It’s been almost 6 months since I quit my job – time for a more detailed post about what I’ve been up to since then.
When I left Google in October last year to start something of my own, I didn’t have a clear plan of what exactly I actually wanted to do: I didn’t know if I wanted to work as a solo-entrepreneur or with other people. I didn’t know any potential co-founders and I didn’t know where I would find them or what qualities to look for in them. I didn’t know if I should start a lifestyle business or raise venture capital. I didn’t know how much I would have to make for a lifestyle business to be sustainable and I didn’t know how to raise money. I didn’t know how to build a product nor a company. And this is exactly why I wanted to give it a try.
Pieter Levels posted a good tweet storm recently about the right time to quit your job. While I generally agree with Pieter’s conclusion that you shouldn’t rush into it, I also know a lot of people (including myself) who don’t have the necessary time or dedication to get their side projects to that revenue point where you can easily make the switch. I know that I would have probably used this as yet another excuse to go all-in. Instead, I decided to save up enough to be able to survive for about 18 months. If you live a minimalistic lifestyle and take advantage of geographic arbitrage those savings don’t have to be as high as most people think.
I had an idea for a product for quite some time, so I decided to just start building that and see what would happen along the way. I had built websites in the past and did some coding courses, but never actually designed and built a software product from scratch, so this was also a good way to learn how to code and find out where my boundaries were.
Over the past couple of months I hacked together a little app called monote, which lets you bookmark and organize products you find on the web. I will follow-up a separate blog post with more details about the product and my motivation behind it. While building monote I lived in a bunch of different cities, switched co-working spaces often to meet different people and reached out to a bunch of entrepreneurs and investors to seek advice.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1/ I’m not solo-entrepreneur
I do like working on my own – but I just enjoy working with other people a lot more (co-working spaces and online communities like WIP help, but are not the same). Also, being a solo-founder severely limits the complexity of the products you can build.
2/ Digital nomadism is not for me
I love traveling and working remotely, but I found that I’m a lot more productive when I’m in familiar surroundings.
3/ Be as transparent as possible & build your product in public
This is probably the biggest mistake I made. Instead of sharing my ideas and getting people’s feedback, I spent way too much time working behind closed doors worrying what others might think. I should have written a post about my idea on the day I quit my previous job and publicly share every step of the process of building my product.
4/ Receiving feedback is hard
I’m still trying to figure out what the best way to filter feedback is. You should to take feedback seriously, but you shouldn’t take it too close to heart either.
5/ Failing is good and opens up new opportunities
< Insert witty the-journey-is-the-destination-quote here >
So what’s next for me?
I’m aiming to launch monote this week to get some more engagement and retention data. At this point and in its current form I would expect monote to stay more of a side project rather than a company I work on full-time. I’m also super excited to announce that I’ll be joining Entrepreneur First’s first Berlin cohort to find a co-founder and start an actual company.
I’ve learned a lot in the past 6 months and found answers to some of the questions I had back when I started. Let’s see how many more questions I can answer in the next 3 months.