Indie Startup Manifesto

Eugene Woo
3 min readApr 24, 2018


Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash
Indie Startup Manifesto. Created using Venngage.


I hesitate to call myself an indie entrepreneur or my company an indie startup. Indie often evokes an anti-mainstream sentiment, of not conforming to commercial tastes and popular culture, as in indie film or indie music. Sometimes, people equate an indie startup to a sole entrepreneur, as popularized by the term, indie hacker, or a “lifestyle” business which comes with the perception being limited in ambition — these are people who are content making some money and doing what they love (which is an incredibly hard thing to do IMHO). Regardless, the common thread with what people think an indie startup is this: it’s not a real scalable business that can be compared with other venture backed businesses.


So what does being independent mean for an entrepreneur or a startup? True, there is the technical difference of not having raised funding* from venture capital. But I think independence runs a lot deeper. It’s a completely different set of values.

Last November, I was lucky enough to be part of an Indie Founder’s field trip at Wistia, organized by Bryce Roberts. There, I met with other like-minded entrepreneurs, all building profitable businesses with over a million in revenue (a few with tens of millions). We talked about our challenges, things that mattered, and our shared values. I left invigorated.

As a software developer who started his career at the dawn of the “Agile” movement— I go back to the Agile Manifesto again and again as a reference to how something so transformative can be articulated in a few simple sentences. I will try to do the same with my version of the Indie Startup Manifesto. Many of these value are what “real” businesses just do. Many of these ideas have been written about by the founders of Basecamp (Jason Fried and DHH) and Bryce himself. Yet, there is power in repetition and in saying it in a few simple sentences. So here you go:

There is a better way for entrepreneurs to build businesses. We run independent, growing and profitable businesses. Through this experience we have come to value:

1. Mission over exit

We are purpose driven and focused on realizing our mission over a long period of time instead of a quick exit.

2. Customers and employees over investors

We create value for our customers by helping them solve real problems. We value our employees by helping them grow and learn.

3. Profitability over valuations

We are real businesses — we make more money than we spend. We are responsible for our own financial sustainability.

4. The right size over relentless growth

We scale at our own pace. Lifestyle businesses are ok. Slow is ok. We are no less ambitious or any less determined.

5. Doing the right thing over “it’s just business”

We do not compromise our ethics or humanity for the sake of “business” or growth.

If you’d like to support this manifesto, please clap and share. Don’t agree? Please leave a comment below and we’ll discuss.

The manifesto graphic was created using Venngage’s Newspaper template.

If you’d like to create your own manifesto, check out some of our list templates.



Eugene Woo

CEO of @Venngage. Making data and design fun. #Indiestartup entrepreneur.