In 2016 I thought seriously about quitting my job, getting some freelance work, and trotting the globe. So I took the plunge without quitting my job. I build a mobile app and a back-end for a small design shop for a decent chunk of change. But it ended up being a nightmare.
There were a total of 22 revisions after I had submitted a functioning product to the agency. 22 times I wrote code, then sent it over for review and they sent back changes they wanted to make. It took months. Sure there were a few bugs which got ironed out but it was mostly that the client didn’t actually know what she wanted. It took me a total of 4 weeks to build the initial version and a total of 4 months to finally get paid. Nightmare.
I tried a few smaller projects. Help me train this machine learning model, help us architect our product, etc. They all ended up more or less the same in that I was working far too many hours for far too little.
I made some classic mistakes as a young freelancer and got burned. My total hourly rate after all the turns for the mobile app was roughly $12 an hour. That’s not bad in some parts of the world but it doesn’t cut it living in LA. So much for that remote life. The work became soul-crushing and after a while, I made the choice not to take freelance work anymore. If they weren’t a close friend, I wasn’t going to write code for them. I have friends that work at agencies or who freelance and find it fulfilling and actually like that the projects change frequently enough to not get bored working on the same project for a long time, but that was not going to work for me. I had to find another way.
Throughout the past 10 years or so I’ve launched close to 50 experiments. Experiments ranging from a landing page with a sign-up form to full-stack, enterprise-grade applications. I’ve only had three hits. 3 out of 50.
Here’s a brief list of my “swings”
- Trottr — dog walking app
- Repped — Email blast for Models and Actors to get representation
- WhatsHot — Heatmap over google maps to show where people were actually out at night
- FlyingYak — A social network for digital nomads
- Float — Social media management
- A blockchain auditing company
- Software Development Consulting
- Fixed price machine learning models
- a mental health chat application
- a marketplace to buy / sell machine learning models
- a video streaming service
- an iot blockchain
- a docker container marketplace
- https://autobox.dev — a tool to auto-generate machine learning data
- https://ligit.dev — A marketplace to sell commercial licenses
- https://k8ty.io — An iot management platform
- a blockchain version of spotify
- blockchain analytics company
- sassify — turn any project into a saas
- githunt — product hunt for open source code
- https://sugarkubes.io — A marketplace for software developers to buy and sell code.
Which ones worked? One was an enterprise saas company I’ve been working at for over 4 years. We’re just now starting to make money. Another was the dog walking app. This was back when mobile apps were new and Uber for x wasn’t even a thing. The final one was SugarKubes.
Let’s assume the probability of finding a hit (some kind of product/service that makes money) to be 1 in 10 or 10%. This is a long-held, reasonable assumption that 90% of startups fail. That means to have a high likelihood of success, you should launch at least 40 experiments. (0.9⁴⁰ for a 98.52% chance of ONE of those 40 actually working) If this sounds like a fund or a portfolio, that’s exactly right, it is.
The reason I wanted to point out these raw numbers is to show that it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work to find something that is a viable business. Moreover, a business you actually want to run. I’ve had a few that made money but would not have brought me the kind of lifestyle I wanted because I just didn’t like the work, or the customers, or the industry.
I think SugarKubes workes because it’s a hack. For whatever reason, it’s easier to get attention for a lot of small things than it seems to be for one big thing. The problem I’ve always had though is that all those small efforts sat in a vacuum, they never rolled up to a single product or service that grew over time. That’s why SugarKube works. It’s a lot of little projects, all individually worthy of a product hunt launch, that all roll up into one place; an effort that compounds over time.
So what does this mean for you?
I want to open SugarKubes up to other freelancers and developers looking to sell code or otherwise monetize side projects that don’t get traction or don’t work for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which may be the developers' intention or ability to sell the product or service after it’s built. It’s working for me and it will work for you too. It’s going to take a few products to list on SugarKubes to get started but our combined marketing efforts will compound. A kind of rising tide that lifts all boats.
If you’re interested in learning more, hop on over to SugarKubes.io to learn how you can start monetizing side projects and other modules that others can easily integrate into their products or services.