Self Development February 10, 2021

I don’t want my app to be my full-time gig

Justin Hunter @polluterofminds

From the time I was 18 years old and started my first online business with friends from high school, I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to be a founder, run my own show. It took me a long time to get there (like 15 years a long time), but in 2017 I finally had learned to code and launched an app called Graphite Docs.

That app gave me my first true taste of entrepreneurship. It allowed me to quit my day job and focus on my own thing full-time. It was a dream come true. From there, I started another company, this one venture-backed and with a couple co-founders. We went through a startup accelerator and I experienced the fast-paced world of a “true” startup. Still running the show but in a different environment.

When that came to an end, I found a job working with people I like and on a product I not only believe in but used in my own past apps. And I find myself no longer needing or wanting to run a business full-time.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like building things. It just means I want to do it on the side. At least right now. And that’s why my goal with Perligo is to keep it intentionally small. I’m launching a private, invite-only alpha of the app on Friday because I want people testing it but also to control the app’s growth.

Someday, I may return to running my own thing full-time, but for now I enjoy keeping my side projects on the side.

  1. 2

    great app idea. signed up for it :-)

    1. 1

      Thanks so much! That makes me happy to hear. I'll be sending out another round of alpha invites end of this week :)

  2. 2

    You may be interested in Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling

    1. 1

      Ha! I’m actually reading through it for the second time right now. Love that book.

  3. 2

    Thanks for sharing this perspective. Can I ask what happened to your first app (did it ever reach profitability?) as well as the startup that followed?

    1. 1

      Sure! My first app was profitable for a time...through grants. However, it never really generated revenue from customers. I have an interview I did on Failory that sheds more light on it. The tl;dr is that I went after enterprise customers and never considered the consumer market that was already excited about my product.

      My second startup received pre-seed funding through an accelerator and as we went out to raise our round, COVID hit. Investors shut their doors at the beginning of the pandemic, so we struggled along as long as we could. I eventually left to give my co-founders more runway since they could live off less income than I could.

      1. 2

        Thanks for sharing! I go back and forth regarding grants too (I mean, money's money!). I got a small grant my first year, and now I don't know whether it's hubris, but part of me wants to stay away from those given that I'd rather find out for real whether or not I have product/market fit.

        Your story also resonates because now, 2 years in, I'm being smacked in the face with the fact that marketing is actually what will carry the day (given that the product is mostly built). And this is a whole new skill set I need to learn and I'm coming to terms with this. Meanwhile, a job where I can get paid to just hack away sounds real nice right now :P

        1. 1

          Yeah grant money is good for, well, money. But it gives an illusion of product market for even when one might not yet exist. It’s tough.

  4. 2

    The app seems like a cool idea. My daughter is writer, and she has criticisms of some of the other platforms for sharing and getting feedback, namely that they are too open. I, too, would like to build on the side, and I'm thankful for the ability to do that, and to be able to refine my app without worrying about living off of it.

    1. 1

      Hey! Thanks, Josh! It's nice to be able to work on something knowing up front you don't want or need to to be your full time income. Many people consider that "art and not business" but that's not how I see it. I think a business is anything generating income.

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