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I’m a slow learner and a so-so programmer. My main source of income, like most lurkers of hackernews, is riding a desk for a software company. I’ve changed companies a few times. I can scrape together a Leetcode medium or two, and I’ve said some of the right things, to some of the right people, at some of the right times. I now find myself at the high end of my role’s pay band. After ten years, I’ve gained the rank of “senior”, though most days, I still feel the hot breath of imposter syndrome on my neck.

Despite my moderate level of success, my goal in 2023 is to make $500 more.

Not because my wife cut my allowance and not because in the market for a new PlayStation (@Sony, sponsor me plz). It’s because after a decade of peering into the RGB void, I’ve come to realize that outside of my W2, I haven’t made a single dime off a line of code I’ve written.

I’ve gotten pretty okay at building other people’s castles. Now I want to see if I can do something for myself. This is me taking a baby step towards divorcing from corporate shillhood and running away with the sultry mistress of being my own boss. By 2033 I want to retire and spend my summers in Tulum and my winters in Telluride. But in 2023, all I need is $500 in MMR. Gotta start somewhere.

I’m a serial non-finisher. Maybe it’s adult onset ADHD. Maybe it’s years of scrolling infinitely through internet garbage for little hits of dopamine. I’m currently sitting on a graveyard of failed and abandoned projects so large that if re-animated, would be enough clap Sauron’s cheeks and take back middle earth. So why is this time any different?

Six months back, I stumbled on a blog by the brilliant Neil Thanedar, where he introduces Mittlestands. I was somewhat shocked to learn there was a middle class for startups. Even though I’ve owned a (non-tech) small business and worked at startups, it never occurred to me that startups could be small businesses. Only after reading Start Small, Stay Small did it click for me. You don’t need to be VC funded or on the front page of TechCrunch to enjoy success as an entrepreneur in tech. This might seem laughably obvious to some, but for me, it was truly a paradigm shift.

My information diet has shifted as of late to stories about passionate developers building small, singlehanded projects and finding a way to market them to generate passive income. I’m done sitting on my hands. I’m getting in the game, and I’m taking you with me.

My approach:

Until now, I’ve tried to think of cool things to build without ever considering if anyone would pay for them. Hacking together a program in Rust to leverage the ✨ magic of AI ✨ to more efficiently feed my cats is cool and all, but I’m focusing now on hacking my process. Starting with a goal to turn a profit and hone my skills as a micro-entrepreneur is a novel approach for me.

One goal, three steps:

  1. Identify a niche market.
  2. Design a product to fill a need within that market.
  3. Profit $500 or more in 1 year.

Don’t blog about it, be about it:

Yep, I agree. However…

I like it. It’s fun. It also cultivates a sense of accountability I feel I’m lacking. Lastly, it allows me and others to reflect on my progress and failures along the way.


That’s it for now. Time to get to work. Feel free to tune in or drop some knowledge on me if you have some to share.