Turn your side project into a company. Introducing Weekend Build.

Ryan Hoover
Jul 14 · 4 min read

Sometimes the most impactful companies begin as a side project, driven by curiosity and experimentation. That’s how Product Hunt started nearly six years ago. Side projects are part of the inspiration behind the name of the fund I started two years ago: Weekend Fund.

Side projects have been a part of my life since childhood, largely inspired by my supportive entrepreneurial parents. I sold candy at my parent’s video game store, built a (ugly) website of jokes from the internet, and resold electronics on eBay. Each project taught me something new. A few funded my gaming budget. 😬

At Product Hunt I’ve seen tens of thousands of makers launch their side projects to the world. Some become incredible companies. One of today’s most valuable companies had humble beginnings: Apple. The near-trillion dollar company started as a project inside Steve Jobs’ garage in Mountain View and shared with fellow tinkerers at the Homebrew Computer Club well before it was clear the mainstream wanted a computer.

Of course, there’s no right way to start up. Some start lean. Some don’t. But we’re excited about side projects for a few reasons:

  • They allow people to explore ideas that might seem silly, tapping into unfound market opportunities.
  • Side project builders are often inspired with a strong desire to solve a personal problem or explore a space they’re deeply passionate about. These intrinsic qualities make building more fun and motivating to pursue long-term.

There are accelerators for nearly every stage and company focus, but we believe there’s a gap in the market for side project makers. Our bet: Many of today’s side projects can become big businesses with the right support and resources.

“What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years”

Chris Dixon

At Weekend Fund we want to help more companies get started by giving talented, ambitious people the nudge and support to turn their weekend hobby into their full-time focus.

Our findings

Our exploration of this idea started with a tweet. Over 300 people building side projects responded to our survey resulting in nearly 9,000 data points. Here are a few of the the most interesting findings:

56% plan or want to quit their job to work on their side project full-time and another 29% are considering it. We were surprised to find that the majority respondents wanted to turn their side project into a company.

Nearly 50% of side projects are making money, albeit small amounts with 95% generating less than $5K/month. This is higher than we expected and signals that side project builders may be more motivated to generate revenue early on to gain financial freedom, extra cash, or simply cover operating costs.

81% have never applied to an accelerator and 86% have never tried to raise venture capital for their project. Yet money is by far #1 factor prohibiting builders from pursuing their side project full-time. Either they’re not confident to make the jump yet or there’s a large hole in the market.

52% believe their side project could grow into $100M+ companies with the right help and resources. People working on side-projects are thinking venture scale. Of course, founders (me included) are often very optimistic but this signals a self-belief that’s needed to start a company.

The Weekend Build experiment

We’re running a 8-week experiment with a small group of people that are serious about turning their side project into a company. Our goals:

  • Help people make progress quickly to a point when they’re ready to turn their side project into a company.
  • Build trust and accountability among an ambitious, creative group of founders around the world.
  • Improve outcomes by introducing builders to some of the world’s strongest operators to gather feedback and assistance.
  • Support in all the other business building activities that go into operating a company.

If this resonates with you, apply to be a part of our 8-week program by August 11. Anyone around the world is welcome to participate – we’ll do everything online including our weekly Sunday stand-ups over Zoom.

Have questions? Check out our FAQ or drop me a note at ryan@weekend.fund.

Looking forward to seeing what you all are building. 😊☀️

P.S. When we say experiment, we really mean it. Our goal is to learn how to be most helpful to future founders and like any good MVP, iterate quickly like a product.

P.P.S. Thanks to all the founders and investors that shared their feedback on this experiment leading up this announcement. We appreciate it.

Ryan Hoover

Written by

Founder of Product Hunt. Weekend Fund investor. Follow at @rrhoover.

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