enjoy, like writing technical blog posts. I find myself much more playing what Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, described as "switchboard operator": taking some input of an idea and routing it to the right person on our team. It's rare that I write an email that's more than a couple sentences anymore. It surprises me every day to walk into the office and see so many people. We've passed the Dunbar Number of employees and it's hard that I don't have a personal relationship with everyone on the team. Soon I won't know everyone's name. We've tried to keep the organization very flat, in order to ensure that we're the kind of place where the best idea will win, and I am surprised whenever I hear someone hesitates to "waste my time" with something because I'm "the CEO." I try to stay approachable but see how that inherently gets more difficult over time.
I'm getting better at taking time for myself, secure in knowing there's a great team handling things better than I could myself. As a fellow founder said recently, the job of CEO is to fire yourself from every job within the company -- and replace yourself with someone more competent. I like that and think it's right.
I'm proud of the fact that the three of us that co-founded the company are all still at the company and are all still friends who respect each other. That's very rare. Our story would make for a very boring book. Other personal relationships are sometimes difficult. You lose a lot of friends along the process of starting a company -- largely because I haven't made time to keep up the relationships. At the same time, I've met a lot of great new people who I think will develop into meaningful, long-term friends. Dating presents a real puzzle -- but that's a whole other topic for another time.
Looking ahead we're likely on the path to being a public company and I'm trying to spend as much time talking with other newly public CEOs about how that changes their lifestyle. For now, I count myself fortunate that I can take a few hours on a sunny Saturday morning in San Francisco and, on a whim, sit down and write an answer to this question and not have to send it my our compliance department to ensure it doesn't contain any forward-looking statements.
You seem really positive about your work, like you enjoy all aspects of it. Is that true, or are there parts you hate?
Went full time 3/14 after getting into another accelerator. Since then work about 10+ hrs 6-7 days a week, sometimes taking the occasional weekend off. Started charging 5/14 and have been profitable since day 1. Pay myself and cofounder a nominal salary (~2k/m). By early '15 have grossed over 100k and still profitable.
We have about 5 consistent contractors that we pay for different parts of the business and work harder than ever managing time and people. I don't code as much as I like to anymore (still ~40 hrs per week), but I work just as hard. Only ever have more things to do, never less.
It pays pretty well--even though I'm nowhere near charging what I've been told would be the going rate for my skill set--well enough that my wife and I took three camping trips and three international trips last year, and took the entire December holiday season off.
I don't own a car anymore; we are a one-car household now. Well, I do own one, but it hasn't ran for three months now and I'm probably just going to donate it. I exclusively work remotely. I'll occasionally walk to a coffee shop or co-working space (I live just outside of DC in the Old Town district of Alexandria). It's kind of lonely, but it's a hell of a lot better than having a boss.
The rest of the time, I (try to) make things that interest me and try to develop them into salable products. But, I'm having some issues with self-doubt. I've had tons of side projects over the years and none of them have led to anything, mostly because I've never managed to put any of them up for sale, because I believed they weren't good enough to sell, because I tend to focus on big chunks of interesting, technical work rather than the long-tail of chore issues, both technical and non-technical.
But finally, after 10 years, I got one project up and running on its own site with a "buy" button. Nobody has bought it, and I still don't really feel like it's worth buying, but at least I've gotten over that one particular hangup.
I'm hoping I can just keep whittling away at the hangups and skill deficiencies, one by one, until I've got something with all the right parts and all the right moves. I'd just like to know how close I am, though.
On any given day, it's difficult to manage everything. When you have customer service, outreach, growth, and development to do, something gets dropped. There's never quite enough time.
Then there's the difficulty in taking time off. When you try to make time for other parts of your life, you're always looking at the things that you didn't get to and thinking about when you're going to do them. I don't go to as many happy hours as I used to; I certainly don't organize them. I'm not playing volleyball right now. I try to workout, but it's hard to tear yourself away from the computer when it'll just take another hour to finish your current task. It affects your conversations, your relationships, your health, everything. It is consuming.
On any given weekday, I work at least 10 hours. Generally it's about 12-14. I make sure to take a night or two off to spend time with my fiancee. On the weekend, I try to fit in time with her as well but I'll still get in at least 4 hours each day, sometimes more like 8.
I get stressed about money a lot. We're bootstrapped so not everyone is in this situations. In any case, everything is framed in terms of how many months we have left. That 12 dollar sandwich? That's a couple days of server time. An expensive car repair? That's a whole month of our runway.
And yet, it's the most rewarding thing you can ever do. You get to build something from nothing. People use it. They talk to you about it. You are making the decisions. And it isn't going to last forever. It'll last for a long time, but it'll get better. But most importantly, I wake up every morning without an alarm and am eager to get back to work.
of course you can take a vacation, you just don't want to. your ego is bound up in a workaholic identity and you've lost grip on reality.
every small business owner or co-founder i've ever known takes at least a week off every year and most government holidays, because it's the responsible thing to do when you work with other humans.
Wake up at 7am, work out, work until 7pm, rush home to eat quickly for 20 minutes (on the walk to and from work listening to podcasts about startups and business), and working until midnight.
Weekends, spend the afternoons working. Paying ourselves (two founders) $36k/year until we reach certain milestones.
I make tradeoffs - there is only really time for work, working out, and occasionally going out. This means not a lot of time with friends, going back to China to see extended family, and constantly feeling stressed.
But getting to work full-time on something you believe in and having the opportunity to build a great business and achieve financial independence is totally worth it.
(Of course in the real world there are lots of deviations from this, but this is the goal schedule.)
The free time I have I use to run around Hong Kong Island where I live and elsewhere, in the university library reading various books.
Our days are fairly planned and we try to keep things routine as much as possible, consistency helps immensely. Also we've managed to ensure everything we need is fairly close by. We live about 10-15 minutes from work and our daycare and gym are both in close proximity to our office. We each typically have two scheduled mornings a week to hit the gym, one of us goes to the gym and the other deals with daycare. We also occasionally hand off daycare pick-up to allow the other to work a bit later. In fact, we hand-off on a lot of things to make everything work, particularly meetings, typically only one of us will go so the other can stay at work and grind on other things. As a software developer this is pretty important, I can skip out of a lot of meetings and keep working on product and we can catch up on what happened in the evening.
Having a child means our days need to be somewhat time-boxed so there's little room for severely late work hours. I actually believe this to be a good thing, as I'm forced to get the most out of my work time and continue to improve on my time management skills. That said, we're often catching up on things during downtime, weekends, evenings and since we live together, we have the advantage (or disadvantage depending on how you look at it) of being able to discuss work whenever we need to. To make things even more interesting my brother and father work in a related business, so family dinners can be... interesting.
Outside of that we try to keep everything pretty normal and we enjoy our downtime. We like to cook a lot, we make a regular trip to the market most Saturdays with our daughter. We cook dinner with our daughter often and eat at home often which provides valuable family time. The grandparents usually watch our daughter on Friday nights so we can hang out of with friends once a week as well, and we occasionally sneak out to have a drink together, after her bed-time, while they stay and watch her.
Almost all of our family lives nearby, so my parents and her parents help out a lot. It really starts to become a team effort to make everything work out without an excessive level of stress. I can't stress enough how important family is when things get to this level of "busy".
Like most people here, we love what we do. We don't mind being somewhat "always on" and we try to plan our lives in a way the reminds us to do other things too and not to neglect family and friends. That's the bigger challenge I think, not figuring out how to work hard at something you love, but remembering to live your life too.
Overall, we are very fortunate things have worked out as well as they have.
Developers are working remotely abroad.
I work probably around 60 hours/week, but it is hard to say exactly since work and fun intertwine.
I have found that at about $30K a month in spending money, is more money than I need, even in the most expensive cities (as long as I’m hanging out with normal people with normal jobs and don’t do anything to crazy that month).
Currently, I live between Aspen, CO and San Juan, PR. I live in Aspen, because it is my favorite place in the world. There are so many amazing outdoor activities and the girls there are the best in the world (for me, I'm kind-of and extreme sports person and there are a lot of girls like that up there). The party scene is hard to beat up in Aspen, in both the summer and the winter.
Mostly though, I dirt bike all summer in the mountains and ski and snowmobile all winter.
I just recently moved to Puerto Rico for a percentage of the year for the great tax benefits of living here. So far it has been really good. I live in Old San Juan, which is somewhat like living in the Mission in SF. Dirty, grimy, hispstery and fun.
I walk or get driven everywhere I go. I don't like driving at all and don't really need to either place I live. I am in walking distance to 20 great bars and restaurants in both places.
I try to work every weekday from 8am-4pm EST no matter what timezone I’m in. That doesn’t always happen, but the more I work, the better, more stable and more profitable my business gets.
What I have found to be most important, is to make sure that I get up and get emails out early, so that no matter what is really going on in my life, it signals to everyone who interacts with my business that, I’m up early and working hard every day, which is often the case anyway.
However, for example, on Friday me my employee and a girl from down here, took the day off and had an awesome drunken brunch on the beach.
My number one employee and best friend, lives and travels around with me. We are an awesome team together and get shit done in all parts of our lives. We eat out every meal and I literally pay for everything for him when we are together. It feels a lot like he is my kid in a lot of ways, lol.
I’ve had girlfriends throughout the years, but almost every one of them has been unemployed or working on something like acting or trying to start a business. It is really hard for me to date someone with a 9-5, I think because my lifestyle is so flexible (I also require a lot of attention). My last girlfriend was a consultant and worked at home, which was the best set up so far. We would just work next to each other from each others apartments.
It took a good amount of time to get here. I’ve been founding companies for about 6-7 years. This is my third entity. Back in the day I was living on the floor in the ghetto of Berkeley, CA without an extra dime to spend on anything other than Ramen.
I’m looking to the future right now. Hoping to grow my business, save some money, spend a lot of money and have a lot of fun.
My next big plan, is to get a harem of girls to simultaneously be my girlfriends and travel with me between Aspen, Puerto Rico and the rest of the world. I’ve been working on it, getting apartments set up in both places that will work for this. Also, I’ve been looking for super smart, super hot girls who would be down for this.
So far, you’d be surprised at the reactions of most of the girls who I tell my plan to. Very few have been negative about it. Most have been at minimum supportive and they think it is cool.
I know it is a ridiculous “goal” for the future, but there are no real rules and boundaries in my life and I am going to do my best to take full advantage of this one awesome life :)
So far I think I’m on a good track.
My main luxury is eating out. I don't sweat ordering what I want. I get that appetizer when I want it. I don't wince when a waiter reminds me that refills cost.
I live in a modest city apartment.
Last year, I took a few short vacations. Nothing extravagant. They were the same types of vacations I might take if I were employed as a developer.
I travel a lot to promote my business. When I travel on business, I make sure I'm in a nice hotel, eat nice meals, and I travel comfortably.
When I'm home, I wake up around 10am. I go through email and whatever other distractions I come up with . I go eat lunch and then I head to my office. I usually work until dinner time. Some days I work after dinner until I go to bed. Other days I don’t. I slow down, here and there, to avoid burn out.
My personal financial goal is to build a retirement account capable of supporting a modest life style. I don't know what the rest of this ride looks like, so I'm trying to capitalize on it and build some personal security.
I don’t have much of a social life right now. When I’m in a mental state to produce, I get quite stressed when I have to attend a party or otherwise disrupt my productive work to “hang out”. I have friends though and I get to spend some time with them. Usually it’s when we cross paths on our work travel or volunteer activities.
I'm pretty happy with my situation and have a lot of satisfaction from my work. Some of the things that I like the most:
1. I don't have to ask anyone for permission for anything. If I want to do something, I go and do it.
2. I don't have constant reminders about my low place in the organization's hierarchy. My customers and I enter into a business transaction as peers. This mutual respect is very important to me.
3. I have absolute control over my work. I like the freedom to pursue my product's vision without having to stop and justify it to others.
4. I like succeeding at business development. I’ve met a lot of “pure business” people who would like me to believe there’s something special to what they do. There isn’t. As a programmer, I find this very empowering.
5. I also like succeeding without investors. I started my entrepreneurial journey on HN and for a time believed I needed someone else's blessing to succeed. While I have friends who have done well with investors, I like knowing that my two hands made something from nothing and got me here.
If I might ask, what kind of enterprise software can generate that much profit from a one-man shop?
Why do you work alone? You can definitely afford an employee now.
Those who know my situation ask this. Right now, I'm able to manage the business side without too much trouble. I like building the technology and working with my customers.
If I "grow" my business, my role will change, and I have little interest in this.
this video is accurate except im talking to customers.