February 15th, 2021
I understand the value of Clubhouse, why it's going viral, and I think it’s a very cool idea.

But I also know that hanging out there won't make me smarter or grow my business. It also won't make me happier.

For me, fulfillment, happiness, and results come from focusing and working on hard things. Not just in business, but in other aspects of life.

95% of the time, consumption, specifically social media consumption, is a distraction.

Things get tricky when we blur the line between consumption and work. We tell ourselves things like “Twitter is essential to my business” or "I must read that business book".
February 14th, 2021
https://twitter.com/levelsio/status/1361064842472398848

People are starting to see through all of the people that are "adding value" through tweetstorms but really just sitting on the sidelines yackity-yackin.

The people doing real work and building businesses will be rewarded greatly over the next few years.

I'll keep doing that.
February 11th, 2021
I haven't been writing much lately. That's because I've been focused so much on Starter Story.

Really enjoying working on it these days, and trying to limit my other commitments as much as I can to focus on it!

I go through phases. Sometimes, I'm putting hours and hours each day into my writing here, sometimes minutes, like today.

As I said in my first blog post, I should keep this updated (at least) with what I did for the day.

Here's some things I did today:

- Finished up best ideas for countries content type
- Worked on gross margin algorithm for Starter Story
- Reviewed some project plans for Starter Story
- Tweeted a few things
- Bought some shares of Twitter (how is it only $50B company?)

I'm back in Florida now and I wake up really early here: 5AM EST which is awesome because I can get so much done before most people even wake up (especially on West coast).

I worked for about 5 hours at my new favorite spot (Panera Bread).

Headed out for a pace run marathon training session soon.
February 9th, 2021
Pick one business to work on.

Never stop working on it.

Everything about the business can (and will) change, including: 

  • the idea, 
  • the business model, 
  • the market, 
  • the people,
  • the name itself.

No matter what changes, the business will never cease to exist.

Why? Because a business is not a brand, company, or website. A business is an idea in your head.

Even if you lost everything, and it all went to ZERO. You'd still be thinking about business and therefore you'd still be in business

When the idea leaves your head, that's when the business is over. That's when it has failed.

"Business isn't about money to me, David. If tomorrow my company goes under I will just start another paper company. And then another and another and another. I have no shortage of company names."

- Michael Scott
February 8th, 2021
1. Start a business
2. Save and invest
3. Work out daily
4. Stack sats
5. Own as little material crap as possible
6. Live way below your means
February 8th, 2021
Common question I get: "What's a good business idea?"

The answer: it depends.

A good business idea depends on you as a person.

What are your strengths/weaknesses. If you can build a business that aligns with your strengths, you'll significantly increase your chances of success.

What's unique about *you*? Why are you the right person to build this business? If you have a good answer for that, you might be onto something.

Sometimes, it's hard to identify this. That's why it's good to experiment with different businesses. Eventually, you'll find it.
February 5th, 2021
Here's an awesome thing I found: sleep podcasts.

I've been listening to podcasts to fall asleep for the last 15 years.

Yet, I'm just finding that there are actual sleep podcasts.

I listen to this one now, and I've never not fallen asleep to an episode.

Judging by the amount of ratings that podcast has, they probably have tens of thousands of downloads per episode! Great business idea, too!
February 5th, 2021
This week, The Hustle was acquired by Hubspot for $27M. And a couple of months ago, Morning Brew was acquired by Business Insider for $75M. 

It is exciting to see media companies having big exits. I believe we are just a couple of years behind those guys, maybe even less.

I’m not thinking about an exit, but this news does give us more validation. It also fuels us to work harder and push the limits of what’s possible with our small team.

Last month, we saw 880k visitors to the website (+37.5% over December), and our email list just hit 51k. Our revenues were $24,784 on an accrual basis.


Shut Down Pigeon

I shut down Pigeon, for good. I tried to sell it, but no dice. All of our focus is now on Starter Story. We are building something BIG and I’ve never had more energy and excitement.

Goals

Last month, I said we’ll do more courses and try new channels like YouTube, but I take that back... We’re going to stay focused on our main goal: website growth.

We will keep pushing on our SEO efforts to grow the reach of the website. It’s what we are best at. I said this a few times before, but I believe we are still scratching the surface here.

My 2021 goals: 5M monthly visitors and $100K monthly revenue by December 2021.

Over the next few months, we’ll focus mainly on website and visitor growth, and depending on how that goes, we may switch to “monetization” mode later in the year. But right now, we have a lot of cash to hold us through so we can focus on GROWTH!

Business Idea Profiles

In January, we launched the Business Ideas Profiles, a more data/dashboard approach and I’m confident that this will be a big feature for us as we continue to develop it out.


Internally, we are thinking a lot about how we can scale this to 10,000 business ideas. We plan to have the most comprehensive database of business ideas on the internet. Starter Story is a technology-first media company: Crunchbase meets Forbes, or the Wikipedia for entrepreneurs.

Email

We are also putting more work into the email newsletter. In January I experimented a lot with different “styles” of newsletters.

Overall, I think it’s worth it to spend more time there. Each of our newsletters generated an average of ~$1k in sales of our membership.

Removed Chat From Site

Lastly, we removed the Intercom chat from our site. We added a FAQ and switched to email support for the rest. This was the right move and is allowing us to focus.

I’m excited for February and beyond!

- The Starter Story team.
February 3rd, 2021
This is my favorite part of Jeff Bezos’ goodbye letter to Amazon

How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success. 

We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. 

If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.

“Invention” is also my favorite part about being an entrepreneur and starting businesses.

When you think of an “inventor”, you might think of someone who creates gizmos, or electric cars, or the light bulb.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:

invention - noun - a unique or novel device, method, composition or process.

I’m also an inventor. I invent features, processes, strategies, new business models, and new ideas.

One of Amazon’s mentioned inventions was “1-click check out”. That doesn’t sound like an invention! 

But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it was a new idea.

All that matters is they came up with the idea, experimented and executed, and eventually had success.

They probably had thousands of ideas that didn’t work out. That’s all part of being an inventor.

I have a new respect for Jeff Bezos after reading this email. Even though he’s the richest man, he’s still reminiscing about the cool, small, fun inventions that collectively built the Amazon empire.

A lot of people ask me questions about how I built Starter Story. “How did you do XYZ?”

My answer? We invented it. We went through the painful process of research, experimenting, executing, trial and error, failure, and learning from my mistakes.

Just like Amazon, we came up with new ideas and we turned them into reality.

I’m not sure if you can be successful as an entrepreneur without the ability to invent.

And even more importantly, inventing is the most fun part about being an entrepreneur, for me. If I didn’t get to invent, I’m not sure I’d still be here...

At Starter Story, we are inventing:

  • An automated UGC interview process (2,500+ interviews)
  • More transparency in entrepreneurship than mostly anywhere else
  • An SEO machine and scalable backend (the ideas behind Lean SEO)
  • The biggest database of business ideas in the world
  • A new style of running a business with freelancers
  • Tons of automations
  • And more...

To you, these may sound silly and not that inventive. But for me, I obsess over these things.

Maybe you can show me some other people doing similar things. But what you don’t see is the nuance

There is nobody else doing these things in the same way that we are, therefore, we invented them. We are inventors.

From now on, I might start calling myself an inventor.

Because it’s fucking awesome to be an inventor. This is why I do it. To create new valuable things out of nothing that people use.

That is the greatest feeling in starting a business - that you invented something new.
February 2nd, 2021
A message I wrote to all Pigeon users:

After two years of working on this project, I've decided to shut down Pigeon.

Unfortunately, Pigeon is not a viable business due to the large fees we have to pay to use Google's API. We cannot sustain the business and stay profitable, and we are forced to shut down.

The product will remain fully functional until March 30, 2021
. If you have important data in Pigeon, please export your data by March 30, 2021.

If you're a paying user, your subscription has been canceled. If you bought a yearly subscription, please email me and I will refund you prorated.

Building Pigeon was a wonderful experience, but I'm sorry it didn't work out. Thank you for your time and for checking out our cool little tool.

Thank you,

Pat
January 28th, 2021
The GameStop saga is absolutely insane. A defining moment for the internet.

I can't look away. I find it utterly captivating.

This is the modern day David vs. Goliath.

I need to figure out how to focus on work. This has become too much...
January 26th, 2021
I wrote this yesterday in about 3 minutes. Wrote it for myself. I just needed to get those thoughts on paper...

Then, I had a ton of people DM me about it, tweet about it, etc.

I seem to have hit a nerve, which wasn’t my intention, but why?

My blog here hasn’t been top priority lately… Traffic is down, shares are down, etc.

But what’s different about that blog post and others? That one was super honest and real.

Those were my real feelings at that moment and I had an urge to write about it.

That’s what I need to keep doing on this blog. If I go back one year and look at my posts, they’re all like this.

Need to be more in touch with myself. The only way to grow and be happy. And it's when I love writing.
146
January 26th, 2021
A couple years ago, this would mean I'm trending on Hacker News.

I would be going crazy.

This many people are using something I built, right now!?

Now this is just normal. It's like this every minute of every day...

.
January 25th, 2021
Here’s a trend I’m seeing on Twitter recently. These kind of “influencer” guys posting tweetstorms that get thousands of likes and RTs…

Part of me feels jealous. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and try to share valuable things, but I don’t have results like that.

I see some guy sharing a bit of cringey, surface-level advice on personal productivity and getting massively rewarded on the platform…

“Here are 10 things I learned in my 20s…”

And that hurts a bit. At some level, I want those results, too. I want the fame and the glory and the thousands of RTs.

But I also can’t see myself sharing this “mainstream” advice which I can only describe with the word “basic”.

It’s just kind of sad that Twitter is becoming like this, or at least that kind of thing is entering into my circle every time I go on the platform.

I unfollowed a bunch of people recently just because I don’t really want to see this thing. There is some envy at play here, but also, this “content” is not of value to me at all. In fact, it’s probably a detriment to my own success.

But there’s always a balance. To avoid the bullshit, I’ll probably also miss a lot of valuable things…

I just hate to see it because it’s so clearly a “tactic”. The content is posted to be optimized for likes and retweets, but it’s not really optimized to provide value.

That’s the bigger problem with social media. That people are rewarded for what they say not what they do.


It’s annoying to see these influencer guys gain 20k,30k & 100k followers from these “tactics”.

But at the end of the day, followers != impact.

Looking good on social media is one of the ultimate traps. I love this tweet:


I’m just rambling at this point, but felt it was important to get some of my thoughts down...
January 25th, 2021
This is a letter to myself to remind me about my priorities.

We should be focusing on making Starter Story a whole lot better.

Not courses, not YouTube videos, not interesting tweets. 

We should be 99% focused on creating an insanely valuable website and resource for users.

Our only goal: Help people start and grow their business. Help them better. Help them more.

It’s so easy to get caught up in things other than your mission. Revenue, traffic, press, ego, funding, employees, “calls”, “partnerships”, going on podcasts, looking good to others in your industry. Status games!

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. 

Personally, I’d like to care less about all of this. I wish I was a bit more detached from all this “industry” stuff, and it’s something I’m always working on.

Our goal should always be to create something that is amazing for USERS. Our users are not on Twitter. Everything we do, every decision we make, we must be thinking HARD about the user.

If we stay focused on this, we will grow bigger than ever. And in the end, have more “status” than we would if we played “status games” in early days. 

Luckily, we’re in a position where we can do this, right now. We are profitable and can allocate resources effectively to our mission. I am very grateful for that.

We don’t need to do too many “money grabs”.

With every decision and project, let’s ask ourselves:

Is what we are working on going to improve the website? Improve the user experience? Make our database and pages more accurate and useful? Will it help someone out there start a business?