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The Parable of the Indie Hacker and the Startup Founder

A Silicon Valley Startup Founder was on vacation in Bali, at a cafe, and he noticed a woman on her laptop with her screen split between a Stripe dashboard and Indie Hackers.

On the dashboard he saw a solid revenue stream around $3K in MRR and slowly growing. The Startup Founder complimented the Indie Hacker on her revenue achievements and asked what she was working on, and how big the team was.

The Indie Hacker replied, “It’s a niche SaaS app for engineering teams that use Ruby, and it’s just me working on it.”

The Startup Founder then asked why she wasn’t trying to expand beyond the Ruby niche and grow even more?

The Indie Hacker said she had more than enough to support her lifestyle.

The Startup Founder then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Indie Hacker said, “I sleep late, blog a little, go surfing, work on fun side projects, and go trail running every evening with my boyfriend to catch the sunset, before heading back into town to have dinner with my friends. I have a full and busy life.”

The Startup Founder scoffed, “I’m the founder of a unicorn startup with backing from YC, Sequoia, and Andreessen, so I think I can help you.”

“You should spend more time working so you can increase your MRR faster. With the increased revenue, you can hire an engineer and focus entirely on sales. As you scale up your revenue even more, you can hire a salesperson too. Eventually you can scale it up into a bigger organization with product teams and sales teams. Instead of selling to just the Ruby niche, you could expand to multiple programming languages, eventually selling to all engineering teams.” he said.

“Of course, you would need to leave Bali and move to San Francisco, where you can raise funding from some VCs and get the best engineering talent.”

The Indie Hacker asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the Startup Founder replied, “Probably about ten years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Indie Hacker.

The Startup Founder laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you can announce an IPO, and sell your company’s stock to the public and become very rich. You could make many millions, maybe even a billion!”

“Millions – then what?”

The Startup Founder said, “Then you could retire and move to a nice island where you could sleep late, blog a little, go surfing, work on fun side projects, go trail running with your boyfriend on evenings to catch the sunset, and have dinner with your friends.”

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