The next instalment of our blog series spotlighting Founders’ Stories. Every now and then we’ll talk with an up and coming entrepreneur or leading mind in our industry about their journey so far, sharing failures and successes they’ve learned along the way.
For most of us, taking the first steps and building upon just one idea we’ve had to start our own business can take a whole lifetime, never mind the challenge of building 12 in the space of a year. But that’s exactly what @levelsio has challenged himself to do – he’s building one startup every month to learn by doing, starting with his latest product Go Fucking Do It – an app that makes you strive to reach your goals or pay a fee.
We probed @levelsio to share what he’s learned so far. Get ready to take notes.
Tell us a little about you and levels.io, what are you up to?
At levels.io, I talk about my life, my travels and the things I make. In late 2012, I graduated with a master’s in Entrepreneurship and since then I’ve been building my own stuff. My biggest success until now has been the Panda Mix Show, which is a YouTube show network which features DJ mixes by electronic music producers. It’s received over 100 million views to date and has 350,000 subscribers on YouTube. I’ve now automated most of it and hired a friend to do the rest, giving me more free time to work on new projects.
My current objective is to build 12 startups in 12 months (levels.io/12-startups-12-months). I want to build, launch and see if I can get product-market fit in a month. By definition, most of these will fail. But I’ll only know if I execute. The idea is that by doing it twelve times, I’m bound to find something that works and scale it up to a real startup. Time will tell if that works out though, haha! It’s scary!
What’s your big dream of what one of these startups might one day become?
Well I’m already living my dream now I think. I’m independent, work for myself doing what I love and have enough income to pay my bills, travel and save up. My bigger dream is to continue doing this in the future, scale everything up, reach more people and have more successful projects. Rinse and repeat really! :)
What or who inspired you to get where you are today?
I’m inspired by the possibility that in this new time, the internet can empower people to build their own thing. Then if they can get people to pay for it, they have the power to create their own life, not one scripted by society. I might be idealistic but I think that the natural way should be that people execute on their passion and do what they love. Every single day. With the internet, I think that’s become possible for many people now.
If I look into the future, I think the majority of business will be like that. Small websites, apps, or whatever form they’ll be like in the future which provide a certain (automated) service which people pay for. That’s huge.
Any lessons learned or pivotal moments along the way?
Yes! I’m not a sports guy, but the most important lesson would be just that. Exercise. The lifestyle of doing your own thing (either as an entrepreneur or freelancer) is inherently stressful. You have no idea if you’re ever going to succeed. On top of that, unlike with normal careers, there’s no pre-defined framework of success here. So that can scare the f**k out of anyone. To counter that, working out in the gym, swimming or whatever physical activity you like (or least hate) is beneficial.
What one piece of advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs and changemakers?
Stop talking, start doing. Talk is cheap. There’s A LOT of hype and bullshit in the startup scene. All these blog posts giving you tips on how to succeed etc. Guess what, there’s no shortcuts. Stop looking for them.
Don’t procrastinate by going to meetups and events everywhere. They’re good if you’re there for a reason (promoting your product and learning a skill). But if you want to build your own thing, just start building! These days you really don’t need anything more than a $300 laptop (e.g. a Chromebook), your internet connection, a $5/m web server (e.g. AWS or Linode) and an idea to execute on. These are exciting times, use the opportunities it gives to your advantage.
I just built GoFuckingDoIt.com to fix this! It forces you to stop procrastinating and achieve your goals by making you pay if you don’t. I challenge everybody here who’s been putting off launching their startup to go do it or pay $50 ›› http://j.mp/1g3AGnK
Stop procrastinating and just go build your ideas. If you can’t code, learn to code. It’s a huge challenge to get something off the ground and be able to sustain yourself from it. But it’s also super fun, even more so when it works out!