I'm starting a business


He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. - Friedrich Nietzsche (opens in a new tab)

I'm starting a business.

I don't have a name, I'm not exactly sure what we'll even be doing, but it's happening because I've extended an offer to someone to start in April. Talk about a forcing function.

This should be nerve-wracking, but I feel surprisingly calm. As I mentioned in my previous post, I've felt ready for my next level-up and this is it. Each of my previous level-ups worked due to unwavering confidence, and I expect that to be true here.

What I do know is that this business will, in part, be a product studio with an expected focus in language-learning apps.

The space is massive, and there are still long-tail terms with low search difficulty that I plan to target first as a wedge.

I'm starting from a place of frustration with the existing options today. I've tried Duolingo, Memrise, Drops, HelloChinese, LingQ, you name it.

There are only a handful of apps that I still like or use, eg HackChinese. Because they focus on one aspect of language learning, and do it well.

I have a variety of ideas for the space, some that are closer to HackChinese in simplicity and utility, so we'll be starting there since they should be quick to launch.

And fortunately, we're both passionate about language-learning so we'll be able to dogfood our own products from the getgo.

This might be foolhardy, but I'm optimistic. After all, how hard can it be? (opens in a new tab)

Why I made a hire instead of going solo


  1. Solo can be demoralizing.
  2. There's accountability.
  3. We can share responsibilities and learn from each other.

But I also think that with my style of working, I'm best off collaborating with someone. I can focus on prototyping, distribution, and partnerships, and then we can cooperatively iterate as needed.

I also had a wonderful experience collaborating with said person previously, so I'm confident in this having a strong multiplier on our output.

The real con is obviously the financial cost, but more on that below.

How this'll stay alive

I'm approaching this responsibly, in that I have >1 yr of runway set aside from personal funds.

And that assumes 0 revenue which is already not the case as I currently have a few clients.

Ultimately, client work will extend our runway.

To me, this is a worthwhile sacrifice to stay bootstrapped while we release experiments and build out product revenue incrementally.

While I could seek investment, I'm not looking to build something venture-scale but a lifestyle business where we can scratch our itches.

I also like to consider the advantages:

  1. We have low overhead, so we can consider significantly smaller opportunities.
    • venture-scale companies are looking for billion dollar opportunities.
  2. We have time freedom, so we can be patient and avoid burnout.
    • high growth isn't required.
  3. We don't have sizeable external stakeholders, so we can build in any direction we like.
    • even if it's less profitable than an alternative that is less fulfilling.
  4. We're small and lack beauraucracy, so we can be nimble.
    • eg using the latest AI tools as they come out to maximize leverage.

Final thoughts

This is going to be a huge undertaking, but I feel mentally prepared.

I'm starting something serious sooner than I expected from my sabbatical, but a few dominoes fell into place that spurred me to act now. And I'm honestly energized about this anyway.

Overall, I believe the most important things to making this succeed are:

  1. A willingness to try a lot of things that will mostly fail, without fear.
  2. Being excited about what we're building, because it'll solve problems that we have and hopefully others too.
  3. Stepping up and strengthening my non-technical skills so that we can accelerate sales and partnerships.
    • I consider myself as doing well with people but I'm an introvert, so I need to grow out of my comfort zone the way I do when I travel.

Stay tuned!

Last Updated: Fri March 1 2024



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April 7 2024

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