Texas outline

May 2021

12 Startups in 12 Months

Way back in the halcyon days of September 2010, I threw my hat in the ring for the first Ludum Dare October Challenge, where a bunch of hobbyist gamedevs built indie games in public, for a month, with the end goal of getting them out for sale before the end of October. The idea was to turn a bunch of hobbyists (i.e., us) into professionals (i.e., what we wanted to be) -- and if the definition of a "professional" is "someone who gets paid for their work", well, all we had to do was make a game, release it, and earn at least $1 from it.

Fast forward to 2020, and even though I've been out of the games industry for almost a decade (I did, in fact, win my own personal October challenge) that idea of the October challenge has stuck with me ever since. After leaving Palantir (I was, ahem, fired -- let's not mince words, there) I spent the next year getting, well, basically nothing done. I kept Quail ticking over, responded to a zillion bug reports and requests for help, and generally kept things on an even keel. But no new projects really made it out into the world.

Turns out being fired, even from a job you hate, can really knock the professional/creative stuffing out of you. Who knew?

But from March 2021, that's changing! To kick myself back into entrepreneurial thinking I'm setting myself a possibly-unrealistic goal of launching 12 projects in the next year, one per month from April 2021 until at least April 2022. I'm two months into this meta-project, and so far I'm two for two:

  • in April 2021 Chris and I launched Sandpiper -- an inventory tracking tool for people who hate inventory tracking.
  • in May 2021 I conceived, built, and launched Saascast -- a neat little tool that shows you your Stripe dashboard, but from the future.

...and so far I'm on track to ship Donel.ist in June 2021 -- a place to throw away your TODOs and track your done list (sneak peek at a public list here: donel.ist/u/doches).

Are these amazing business ideas? No, not really. Are they flawlessly executed, investor-ready products with product-market fit and a knockout marketing story? Of course not. But designing them, building them, and getting them out the door (plus marketing, feedback, maintenance, &c) is forcing me to work out muscles that I've let atrophy for far, far too long. Forward to 2021 -- let's mint some new Founders, shall we?