When he mentioned this in his painting class, people found it funny.
They said — “You run a profitable business, do the things you love, here you are learning to paint at 2 PM on a Thursday afternoon. How is that a failure?”
Reflecting on his Failure💭
“Talking about failure in Silicon Valley is like talking about football helmets.”
Everyone acknowledges that helmets aren’t good for you, but nobody openly talks about them. Nobody has the courage to be the one person to stop wearing them in a game. Everyone is just doing it because everyone else does it.
When Sahil did publish that blog post in February 2019, many people reached out to him to thank for him writing that post.
They offered support and admitted that they did not know what he was going through during the tough days of Gumroad.
Sahil thinks running a venture funded startup is like running on a hamster wheel.
Growing for growth’s sake, at all costs.
He hears of founders sleeping just 4 hours a day and tells them they are slowly killing themselves like this.
Sacrificing their physical and mental health to run a rat race.
A race that will eventually only end when the company gets IPO’ed or acquired.
And even after an IPO, the company then competes with every other investment vehicle out there.
That’s why he thinks Amazon is on such a path. They know growing fast is the only way they can sustain those revenue numbers.
Sahil is quick to admit, that he isn’t pretending that his failure is some form success.
Instead he is content with the kind of work Gumroad is doing right now.
He doesn’t think he is the next Steve Jobs or the next Henry Ford. He is happy making Gumroad the best experience for the creators —
“Instead of pretending to be some sort of product visionary, trying to build a billion-dollar company, I’m just focused on making Gumroad better and better for our existing creators. Because they are the ones that have kept us alive.”
He also admits, the his goal of building a billion dollar company from back in April 2011 was completely arbitrary.
“For years, my only metric of success was building a billion-dollar company. Now, I realize that was a terrible goal. It’s completely arbitrary and doesn’t accurately reflect impact.”
Lessons from Gumroad👨🏫
Why Gumroad works as a business—
It’s a tool that does what it says. It’s not a visionary product like the iPhone or the Tesla.It’s a SaaS product that helps creators make money online. And does that job well.
Creators can relate to it. Gumroad’s customers can see the company failing, trying and succeeding.Much like themselves. They see Sahil Building in Public from much before it became a trend. They relate to the company and are loyal supporters of it.Some are even investors in it.
It plays fair. Gumroad doesn’t take a 30% cut like Amazon. It knows its customer well and charges them appropriately. Which brings more indie creators on to the platform
Why Gumroad works for Sahil
It makes him Happy. It’s the perfect balance of selfishness and selflessness for him. He can have the lifestyle he wants while also having the impact he wants on the world.
He Can Create value. Sahil is more interested in creating value than capturing value right now. With Gumroad he can create value of indie creators from across the world. And it’s a verfy fulfilling experience.
This quote perfectly captures the sentiment
“… aligning selfishness with selflessness. It’s figuring out what I can do that makes the world better but also makes me happier?”
Final Words of Advice for Indie Hackers🤗
Sahil wants Indie Hackers to build stuff and be prolific —
“I think the most important thing is to build stuff, to start small and figure out what you want to build and honestly, a lot of people aren’t going to know what they want to build so just like build something, as small as it is. Or maybe not even build something, just ask the people that you love in the communities that you care about how you could make their life better.”
He is wise beyond his years, there’s plenty to learn from him for all of us.
Follow him on Twitter where he drops pithy truth bombs like —
“The best co-founder is luck”
“Life is a series of distractions from existential dread”