Turning Side Projects into Profitable Startups

(clapping) I’ve done a lot of building
startups and side projects in the last four years. They’re mostly bootstrapped,
and bootstrapped means that you build a business
without any funding. So you don’t go to San Francisco. You don’t get venture capital from big, old, fat, rich
white guys, no offense. And you just do it yourself
with your own skills, and that’s very fascinating for me ’cause it’s like a new
way to build startups. It’s finally made possible because technology’s kinda cheap now. It’s almost free to build
things on the internet. And it’s also exciting,
because a lot of you guys here, and girl, and whatever, you
guys wanna build things. You might have a job now, a remote job, but you might wanna have
your own little side project. Make some money, or that maybe
becomes a real startup later, and so maybe that’s
relevant for your guys. So thanks for coming,
thanks for listening. I would like to start with my own story. Four years ago, I was in Holland, and I just graduated from University. I studied business,
and I was really bored, ’cause all my friends got corporate jobs, and I had a YouTube channel
for electronic music, and I was making like $2,000 a month, $3,000 a month, so a lot
of money for a student for just a graduate,
so I was really happy, but I was sitting at
home at my desk making these YouTube videos, and I
loved the music and stuff, and I loved doing it,
but it was really boring being at home all the time. So my friend said, “Why
don’t you buy a laptop “and just try and do this on a laptop, “and then you can maybe
travel a little bit.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll do that.” So, I sold all my stuff, similar
story, maybe, to you guys. You sold all your stuff,
stuff you were renting, and you just flew to Asia
or South America, whatever, and you went traveling for a
little bit with your laptop. I did this. I was all over Asia, and the problem was, my YouTube, meanwhile, was going bankrupt. It was $3,000, $2,000, but then suddenly, it was $900 and then $700, and then $500. I was like, fuck, I
need to make some money, or I’m not gonna be
able to pay this travel, and just my rent and stuff, and also, I was getting fucking depressed. I’d been nomading and
then I came back home to my parents’ house. I was sitting there in
this cold, Dutch winter, and I just wanted to die,
and I got really big anxiety and depression and panic
attacks for the first time ever in my life, ’cause my life
was going fucking bad, so I needed to figure out something to do. So I knew, like my dad always
says, “If you’re depressed, “you need to order one
cubic meter of sand, “and get a shovel, and
just start shoveling, “one to the other.” And you do something, and
you get less depressed. And so I was like, okay,
I’ll do it digitally. I’ll just do 12 projects in 12 months, and I called it 12
Startup for Fun, you know? It wasn’t really startups,
but I’ll just do it. And I started building
these little projects. I took one month for each,
and I had something to do. I had focus. Still wasn’t making money, but whatever. The first one was, my friends and me, we would always send each
other music over E-mail, so I made this little app
that would playlist it, and you could list all the
music we sent to each other back when we didn’t
really have chat apps yet, so, now, nobody use E-mail anymore. Anyway, this didn’t make any
money, but it was really fun, and I launched it. I made an animated .gif
books, or .gif book, however you wanna pronounce it, so I got a supplier in Malaysia. He could print flip books,
and then I would send the animated .gifs to him, the frames, and we would order it. Everybody loved it, but the
margin was literally like two or 3%, so it was
hardly making any money. I think I was losing money after tax. It was total bullshit,
but it was really fun. Then, this was the first
one that went really viral. It’s Go Fucking Do It, so
you could enter a goal. You could add a deadline. Like, I wanna quit smoking. I want January 2018. You set a price, and you
enter your credit card details with Stripe, and on the
day, on the deadline, your friend gets an E-mail, and it asks, “Hey, did Pieter really quit
smoking on January or not?” and if the friend said no, your credit card would get
charged with $50, $100, and the money would go to me, (laughing) and this was the first one that
was starting to make money. So, I was going from my YouTube
crashing to $200 a month. Suddenly I was making $500
a month again with this, so now I was up at about $700 a month, so I could live again,
so this was kinda nice. Still wasn’t a lot of money, but okay. And then the press
started getting involved. So, my friend made this
kinda funny picture of me, really pretentious, but whatever. It worked, ’cause the press
started biting on this project of 12 Startups in 12 Months,
and everybody started writing about it like The Next Web, Tech in Asia, and suddenly, like thousands
of people started E-mailing me and following me on Twitter and stuff, and something was started to happen, so I cracked this little
marketing thing accidentally with this 12 Startups thing. Meanwhile, I had to keep
continuing building more products, so one product I built was
a spreadsheet of cities. So I was in Chiang Mai,
and Bangkok, and Singapore, and Hong Kong, and Tokyo, whatever, but I wanted to find places
where the internet was good, where it was kinda warm,
like 26 degrees Celsius, and it wasn’t super expensive to live, ’cause, you know, I had $700 a month. So I was like, okay,
let’s make a spreadsheet, and I published it on
Twitter, but I forgot to, well, actually, the first time, it leaked, and I forgot to remove the edits thing, so actually, people were
starting to edit it, and I was like, just share it on Twitter, and it went viral, and hundreds of people, maybe I think a thousand people started adding data to it,
and then we had 75 cities with all the costs of living
and fast internet and stuff, and all these nomad
hotspots, so then I made it into a website, and I launched the website to Hacker News and it went number one. I launched to Product Hunt, it went number one, and just started going viral. And it was 2014, August
or something at the time. The new nomads wave, I
think, after 2007 started, and it was kind of a nomad list as well. I grew Nomad List into
this big fucking website with loads of data. It’s 1,250 cities, now
250,000 data points. It’s all crowd-sourced,
and it makes money. It makes $15,000 to $25,000 a month in membership fees and stuff, so that’s a far reach from
the $700 I was living on, but this took, obviously, years to build, but at least this one actually stuck. One of those projects stuck, which is kinda the philosophy I do now. It’s like shotgun. You shoot a lot of projects
and see which sticks. I bootstrapped Remote OK
from Nomad List success. It’s like a remote job
website, which is now, also, since December, the number
one remote job website in the world with almost
a million monthly visits, so that’s really cool, and it
makes about $10,000 a month. I also made Hood Maps recently. This is Canggu, so it’s
a map where everybody can cross-source tech,
kinda like Wikipedia tech, things they think about a place. They can color it based on
if it’s hipster or rich, so you kinda know where to go in a city. So this is Canggu. So where? It’s a nomad mecca. Deus’ hipster mecca, and the ocean is full of hot surfer boys and girls. So anyway, while building
all these projects, there was one framework and
pattern that kept happening, which was like, you have an
idea, or I would have a problem and make it into an idea. I would build it, I would
launch it, I would grow it, and then I would monetize
it to make money from it, and then, if I got really
annoyed with working on it, I would automate it with robots, so today, I wanna tell you about
all these processes. And importantly, there’s no VCs involved. No venture capital, just self-funded. So let’s start with idea. A lot of you have already
startup or app ideas and a lot of them are good. A lot of them are really
bad, and I think the bad ones are pretty much bad
because they’re not focused on a problem. I hear constantly, let’s make
another food delivery app or another fashion clothes
delivery app or whatever, but they’re not really
problems that you wanna solve, so my thing is like, I try
to look at my own life, and what am I really annoyed with? What is in my daily life,
something I can work on, information that’s missing or whatever. With Nomad List, I wanted
to know new cities, where I could go. With Hood Maps, I was lost
in these tourist centers of big cities, and I was like, “Fuck, I wanna see the real city.” So I built Hood Maps, for example. So I was always trying to find
problems and then to solve, and I think that’s the way to do. And the reason that’s cool,
because when you have a problem you solve, you’re
actually, you’re the expert at your own problems,
so, this is an expert, and it’s a competitive advantage, because let’s say you’re a gardener. You know very well about the
problems that gardeners have about flowers and plants and stuff, and nobody else knows that,
or only other gardeners, so you have a little niche
there that’s competitive, that’s good. The problem is, we’re all very similar. Look at us. A lot of guys here beards and short hair and trimmed on the sides
like me, so it’s bullshit. That means that we all
start getting the same ideas ’cause we all have the same problems. So you wanna become
less homogenous, right? So how do you do that? Well, you have to start doing crazy shit. So you have to, I don’t
know, go sky diving or you go trek to the
jungle for six months alone without any phone, or
just do some original stuff. Go do orgies or whatever. Find new subcultures to go into. Fringe subcultures are really
good, because when it’s taboo, nobody else is doing it yet, so it’s competitive advantage again, and you might find some
business or app idea or service idea, whatever, in there, but you have to become
original, ’cause otherwise, you’re making the same shit
everybody else is making, and that’s not gonna make you money. What I see a lot is a big fault, too. People think really big with
ideas, so they start with, I wanna build a space company, but that’s bullshit because you’re nobody, so it doesn’t go as fast as that. You have to start with
something very small. So, if you look at Elon
Musk, he started with PayPal which was a payment app for
Palm Pilots, old smartphones. That became big, and he sold
it with a lot of other people, and then, in the end, after 20 years, he’s finally building a space company. So start slowly. Build something small, fix
a small niche problem first. Make some money and
keep growing the niche, and keep growing bigger. With Nomad List now, it
was focused on nomads, but now I’m going bigger. I wanna go into the whole travel market, which is about 10 or 100
times as big as Nomads, so grow a niche instead
of starting big, you know? Start small, it’s better. And a niche is really
cool, because if you have, let’s say, $100 products, you only need 10,000 people
for one million dollars. I was shocked. Is that accurate? Yeah, it is accurate,
it’s one million dollars. So you don’t need a lot of, and you can take a picture if you want. You don’t need a lot of customers to make one million dollars. You just need a small niche of people. Everybody took the picture? Yeah? Nice, flash doesn’t gonna help. Okay, so you can also make an idea list. That’s what I did too. Every time I have an idea, I
write it in a concepts list. This is all bullshit ideas, but whatever. And I’d see which ones are promising and which keep coming back to me, and then I might start building them. And it’s good to just track this. Do it in WorkFlowy or Trello or whatever, to-do post-its or whatever. Write it down because you
might need the idea later. I think a lot of the
remote work ideas I had, they came months before
I actually did them, so it takes a long time
to boil in your head. Also, I would definitely,
definitely super advise, and this is very contradictory advice from what most people say. Do it yourself. Don’t work with other people. You don’t need a technical co-founder if you’re a business person. Just learn the codes. Just do it yourself and
learn to design or whatever. Do the basics yourself, because it will save you so much time. And Groupthink. Groupthink is very dangerous. If you have two or
three people in a group, you’re building a startup,
I’ve seen it myself. People sort of hyping each other, like, “Wow, this dog food delivery
idea is really gonna change the whole fucking ecosystem of the world.” It’s just not true. It’s just you’re hyping each other. And if you’re alone,
you cover your hype up, ’cause you’re mostly insecure, right? And being alone is kinda
good, because, yeah, it will help you ship faster and better. A lot of people are like,
“Okay, I’m working on a startup, “but I can’t really tell you because we’re “in stealth mode, and I won’t share “that idea ’cause otherwise,
somebody steals it,” which is more bullshit. Nobody’s gonna steal your idea. It’s all about execution. Everybody has the same ideas anyway. The execution makes it
original and unique, so, actually, sharing your idea is good ’cause you can talk to
people, you can talk to maybe potential customers already before you actually build something, so be happy with sharing your idea. Yeah, and this is the end
of the first idea part. Do you have any questions? ‘Cause I don’t wanna do
questions at the end, ’cause it’s a little too messy, so maybe. You have questions now
about how to get ideas? Anybody? No, okay. So, if you have an idea,
you finally got it, you wanna build it, so how
do you start building it? Well, a lot of people, they
need to learn the codes and they need to go to coding boot camps or code academies or whatever,
and I would definitely not recommend that, ’cause it’s
gonna take months or years, and I don’t really think
it’s a good way to code. I think it’s a little bit of a scam. I think you should learn to code yourself. I think you should just open Google and write how to make a website. And that’s how I learned it. That’s how most successful
people around me learned it, and the thing is, the
biggest thing in coding and in business you can learn, is learning how to learn and learning how to figure things out for yourself. That’s very practical
knowledge, and that’s super, super important in entrepreneurship, just practically knowing how to do things, and not calling somebody,
like, “Hey, how do I do this?” or not finding a book
or something about it. Just do it yourself. Why not? All the information is
now on the internet. It’s on YouTube, it’s on Stack
Overflow, it’s on Google, so you can easily find for yourself. And that’s, again, it’s
the most important skill you can have. Learn to learn. If you really are stubborn
and you’re just like, no, Pieter, I’m not gonna learn to code, go fuck yourself, go on Typeform. Typeform.com is a site
where you can make a form, and you can even accept payments, and you don’t need to do any codes, and you can actually build
a little mini-startup just with a form. Like here, you can enter your credit card, and then you can actually pay. You can accept payments
with Stripe and stuff. Another cool app is called Carrd. It’s C-A-R-R-D.co. It’s built by my friend
AJ, and it’s super amazing. It lets people without code
build really advanced websites. I built this yesterday. It’s a luggage pickup
service, and I just build a whole landing page out of nothing, and then if people schedule a pickup, it gets sent to Zapier. It’s API website, and the
luggage gets picked up. Not really, but I could do it if I want. Me too, I started with a spreadsheet. Normally, this was a spreadsheet. I wasn’t a good coder. I could make WordPress
themes for a little bit, but I wasn’t really good at it, so I learned just in time with Google. I learned something when
I needed to learn it. When the problem happened, I would go on Google and just
find it and figure it out, and because the only other
option of not learning it was my entire startup failing,
it’s a very nice constraint to, you really need to learn
how to make the button align with the logo because
everybody thinks it’s ugly. No, that’s a good reason to go learn. Also, I see a lot of people, they build startups for years or months. Like, “Yeah, I’ve been working
on this thing for six months. “We have no customers, “and the design is perfect and beautiful.” That just doesn’t work. I would say, max one
month for a prototype. It has to be a good prototype, though, but don’t spend too much
time working on something because you need to
validate with launching. That’s very important. Questions? Not yet, okay. Well, then, everything’s
clear, so it’s good. Okay, launching, very important. So you built some things, and now you wanna actually get users, and I think this is the most
important step in any startup because it validates if the product is actually useful or not, and
can be monetized and stuff. So, very big platforms
for launching startups. Product Hunt, of course,
one of the biggest. It’ll get you about 10,000
users, 10,000 visits. I think about 10% maybe
convert or something or less. Tips for Product Hunt, make sure just the whole
item looks really good. Add some animated .gif. Make a really good slogan. Ask your friends and
stuff about the slogan for your startup. A lot of the startup slogans
are just super obtruse, and I don’t know what they actually mean. So, make it very simple. Very important for Product Hunt. Product Hunt works in San Francisco time, so the time’s on Pacific Standard Time, which means that you might have to stay up until midnight San Francisco time, and then you need to submit your product. Because otherwise, if you submit at like, I don’t know, Bali time 4 p.m., it might be 1 p.m. San
Francisco or something, anyway, a little bit too late to
compete with other startups on Product Hunt for that
day, and you wanna be high on the ranking. It’s very important. Also, jump on the comments
when you’re on Product Hunt. You know, talk with people. Don’t be marketing,
just be honest and say, if this bugs or whatever, fix them immediately and be friendly. Be a human. It’s very important. Hacker News is another one. Hacker News is very critical. They can destroy your whole
startup with their comments. Here it’s even more important. Don’t do marketing stuff. Be as frank and honest
and personal as you can. If you build a food
delivery app, whatever, say, show HN, “I built
a food delivery app.” And then say something unique or whatever. Make it original, but make it friendly. No spamming. Don’t use voting rings and stuff. No bolts, all that bullshit. It’s only gonna go down, you know? They’ll see it. Reddit is very, very gigantic big. It’s about 100 times big
than the sites before, Hacker News and Product Hunt. Reddit is the mainstream
launching platform right now, I think it’s becoming very quickly. Reddit, again, also, they don’t like spam. They don’t like marketing. They will remove your
listing very quickly. Important think about
Reddit is you wanna submit to subreddits, so if you doing
an app for horse management, you might wanna go in slash R slash horse, and you wanna be very friendly. You wanna say, “Hey guys, I
made this app about horses. “How to manage them. “Would you give feedback on it?” And then if it gets up-voted,
people will like it, it will actually, that’s
a very good chance to go to the front page. I did it twice. I did it with Nomad List. I did it with Hood Maps. The problem is, when you
go to the front page, when you get about page two
or three, your server will die because it can’t handle traffic. It’s like literally thousands
of people in the same second, so you wanna make sure
that your site stays up so, technical term, but make it static. Make it in XHTML instead of PHP or JS. Just make it static so it actually runs. Load test it before,
’cause a lot of people just don’t get onto the front
page when they might have if their server stayed up. And this, again, hundreds of thousands of users you’ll get from
this, 400,000, maybe, half a million, it’s crazy. Horse Forum, it’s very important. (laughing) You’re like, “What the fuck
is this site doing here?” No, it’s very important. So, if you make this horse management app, you wanna also go in your niche. So you wanna find websites
specifically for your niche. In this case, horses,
and you submit it there. Same story, make it personal. This is actually users that
might convert the highest, because it’s very relevant to them. They have horse stables or
whatever, and they need your app, so publish here. Bodybuilding, another one,
if you do a bodybuilding app, and yeah, this is subreddit motorcycles if you make a motorcycle app, whatever. Questions about launching? Yeah. – Sorry, need you to
talk in this microphone. – I was just gonna ask,
do you have any procedure that you go through when
you do a new startup, or you just jump right into it? Like, are you doing a
competitor analysis or? – Yeah, good question. I sometimes do competitive analysis. Like I check if the app already exists, but the thing is, the fact
that an app already exists doesn’t mean you can’t
add to the market, right? So many times, when an app doesn’t exist, is you wanna build, it means
there is no market for it. So usually, there is an
app that already exists, but it’s shit, and it
doesn’t have a lot of users, and it’s just broken and ugly, whatever, so you can just make a better one. That’s what I did a lot of times. There’s a lot of competitors
of mine who were just, their site was just unusable, but they were big sites before, but yeah, so it’s easy to, not even take them over, but just like, yeah
you’ll get more traffic, but yeah, I will usually
dive right into it, and I’m a little bit arrogant and naive, so I’m like, oh, I can do this better. Fuck this, I’ll just do it, and sometimes, usually it doesn’t work out. (laughing) But mostly, one out of 10 times it does, and then you made something that’s better. So being a little bit arrogant
about it works, I think. – I mean like, do you
have a checklist, I guess, of a lot of things that
you would go through? – Yeah, so I’ll try and launch, so he asked, do I have checklist? Things I go through during launch? I will try and do Product
Hunt, Reddit, Hacker News, all those websites on the same day, ’cause you kinda want a constant traffic, ’cause then it’s like, oh
my God, this whole day’s about your startup and
everybody’s talking about it, and it has this giant
effect, like exponential, but the checklist is pretty much, yeah, it’s kinda Tweet about it, share it on
Facebook, then submit it. Yeah. Just, it’s pretty obvious, I think, yeah. Sure. Other questions about launching? No, cool. So, when you’ve launched,
of course you need to check your analytics,
like if it actually worked. If, you know, usually you see a drop off. You see a spike of
traffic when it launches, then it goes down and down and down, which is very normal. Doesn’t mean your site is not validated, but if and when, in a week,
literally everybody’s gone, then you might think that
maybe it’s not successful. So you wanna try, maybe,
don’t stop, but whatever. You wanna try and grow. If actually the traffic’s still there, you wanna try and grow it, and what I really hate
these days (laughing) and it’s also of events in
Dojo, is there’s a lot of talk about non-organic growth, and
I think just doesn’t work. There’s a lot of talk
about Instagram bots. I tried them too, last week. Didn’t work. There’s a Twitter
follow/unfollow bots, like bots, spamming by an E-mail list,
all this fucking dodgy, shady gray stuff, or black hat stuff, and I hate it so much that every time. In Dojo, I think every week
I’ll be in some heavy discussion or at some coffee shop with somebody. What you’re doing is not good. Don’t do it. But, I don’t wanna be moral night, so I should shut up as
well, but the thing is, this is how non-organic growth looks. It’s a very ugly cow. It’s not good. And look how beautiful the next cow looks. Look, aww. This is organic growth, which means people actually really like your website. They’re not there because
of bots, or ads as well. Ads are ethical, but I don’t like ads. Like who of us has ad-blockers? See? So why do we have ad-blockers
but we’re still buying ads at Facebook and Google? It’s kinda morally ridiculous. I don’t believe that
ads will be the future, so all the ads, they give you, let’s say they give you a spike
of 10,000 users and signups, but when you stop buying these ads, usually it slowly just fades out. And I see it a lot with
venture capital-based startups, and I think venture capital-based startups are a lot like this, ’cause
it’s all fake growth. It’s all a bold growth or paid traffic, and I don’t really think it works. It stops working when
the money stops, right? Then you usually just fall off. And then you didn’t really
actually build something useful. Organic growth is much cooler, because it’s much more hard to get, but when you get it, it means
you validated the product you built, so you actually
have people using it, and actually people loving it. And if you don’t get traffic, it means your product’s
just not good enough. So it’s the ultimate test of,
is my product good or not? Should I tweak it, should
I build another product, a new thing, whatever, to have organic. And if you have all this
paid traffic in there, okay, it’s kinda hard to see if people actually
really like your product, or if it’s just paid traffic. Very important, what I do,
to kinda get this growing. I wanna build with my users. So every site or every app I have has this little feedback box,
and it just sounds like, “Hey do you have feedback? “Tell me. “Be nice.” Cause people can be really
angry in this feedback box, so I had to ask, be nice, and
now they’re really nice to me, so it actually worked. (laughing) If this box, like this,
the images are not loading, you can write, “Hey
your images are broken.” But also, there’s a lot
of feature requests. Every week, I’ll add a feature,
or I’ll change a feature somebody just says is wrong. This week, I think I moved
the search box on Nomad List to the right because
somebody said it looked ugly, so, yeah, and then they’re
happy and they’re involved in the process, so building. I think it’s called co-creating. Building with users is
amazing, because they become, what is it called? Ambassadors. Wow, you’re British. Ambassadors of your products, so they will tell, “Hey,
I sent Pieter this message “about the search box, and
he actually changed it. “I love it. “You should use Nomad List, too.” So, it’s very positive effect you have, and users are really smart. You shouldn’t always listen
to everything they say, but you should definitely consider it, what they’re saying. A more beautiful feedback box, of course, Intercom, used by most startups. This works as well. It works very well. It’s paid, though, so a little annoying. Very important to add
on your website or app is some kinda thing so you
can re-engage users later. So you launch with 10,000
users on Hacker News or Product Hunt, but then after that day, those 10,000 people are gone. So how do you contact them again? So you wanna re-engage. So, capture their E-mail
with, I don’t know, somewhere like this, send me a message when you have special food discounts in my area, or whatever. What I did with Remote OK
was, the remote jobs website, I would have daily job alerts
that people can subscribe to. Nomad List has a newsletter,
so that kinda stuff. So you can E-mail people later. Don’t spam people, you know? Again, just be sparing using
these E-mail addresses, ’cause you guys know how annoying it is to have annoying E-mails flooding your inbox. Very important and very trendy, and if you do this, you will be so far ahead of everybody else. Build your startup in public. So this guy is a friend of mine, kinda friend, acquaintance,
not really acquaintance. Hardly know. (laughing) But, it’s Drew Wilson who once Tweeted. Drew Wilson, he’s really
cool, and he built Plasso, this payment startup, but he
build a lot of it in public, and he just live streams. So he’s just sitting there. It’s a little boring, but also kinda fun, because he plays music and stuff, and you can see his code,
so you can see the product being built right there in front of you, and that’s super cool. And the cool thing is,
nobody else is doing that. I did it with Hood Maps. I hardly know anybody who’s doing it, and it gives you so much
attention and press, so definitely try this. Yeah, takes guts, but also streaming, it makes you very productive. 100 people were watching me,
and I never coded as fast, ’cause I was just so nervous
and stuff, so it works. Another one to keep growing
is to keep launching, so don’t launch your startup once. Launch a feature as well, and
launch to the press again, and just keep doing it
every two or three months. You wanna keep getting into the press and keep getting into these websites. I don’t think you can launch it in Product Hunt every two months, but you can launch every year. Every big version number you have, or every change you do,
you can launch again, and that’s very important, ’cause you wanna stay in people’s minds. So, any questions about launching? You look like you had a question. No, okay. No, okay, cool. So, the most, well, not. I keep saying, “The most important part.” That’s bullshit. I can’t keep saying that, but
this is very important too. Monetizing. You aren’t running a charity,
you’re running a business. If people won’t give you
money for your product, you have an existential
crisis on your hands, and that’s very important. And I see so many startups
just don’t make money, and it’s like, how do you pay your rent? Just, I don’t know. And (laughing) and that’s
just not the way to do it. It’s very important to make money, because you need to pay your bills, and I would say within three months, I would say within two months, maybe, get the first dollar in. Maybe even during launch
day, get the dollars running, ’cause otherwise, again,
you didn’t validate. You made a nice startup,
but it’s not making money, so it’s not really validated as a product, and that’s a big problem. Focus on money, and focusing
money is very difficult for us. I’m Dutch, so especially for Dutch people, they’re traders historically, but they’re very weird about money. You’re not really allowed to make money. This is a typical, I wrote it myself, but this typical example
E-mail of the stuff I would get when I started charging money. So, I’ll read for you. This is an E-mail by grumpycat2019. Okay, I can’t believe what just happened. So anyway, I was feeding my cat, and then I was trying to find an app so I can schedule my social media post. I really put too much
time into scheduling, so I need this app. So I found this app called
Media Scheduler 2000. Okay, so I sign up, and what the hell? I have to pay $25 a month for it? Who does the maker of this app think? What a capitalist. He’s just making easy money
off the back of others. This should be free. It’s always these big
companies trying to make money off the little people. Even Gmail’s free. Don’t support this app. The maker’s evil, one one. But really, this is a
typical E-mail I get. It’s absolutely ridiculous. They think you’re a big
company, but you’re just you and your laptop and you’re
trying to just pay your bills and buy a coffee, and this is so, this happens so much,
especially in Reddit. Like people really hate when
you charge money for something, but you should charge money for something, and just ignore these people. And there’s always a free alternative of your app that’s worse, but yeah, you’re not competing with them. You’re competing in the premium with actually charging money. A very good example of
how to charge and validate at the same time is Buffer, and they pioneered this whole thing. They didn’t even launch a product yet, but they just put up a landing page with a plans and pricing button, and if you clicked it, this
is social media scheduling as well, you would get an E-mail box, and you could sign to get updated if the app actually launched. And this was amazing,
’cause this is literally just validating how many
people will click on this? How many people add their E-mail? Okay, so now we have a
list of 10,000 people that might actually wanna pay for it, because they clicked pricing, so they actually wanna maybe pay for it. I did this idea even
worse, or even bigger. I made a whole payment
button with a fake Stripe box where you enter your credit cards for a feature you wanna
use, and then after paying, they wouldn’t be actually be paying. I said, you didn’t actually pay. This was a fake Stripe
payment box, but now I know that you would pay if I
built the actual feature. But I didn’t actually
build the feature yet. So, that’s again, validating
a feature before you build it, if actually people pay for it. So yeah, but buy buttons on everything. This is the most important
slide of my presentation. You wanna check what people
pay for in your product, so every feature, put a pay
ball on it to see what happens, and then start, if nobody
pays for it, make it free, but yeah, limit your app as well. See what people pay for again. Super important. A few business models
here that you can apply. A lot of websites you know and startups, they don’t actually make
money off their main product. They make money off their
by-line product, kind of, their main product. So this is Nomad List. This website doesn’t make any money. This is all free data. You can filter cities in the whole world. Nobody pays money for this, but
this is like a social media, or like a social network for travelers, which also Nomad List, which
7,000 people pay money for. Dribble. You guys, a lot of
designers here know Dribble? A design website. It’s free to post your designs on Dribble, and nobody pays money for
this, but there’s a job site that business people business
pay for to post jobs, and they pay a lot for it. I think $299 for 30 days, yeah. So you can use your main site to be free, like Freemium, and then have side things. Also, sponsorships are good. When I launched Nomad
List, I got an E-mail within the first day by Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress,
who had liked the website, and he said, “Can we sponsor it?” And I was like, “Sure,
I’ll add a little banner,” and then automatic, WordPress are hiring, and he paid me a few thousand
dollars a month for it, and it still pays, so yeah, that’s a very good sponsorship
model you can do as well. It’s just, it’s very
hard to get sponsorships. Going outbound, like E-mailing companies for it is very hard. You wanna be so cool as a product, maybe, and be lucky to, a cool
company wants to help you and provide you, so you can
keep developing on the website. And this money helped a lot,
because in the beginning, I wasn’t making a lot of money, so it has helped me continue
developing the website. A more cool modern model
that you might now is Patreon where you just simply ask
your users to pay money, not even for a specific feature, but just for supporting you as a maker, and I just saw this week on Twitter, a guy called Sindre Sorhus, who does a lot of open source development,
he just asked like, “Hey, do you wanna give me money “for my open source
work the last few years? “I’ve been working for free.” And I think he got a few thousand dollars. This is my friends abroad in Japan, a Japanese YouTuber, British guy in Japan, and he makes $3,000 a month
from 800 people paying him a few dollars a month, and it’s
actually a sustainable model to make money these days, and why not? Overcast, a podcast app for
iOS, does the same thing. They don’t have premium features anymore. They just have a Patreon part where you can literally just say, “Okay, I’ll pay $12
’cause I love the app.” And you don’t even get anything. You just, you’re a supporter,
and I think 400 people a day, or something, they’re Patreons,
so it’s a lot of money. Very important about monetization. You know, I see a lot of
people, I did the same thing. I see a lot of people charge
$50 once to unlock a feature or use your product, but
it’s not recurring revenue, and recurring revenue is quite important, because, as you can see in this chart, if you have a single payment
of $75 and the company, you can’t see it, but it says
sales growth by 25% a year, which is kinda okay growth, you know, year one, you make $75,000 on both. In year five, when you have
a single payment by a user, you make $183,000, and
with a subscription, you make almost $2,000,000 a year, because subscriptions keep
going, and they keep growing with more and more subscriptions, so it’s exponential kinda growth, and it’s just a lot of money. And of course, you’ll have churn, too. You’ll have people canceling
your subscriptions, but still, in the end,
it’s kinda positive. Only thing is, subscriptions
are annoying for users. I hate getting another bill
of some service I signed up a few years ago, like fuck,
I was still paying for that. I don’t even use it. That might be annoying. Any questions about growing? No. Cool, okay, so, this is
a also really cool part. Automating. So if you have this whole
business running now, you make money, and you kinda, you kinda get sick of the business. Like, I get sick of startups after one or two years or whatever. I like doing new stuff. I hate doing the same shit
all over, over and over again. So you can get robots to work for you. You can hire people, but
humans are difficult. Robots are much easier and
more efficient, I think. So automating. So this is my server right now. I made a screenshot a few hours ago. In the top, you can see, it’s blocked, but it’s 187 robots are running now. That’s parallel processes, and they’re doing something for my site. They’re getting the weather
for the cities on Nomad List. They’re getting job posts for Remote OK. They’re processing refunds for users. Both sites are 100% automated, and these robots keep everything running. This is my scheduled
cron jobs, which means, it’s tech lingo for scheduled
programs, these robots. All these things are things
that I need to do hourly or daily or weekly. This is my whole business,
is all these lines. This is all the robots running everything, and for me, it’s really cool. It just looks really cool
that I have this server somewhere in San Francisco, and
it just does all this stuff. And I have anywhere from
180 to 700 robots running, working for me 24/7, and they
can scale up and scale down whenever they want. When they need more people,
they just hire more people. Within seconds, more robots. It’s just, the magnitude of this is like, it’s hard to explain, but it’s, it means that you can
run entire businesses now with robots, with scripts
doing stuff for you, and this means that you can hire people, but then you can’t really fire them, ’cause it’s hard with labor laws. Humans get sick, all this stuff. And I know it sucks,
but this is the reality. Robots are, to be honest,
just more efficient at a lot of stuff. This, for example, how to monitor robots. So what’s the role for the human then, left in his little black
box of a business you built? Well, I think it’s very
important to have one human hired full time to manage all these robots when you’ve automated
everything, so they can check if your server’s down or not. Otherwise, you’re still 24/7
working on this business. I’ve woken up so many times, it’s 4 a.m., just check my website, and it’s down, and then I have to do all this stuff, and then I’m awake for three hours ’cause the server crashed. You wanna have a guy or girl or whatever on there, on standby. Get alerts when a server’s
down and when the robots are not doing their work. Yeah, exit is very important. I’ve never done it, but
selling your business. I’ve got proposals to sell my business, but I’m not happy yet with the price. Very important to just
finally get on with it and start living I guess. The price of an exit is
usually something like this. So, let’s say you have 25% growth. You have $100,000. Usually you can ask $500,000. If you have higher growth, you can ask even a million dollars for $100,000 a year business. Yeah, this is very important. So that’s why you see all these startups. They think about their
growth rates so much, ’cause they want the growth
rate for the selling price. It’s very important. I think I would sell for something like four or five revenue
multiple or something, ’cause my growth rate is okay. It’s kinda stable. It’s slowly growing. And also, there’s a lot
of psychological things with selling, like if you
wanna sell your company, maybe. You know, your company’s your baby. Like, Nomad List is my baby. If I sell, maybe I get depressed,
so think about that stuff. See, that’s the whole loop. So you have an idea. You solve your own problem. You build it. Then you launch it. You grow it organically, very important. That’s my opinion. Monetize it, automate it, exit. And then you do it again. And this is like a little
ecosystem and pattern I found after a few years. So, yeah. Thanks for listening. (clapping) So do you have any questions now? – Did you finish the 12
startups in the year? – What? – Were you man– – No, I didn’t. No, I did about seven. Because Nomad List was taking off, and I had a decision. I could either continue,
finishing startups, which is very important for me, or I could do Nomad List and make it big, and I think if I would have
continued making new projects every month for another five times, then I’m afraid Nomad
List wouldn’t be big. It would have just, ’cause it took like hardcore effort to keep this growth going, and I had to keep adding features, and I think otherwise,
it would be a passe, one-day fly thing, so
unfortunately I didn’t finish, but I’m still thinking, today
I was checking the black ball, it was like 2014, and I thought, it’d be cool to do those five
at some point in five months, but, yeah, just to resolve
it for myself spiritually. – How do you deal with
all the legal stuff? Where do you set your companies
up and taxes and, yeah. How do you deal with all that? Like when you’re setting
up loads of new companies all the time as well. – Yeah, good question. So, what you can do, you
can have one company, the holding company, and
actually everything you do is just a project. So it’s called a startup,
called a business, but you can just do it in-house. And you can even spin things off, and I think it’s, fiscally,
in some countries, more beneficial to do
the separate entities, but in a case of Holland,
it’s really annoying to start a LLC or (speaking in
foreign language) we call it. It costs like $5,000 in bookkeeping fees, so I was just like, “Okay, I’ll just do it “on my own in my own little company,” so I just have one company and that’s it, and that’s what I have everything in. So it works fine, and it kinda is like, it works with my lean, simple approach. I don’t like spending too much time in all this difficult
stuff, tax stuff, fiscals. I want it to be legal, but that’s it. But I think even if you have a company, you can spin off parts of
it legally, so why not? Yeah. – Are you the only one adding features, or do you have people for that? How do you handle that? – No, it’s just me. All the websites. Just me, yeah. So, it’s a lot of work, but, then again, it’s also not a lot of work. It’s a lot of nights here
at Dojo as Michael knows, ’cause he always watches the
security cameras at night. (laughing) Like we buy nine coffees
and then we come here. Nine lattes, and we sit
with Andre and everybody, we sit there in the Air-con room at night, and then we ship loads of features, but usually, these are cycles. What? We play techno music, yeah. And we dance on the table. Don’t let Michael know. He might kick us out. (laughing) But it goes in cycles, so
it’s a lot of hard work for many days or weeks, and then, now it’s pretty much
like very little work. So it’s just running. But yeah, I think you can keep
things running for very long, but then it slowly will get dusty merely because the time changes. People will want different design. There’s different trends, right? Or different, I don’t
know, even travel trends, so you wanna slowly
maybe change the website. But my idea now for
2018 was to kind of keep it running and live a little bit more, and relax a little bit more,
’cause the last four years was like a whirlwind of
hardcore working, traveling, and doing all this stuff, and yeah. It’s very intense if you
do everything yourself, like press stuff. Like people attack you in the press. New York Times articles,
it’s always, yeah. Weird shit. But it’s very intense,
so maybe relax more. – Yeah, man, hey. Over the years, what do you
think top three mistakes that you’ve done that
you could have avoided? – Top three. I think listening to
yourself, to your intuition is much more important than I thought. I was trusting always
on the internet so much, like TechCrunch and shit, like
I started reading TechCrunch like 2011, and I thought that was the way to build a startup. Like, you raise 23 million
dollars, and you hire a team and get a office and stuff,
and it didn’t turn out to be for me, anyway, the thing to do. And every time, I’m really
stubborn, but every time I think something is the way to do it, it turns out to be the way to do it for me just because I force it kinda, and so trusting yourself
and your intuition is super important. You’re not wrong, usually. The time is wrong, you’re not wrong. Like a lot of people here, we’re nomads, and this is a very early adopter scene, so you’re already an early adopter, so it means I think you know
things a little bit better than the common people, or,
oh that sounds really bad, like normal people, normies. But it means that, if you
would never trust yourself, you wouldn’t even be here,
so you wanna trust yourself, very important. That’s the most important thing. Other mistakes. Yeah, just be nicer. Be nice in anything. Twitter, it’s a hell hole. I know a lot of you
people aren’t on Twitter. I’m on Twitter a lot. The tech scene is on Twitter. So many haters, especially
when things are going well. First, nobody knows you, and
then things are going well, and people just start
hating on you for no reason. So, don’t engage with haters. Ignore them. They’re just angry, and I
don’t know a third mistake. No, really, I don’t know. – Anything else? Question? – You guys? – How did you monetize The Digital Nomads? – Website, Nomad List, it’s
a membership site mostly, so you can join. Like I said, you can use
everything on the website. It’s like a read-only website,
so there’s social profiles of where I traveled and stuff, and then I can see where
somebody else is traveling, but if you actually wanna
have your own profile, you need to sign up. You log on with Facebook,
and then you have to pay $1 a day or $99 a year, I think, and then you can use all the features, so it’s kinda like teasing. Like you show the features, but then, if people wanna interact, they can’t. They have to pay. It wasn’t like that from the start, no. Well, the start was only a city list. That was it. But, actually this is a good story. The reason I started charging money was because I was getting spammers. I had this Slack chat for nomads, and it started filling up. Within a month, there was
a thousand people on there, and we started getting these
internet marketing people, and I think if you’re on Facebook, you know very well. These people, they’re
also in these Bali groups. They’re like, “Hey guys,
I’m selling my course, “so I’m getting new people on” and stuff, and it was just really annoying
that everybody was selling their own shit all the time. So, I was so annoyed, so I was like, okay, well, you know, you’re
obviously selling something, so pay for it, so $5. I got a Typeform for $5
and started charging, and then, it slowed down a
little bit, the spammers, but then it started growing more, and then, again, the same
thing, all these spammers. So, $25, okay $50, $100,
and they kept paying, so it was kinda like accidentally, I had a business model where
people actually paid for Xs, and also, the room spam,
there’s hardly any spam now. So, yeah, accident. And you had a question. – Yeah, I had a question. So you said about coding? – Yeah. – You said, don’t do any boot camp, any kind of– – Just my personal opinion. – Yeah, that’s okay, but
what would you recommend to start learning? – I google. – Would you do PHP? I know, but the language. – I don’t think it matters, no. – You don’t think it matters? – No. – You just go with, for someone that don’t know anything, should just go and Google, and you search, – Yeah– – I wanna do– – I used PHP and JavaScript
and CSS, all plain, vanilla, but I don’t think it matters. I think all these JavaScript
frameworks are very difficult and obtruse and bullshit,
but theoretically, you should just Google
and then figure it out for yourself, even which
language you should figure out for yourself, because figuring out for yourself is the main skill you need. – Yeah. – Right, that’s the point. – And so once you figure
it out by yourself, if there are some boot camps available that are faster,
obviously, how many times– – It’s not faster. – So you took less than two
months or three months to learn? – No, I could do basic
WordPress PHP stuff. – Yeah. – And then, you know, I could make a table of cities, so I did that. So I copied the stuff from
the Google sheet to a table. Then I had Nomad List, and I launched it. And then I was like, okay,
how do I make this city pop up open with more data? So I was like, okay, how
to hide stuff on webpage, and enter, and then
fuck, this is bullshit. (laughing) JQuery, what the fuck? Okay, JQuery doesn’t work. (groaning) Days of this pain, this suffering. Which is, this suffering is essential to getting anywhere in life, as you know, any skill, so yeah. Just Google any little question, because if you see coders here, I would suggest, go in Dojo on a day, and look around for rural developers. See what they’re actually doing. They’re half the time
in this coding screen, black with colors, half the time they’re Googling everything. Every day, I don’t know what
to do with this fucking code, and I have to Google it, and
then I’m on Stack Overflow. I’m like, ah, this looks horrible. Copy, paste. Okay, wow, it works. This is amazing. (laughing) And that’s literally my day. – But if you don’t
understand why it works, – No, it doesn’t matter. – Okay. – I think the coders are half, half the codes the codes
they don’t understand. I didn’t understand most, though. I’m not joking, I’m serious. – Okay. – Really, just Google. Yeah. (audience chattering) Nice, yeah. (laughing) (audience chattering) Yeah, it’s weird, I don’t know. I’m just saying my
opinion, my perspective. Like I said, your mileage may vary. Maybe there’s different
styles, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s
different styles to be honest, but that’s my opinion. (laughing) Do you have more questions? – When you did the fake
Stripe checkout stuff, did you get any negative feedback to that, when you fake the features,
and you fake the– – No, I don’t think so. I didn’t use Stripe logo. I just, like a payment box. – No one– – But it was definitely
a little bit brutal. Like crazy thing to do, but I didn’t save any credit card data, so it’s. I was like, sorry, I didn’t. I wrote that. I said, I didn’t save
your credit card data. This is bullshit. This is just a test if
you actually would pay for the feature. – What did people respond to that? – Nothing, I just got their E-mail. I don’t know what they
respond, like, yeah. I just got their E-mail. Then I sent them an E-mail, and they paid for the the real feature, so yeah. Anymore questions? Don’t be shy, ’cause
otherwise I become really shy. Yeah, you. – Have you ever made something and then had this feeling that it’s crap? – Yeah, everyday. – Before and after? – No, still, so this guy,
Bettra Siska, this week, he was whining about Nomad List
being the most ugly website he’s ever seen, and I got so triggered. I started overheating in the coffee shop. Like wow, why it so hot here? Like God damn it. You know, he helped me
align everything properly, like designer, and now
he’s like, it looks good. So, yeah, it’s always,
that’s art, you know? I think it’s very similar to art. It’s never. The moment you made it, you hate it, so. – True, absolutely, has
happened to me lots of times. – Yeah, it’s absolutely normal. You can just keep making new stuff. That’s what artists do. You know, just ship
more startups, and yeah. But, you know, the thing
is, when it makes money, it kinda like, it’s like, oh, it’s a really horrible
website, but it makes money, so some idiots might like it, you know? (laughing) You might think that. Not really, but kinda. Yeah. But you’re always further
than your audience, right? Like everything I’m telling now, maybe I hardly don’t even
believe in it anymore. It’s just you’re always ahead. ‘Cause you’re the maker. You’re not the consumer of
the work, so, normal, yeah. Any other questions? – When you’re doing big
launches on Product Hunt or Reddit, and you see this huge spike of new users, how do you
know, especially when you get the big drop off
afterwards, how do you know at what point to stop
working on the website, or what data do you look
at since you’ve built a lot of these? You know, you’ve launched
a lot of startups. At what data do you look at to know whether to continue? – I think it’s kinda
like a feeling now, so, you want daily people kinda to come back. I don’t know how much. It’s kinda hard to say, right? But a good thing to
track is press mentions. So what I have, I have a Google Bookmark where it’s like past
24 hours or past week, and I have in quotation
marks, the name of my product, like Hood Maps or Nomad List or whatever. You can do Nomad List in quotation marks or Hood Maps in quotation marks, last 24 hours, and I just
have it as a bookmark, so sometimes I click, and I’m like, okay, what are people talking, are they talking about
my app or are they not? What’s happening? And tracking that and seeing
nobody talk about your app at all after it was on Product Hunt? Yeah, that might be a
little difficult, you know? That might mean that it’s not important. Andre just launched or is working on, what is Dark Mode List, yeah, so a website where you can see which
apps have dark modes, and that’s been getting press mentions all over the place now,
so that’s kinda like, that validates it a little bit. Like he can continue working on it, and if everybody’s like,
okay, this is really bullshit, why should I write about it as press? Then, okay, maybe skip it. Although press is definitely
getting less and less relevant, but yeah, people talking
about it is always good. – Thanks. – And it’s about if you, how far do you wanna
continue with it, you know? Is it just a gimmick
app, or is it a real app you really believe in,
then you might wanna give it a few more weeks, but I would not give it a few more months. It’s very risky. You’re wasting your time. Just do new stuff, in my opinion, so. Anymore questions? – Yo. Any features on your sites that
you regret not charging for or charging too late, early, or? – I don’t know, I think Nomad
List, it’s so much data now and so valuable, and it
sounds really arrogant, but it’s a really, it’s
kinda like a really useful travel planner
now to find destinations to go and to find how it is there, and I think it would be obvious to slowly charge a little
bit more for premium stuff. Maybe how many filters
you can use or whatever, like limits, use just a
little bit, but then again, I also don’t wanna do that
because it annoys people, and I wanna be the main
travel search website kinda that’s out there for nomads, so yeah, I think I could
have charged more for that, like just a little Stripe box. Okay, just pay $10 to use
all the features, you know? Doesn’t have to be like a membership. ‘Cause a lot of people say, the main free website’s very useful. The community website, I
really don’t care about ’cause I don’t wanna make friends. I don’t care, I have enough
friends or something. So that means you lose. I’m missing out on a lot of money with giving something for free, and I see with a lot of people,
they give away everything for free, and yeah,
you probably shouldn’t. You should probably
limit from the beginning, because it’s hard to start
limiting features now. Now everybody will become angry,
than do it from the start. So. – So, let’s say that maybe
you have some other kind of business, some other
product or something else, and you want something like Product Hunt, and there’s nothing for
it, but essentially, you wanna validate your idea. How would you go about doing that, or what would be kind of a
structure that you would have, or via somebody else. Say they have a product. Say they’re shipping some kind of thing on somewhere else. What would you do or tell them to do? – I don’t completely understand. So you have a product that
doesn’t fit Product Hunt? – Yeah, so part of your
success, a great deal, as I understand it is that
you’re have this community where you can easily go, and
you can validate your product. You know, you take Nomad
List to Product Hunt. Everybody likes it. What would you suggest, say for example, if there wasn’t a Product Hunt for that. – Yeah, I think you need
to go to your horse forum, your niche forums or niche websites. Reddit has a lot of niches,
subreddits with niches. You can do a fairly physical thing. Like, there’s a guy
called Patrick McKenzie, Patio11, who’s a big inspiration of me, and he would go into hair salons and just start selling his. He had like an app called
Appointment Reminder where he would get an SMS
message an hour before you had your hairdressing
appointment or something, so he would go into barber shops, and just say, “Hey, I have this app.” And they’re like, “Yeah,
of course we want this. “This is amazing. “It will save us so much
time and people forgetting “their hair appointments.” So, physically even
going to your customers. Where are your customers? Where are your users? Even that you can do if
there’s no websites, you know? But you need to think
about where are your users? How can you get to them? – Have you ever come up with, are all your ideas original,
or have you ever looked at a website and thought,
or an idea and thought, this is garbage. I can do it better? And then executed on it. – It’s mostly, again, it’s like I’ve tried to solve problems always, so I would find websites that
solve my problems, but partly. Like Nomad List is a lot
of cost of living data. There’s Numbeo, there’s Expatistan which are now my competitors. They were doing that,
but they didn’t give me filter buttons and they didn’t give me, it wasn’t targeted nomads. They had no idea about nomads, so, yeah, there’s always websites
that are already doing it, but I think you have to
fundamentally think about your problem. Go from first principles. What’s your problem that
you wanna solve here, and that’s gonna make
the whole journey easier. – Do you not ever think
that you’ve expanded so much that investing in PPC or getting a team or social media manager, then
you could grow a lot more, or is it if you just stay as one person, other businesses might overtake you? – So I had a social media media manager a little bit who buffered. She buffered Tweets and
Facebook posts and stuff, and it was okay. It was very nice work, but I think it’s a very weird time now where actually, everybody’s doing all the social media posting stuff, and I think we’re very
tired of content and stuff, and I think a lot of
people just want an app that just does something
specifically, functionally. Like, for example, no one
is like, where do I go now? Filters, okay, there I go. And a lot of these, a lot of solutions for problems are apps, or
they’re a solver of things that you can easily,
that are hard to make, but you can automate, and a lot of, I see less and less perspective of future in stuff that’s human, which sounds fucking autistic, but it’s just, it’s kinda like how it is. The future is robotic and automation, and, yeah. I think it’s easier to
make money like that with just software, and
anything that involves a ring of humans around it is hard. I think actually it’s harder to scale, but I don’t completely
know the right answer, but I think it’s harder to scale, yeah. ‘Cause software just scales. Literally, now I have maybe
40 people on my website, generally, at this moment. If it’s on Reddit, I’ll have 4,000, and nothing changes, you know? And I don’t need to hire people, and to me that’s amazing. – Pieter, that’s the
idea that we’re moving towards the useless revolution, where everyone becomes useless. – I think so. Yeah, not even a joke. It’s serious. Basic income. Free money for everybody. ‘Cause again, it sounds so fucked up, but I’m annoying too, as a human. Most the times I don’t even wanna work. I need to drink two lattes
to even get some codes on the paper, and this robot just runs, and it doesn’t sleep. So I think definitely, yeah. Don’t be scared of it, but embrace it. Start coding. Very important to code, sorry. It’s so important. If you’re not coding, you’re
gonna be unemployed, maybe, probably, yes. (laughing) So thank you for listening,
and thank you for coming, and if you have questions, after, private one-on-one,
we can also talk here, so yeah. Thanks so much, guys. (clapping) – Thank you, Pieter Levels. – Thank you everyone for coming. (audience chattering) Thank you, Pieter, thank you. For everyone, maybe you can how about give five stars to Dojo. Thank you so much. (laughing) (audience chattering)

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83 thoughts on “Turning Side Projects into Profitable Startups

  1. Really good content, I think you've showed me a new kind of startup: no bootstrap, because there's so much commodities on the internet (cloud, for example) and niche markets around the world. I think that's a way to really start an entrepreneur movement. This could even be a way to be a startup accelerator ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Regarding Coding Bootcamps you have to know that not all people will learn to code by themselves. Learn to code is HARD, and itโ€™s best to have a guidance and accelerate the process if you have the opportunity and the money to do it. So please donโ€™t generalize stuff not all Coding Bootcamp are scams.

  3. Thank you for putting this out, you have inspired me to get my ass into gear and get the robots up and running, thanks dude

  4. Hey Pieter, did you try Zeroqode/Bubble for building complex web apps without code? Check it out https://zeroqode.com

  5. There were plenty of great things in the talk, but seeing the one-time vs residual income side-by-side really hit home. Using a marketplace like Envato to immediately access a large audience doesn't seem like a good idea anymore in lieu of the potential revenue loss over the years to come.

  6. Pieter Level's problem-solving strategy is to Google and struggles with it until an eventual success. This is crucial in starting your own company. There are a lot of struggles that will happen and if you can't work through the pain, you won't make it.

  7. This quote rings alot of truth to me:
    Pieter: "It's harder to scale WITH people."

    Immagine training someone in your company, or best case they grew along with the company.
    Then you need to change directions to stay competetive… wel good luck switching all your employees.

    Also i like the burtal honesty.

  8. What was the name of the guy who build his startup in public? (I know Pieter did that too, but I mean the name he gives on the presentation)

  9. Such a inspiration! All the time Iโ€™m big fan of him in twitter ๐Ÿ™‚ . I wish he would be my mentor/advisor . Thanks for sharing Pieter.

  10. This is a good example of "just go ahead and do things any way you can and want to".
    I don't agree with every single advice, but the overall state of mind is very healthy.

  11. I think this is the only 1 hour video on YouTube that I sat through. Well done & big kudos! Keen to launch Friend Theory after seeing this!

  12. This was really informative. Thanks so much for sharing you knowledge! Is the book profanity-free hopefully? (^_^ ) I saw your pre-order page, very tempting

  13. a friend of mine shared your posting & video to check out, so I ran thru your video. A few months ago, I accidentally landed at your nomadlist website and I thought it was very cool but i had to start a new project with small startup so I did not continue. It feels awesome that I met the creator of nomadlist. I'm living in Korea and I never thought abou going global SaaS but with your strategy, why not.. I can give it a try.
    One question for you Mr. Levels, I could not figure out this legal question on the internet. You briefly talked about setting up one company to avoid all the difficult tax and legal issues. If I start a service globally, where do you suggest or recommend to start a company (if my biz is SaaS, IT service such as nomadlist). I don't assume your legal company resides in Bali.. so
    I heard about founding a company resides in Delaware, USA but like you said, it costs a few hundreds of dollars so. .

    Thank you

  14. Hey guys, to anyone who would like to answer … How do you go about Name Selection at the beginning of your business. For example: if you want to rapidly test, then you couldn't possibly go and do worldwide trademarking for each brand you create, *AZ Shoe CO*, but if your idea strikes and then someone, somewhere, decides to get a piece of the action … how do you go about name/brand protection?

  15. Hey Pieter, thanks for this great and inspiring lecture.
    I think that one of (many) the keys to your success is your ability to literally "move fast and break things".
    Can you share your "technology stack"? Do you use some "bootstrapping" tools and services to make things easier or you just start coding from scratch (server, frontend, etc.)? How did you manage to develop so many projects so fast?

    I wonder if it's "just" talent and experience, being able to make things fast, or, you have a "system" that you "groomed" through the years that makes this bootstrapping very fast from time to time.
    Well, I guess it's little of both. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Love this presentation. Everything is good in the video except the points about coding –

    "It doesn't matter whether we understand the code we copied from Stackoverflow. Its fine if it just works"
    and you also say
    "Coders doesn't understand half of the code"
    Both of these sentences are wrong IMHO.

    Pieter Levels, this kind of coding is a problem. Its true that there are people who figure out things easily by just doing google. This is a hackish way of coding. By doing copy paste and not thinking how this code gonna effect the product in the long run will soon take us into a rabbit hole of code mess and issues. Its very important to understand the code you are writing,

    Is it maintainable in the long run?
    How does it affect the overall system?

    Please don't take me wrong. Take this as my 2 cent advice. I am your customer and supporter.

  17. Amazing talk Pieter, you hooked me from the beginning of the video! Could you help me to clear up my doubts ? What would you define as prototype? Because you can't just launch a prototype on ProductHunt, Reddit, HN, etc and validate the idea, can you? Everything on there is already a final first (or second, etc.) version. But then how do you validate the idea? This leads me to a kind of vicious circle: you can't validate the idea before letting people know about it and you can't either waste time launching a product before validating the idea. So, how do you validate the idea with a prototype: that is a unfinished product or a concept. Also, suppose I use a landing page to validate an idea for example, where do you get people to know about it, it's just a landing page, you can't use PH, Reddit, IH, HN or press because there is no product yet, how and where do you get people to know about and subscribe to it? Sorry for bothering with my tireless curiosity.

  18. Great stuff, Pieter!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I've used Nomad List and actively share it with my community – Upfly (์—…ํ”Œ๋ผ์ด TV), and recently found out about behind the scenes through '12 startups in 12 months' post. It hits me so much – in a very positive way ;-), and I am dying to interview you and share your story with my audience, Korean professionals who want to build an international career.

    My stalking skill was not that good, as I couldn't find your email address :-S. Would you be able to let me know if you're open to discuss by comment here or email ([email protected]) please?

  19. Great video, talk and success Pieter. What you left mark with is NomadList.
    Shared this video on https://moon.ly.


  20. i had jitters just thinking about giving a talk someday. how nervous were you, it looked like a sauna in there. this is fucking awesome thank you

  21. "Most days I need to drink 2 lattes just to get some code on the paper. This robot just runs, and it doesn't sleep."

  22. Great video, really transparent and cutting the crap. I think you're advice applies just as well to large software companies. Greetings from, for a change *sunny*, Netherlands.

  23. Great talk Pieter, thank you! I feel a bit weird about coding my start up in public as its going to be mostly a paid service. Are there any "dangers" involved as far as, for example, security?

  24. Did you make the design for remoteok and nomadlist yourself? If yes, how? I have huge trouble designing something that looks nice.

  25. Love the process of launching the idea! Just small advice from a tech guy: don't say cronjobs are robots ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. What are the main features start up business bank account? Tailored and Customized Fees – Some of the best business bank accounts for startups offer set of fees that outfitted to their specific requirements. Fees can differ drastically depending on the risk factor of the startup. Get details of a start up account here https://www.gbo-intl.com/banks-accounts-startups-companies/, Watch this video https://youtu.be/cUWLKXSgFco

  27. Love you bro… you changed my life by following you I've been able to be 100% remote and have multiple online business. Now making 16k to 21k per month by following what you been doing over the years.

  28. Whoa!

    I will go effing do it.
    That is a lot of valuable information out there for someone who wants to just start up! Thank you.

  29. Thank you for this helpful talk and for sharing your experience. I've launched Pair & Compare on Product Hunt and since then, it's the main source of my visitors

  30. Curious about the robots you mentioned in the automation section of your talk. Did you build them or is that a service? What exactly are they doing?

    Great talk ๐Ÿ‘
    Thanks much ๐Ÿ™

  31. About your opinion with coding, that most of the coders are on stackoverflow and you shouldn't spend enough time learning it wasn't maybe very fair.

    I take every thing like this as a math equation, based on time saving for example:
    How much time do I save in next year of programming if I use 3 weeks to learn this thing?

    And things like this add up, and you could finish coding a website in maybe 24h instead of 200.

    I used to work in a big company with all kind of experienced DEVS and always, 3+years developers, would finish 4 times faster than 1 year experienced dev. When taking this equation for 10 years, it grows exponentially.

    That's just my opinion didn't mean to offend anyone.

  32. Thank you for your realistic and practical advice. You affirm for me that the true source of ideas is within one's experiences and unique challenges. You confirm for me that diversity of experience is the wellspring of creativity and knowledge. I'm pumped. Ima go f'n do it.

  33. Just watched half of the presentation now, but basically, applying the Musk technique is always good: don't advertise, and have such a good product that people will talk about it and it will make you free advertisement. Mr. Musk said that he hardly put any money into advertising for Tesla, and instead invested it into R&D for a better product. It paid off very well ๐Ÿ˜€

  34. Actually ads are one of the most powerful things for business. You always pay to gain traffic for you project. You may write blog posts trying to optimize them for search engines. You may spend time writing your comments or posts on other websites trying to interest people with your project. But you pay for all of that with your time. And ultimately you don't know who your clients are. You don't know they gender, age, location etc.

    When you use ads you pay money, but you can instantly get to know your ideal client. And when you know the critical factor for business – how much on average clients pay you in their lifetime you can tell how much you can spend to get single client. Then your business becomes a simple math and you can say is it profitable, is it scalable, how fast it can grow.

    Bulding your business on top of "organic" traffic is like trying to fit puzzle pieces with closed eyes. Sometimes it works but definitely it's not a good recipe.

  35. You are such a inspiration and motivation. Bought your book Peter! Thank you for sharing this valuable insight

  36. I think Peter is great, but he's wrong about paid ads.

    Its actually better to build a business with paid.

    1. You'll still know if people like your product if its paid (or it wont work)
    2. You can leave less to guessing vs organic If a community likes it, get ambassadors, etc.
    3. You can predictably grow. Justifying a much higher sale price.

    Whatd i know though. Im not running thr world's largest remote job site

  37. Hm interesting talk – it sounds great but may obviously not be for everyone.
    My ideas for instance are usually pretty big and so take a lot of time even to get just a decent prototype done.
    And while it's possible that 2/10 projects become popular, there's also a chance that none of them will. Especially if you're not good at networking.

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