Paul Graham's definition of a startup is a company designed to grow fast. But I hate startups, where do I begin?
Let's start with Crystal Horse Investments (a venture capital firm). Crystal Horse invested S$25,000 for equity in Spawt around seven years ago at my very first "startup." They demand monthly reports and repeated subtle signaling that if we were to raise the next tranche of 250k, we have to grow at ___ pace. As a 25-year-old who has fetishized myself to Paul Graham's startup porn, I worked dumbly hard and accepted this to be the norm. Besides pressure and a pittance of money, Crystal Horse Investments offered nothing more but a recipe to failure.
And yet I went for it because
- Startups should raise money!
- And spend the money to hire a team!
- So when you run out of money, you have to go back to the VCs again and beg, each time increasingly destitute
Naturally, all the power goes to the Vulture Venture Capital firms.
Then I got lucky and built a product for myself, a VPN to watch porn because hey the government blocked porn. I released it publicly, and that went viral.
With recurring income (a lot more than S$25,000), I realized I have a runway that will never die, so I made two hires, and I started tweaking Gom VPN for growth, and when that didn't turn work out, I pivoted many times to products focused on growth.
Like, Javelin Browser, an Android browser that hit 1M downloads in a few months. Hey! It grew fast! I met Tim Draper and some partners at Andreesen Horowitz, and these veteran venture capitalists began quizzing me on the business model and financial models. But, but... What happened to fast growth?
There lies the problem with "startups." This proverbial unicorn-startup-valley thing fed an unhealthy stereotype to poor blokes like myself because I thought if I worked hard, I would make it like every other Silicon Valley CEO of 3 employees.
What the scriptures and hype pieces do not say is how much dumb luck is involved. Every profitable product I have built has a significant portion of luck (and timing).
So, I hate startups.
Nubela is a software company focused on profits. We still intend to grow fast, but that is just one of the many variables that will make Nubela a successful company.
Nubela is not a startup.