In the flurry of work, challenges I didn’t anticipate, etc., I’m just now, months later, getting back to my ‘regular reading hour’ in the morning – and today?
Jackpot! And I couldn’t wait to share
First article that caught my eye in my Pocket news line-up was this one story from WIRED, Dated January 19, 2019:
He Wanted A Unicorn. He Got…a Sustainable Business
Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia’s VC Startup to Sustainable Business journey
My fave line?
But, Lavingia says, he felt a responsibility to the sellers on Gumroad. “We were processing $2.5 million every month. Creators relied on that for rent, student loans, mortgage. It seemed wrong to tell thousands of people ‘Hey, because I want to try something else, you’re going to lose this monthly check that you’re using to pay your rent.'”Wired, 01/19/20 – author Klint Finley
Obviously, if you know me at all, you are thinking, “Oh, I bet TamrahJo fell for that line like a ton of bricks” – and you would be right!
So of course, I had to follow the link to Sahil’s story on Medium….
Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company
Medium Marker, by Sahil Lavingia on February 7, 2019.
There were two areas that really grabbed my attention, and got me own ticker tape parade of observations/ideas, enthusiasm rolling….
[From the “Failing in style” section:Processed volume increasing]
It doesn’t look too bad, right? It’s going in the right direction: up.
But we were venture-funded, which was like playing a game of double-or-nothing. It’s euphoric when things are going your way — and suffocating when they’re not. And we weren’t doubling fast enough to raise the $15M+ Series B (the second major round of funding) we were looking for to grow the team.Medium Marker, Sahil Lavingia 02/07/19
You are all aware of my biased, prejudiced feelings about VC/Wall Street – i.e. high-stakes gambling – when they win, they win big and sometimes the everyday life of many improves too – but often, everyday folks lose big, and they still win – one way or t’other….
Of course, I assimilate the above via me own little filters and the above becomes, to me, a line that somany know, but few readily acknowledged out loud in our overall hyped up cultural story….
The article continues through (ahem) another of my fave themes…the Hero’s Journey mythology – if you are a Joseph Campbell fan or Star Wars fan why not read Sahill’s journey and then let me know if I read it wrong – to me – um, yup! Hero’s Journey! Textbook!
The hero reaches the stage where they simply wake up, do what needs be done, all while battling their own dark thoughts in attempt to find a creative path forward
See? His story has all the hallmarks of a mythic legend – 🙂 I do so love when I come across a modern Hero’s Journey in all it’s glory – 🙂
A spark – a offer – a light at the end of the tunnel – someone offers a deal, that gives them what they want….and…
The hero, well versed in perspectives, ideas, options, given his period of try, try yet again – realizes – YES!
Yup – you really want to go read his full story now, don’t you? I knew you would….. but I had to wax eloquent on the beauty I saw within it, first –
If me writing prose doesn’t convince you, maybe these lines from his story will:
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.Medium Marker, Sahil Lavingia 02/07/19
Without a fundraising goal coming up, we’re simply focused on building the best product we can for our customers.Medium Marker, Sahil Lavingia 02/07/19
And finally – you wonderful open-source WordPress community….
Soon, we’re also planning to open-source the whole product, WordPress-style.Medium Marker, Sahil Lavingia 02/07/19
Yes, I signed up to get notices from his blog on his journey – (you’ll find the link at the end of Sahil’s article…)
I took a cruise through the Gumroad website – and while they may move on a future trajectory that puts them in direct market competition with WordPress, I think perhaps not –
And here’s why I’m seriously looking at this as a ‘tool in toolkit’ to help those who come to me for advice, guidance, etc, at looking at Gumroad for selling their creative works –
You skipped to this heading…didn’t you? :). That’s okay – your time is precious too!
What happens if you, as a creator, take the power of WordPress world and combine it with the tools & community of Gumroad for selling your works?
What happens when, simultaneously, your work lands in front of other creatives that share some of your ideals on overall how the world should work, and choose to support that model & reaped benefits from it…
Folks who, in fact, experienced how it really does work, and oh – how we all wished it worked just a tad or a lot differently?
What happens when you take two companies, each with a dream to fulfill the early promise of the internet, when today, so much of the internet is careening off the rails and being taken over by entities that play by VC/Wall Street rules, i.e.
Go Ginormous or Go Home? That’s my two choices? Really?
Maybe I don’t want to go Ginormous – Maybe I want to have a simpler life, earn my living by contributing in ways that brings meaning and joy to my life and to others – maybe I don’t need or want a jet, gourmet dinners or 50K bottles of wine…
Maybe I figure there won’t ever be a Universal Base Income, nor will I ever retire or live long enough to fund such a thing….
Yes, I know – WordPress.com and WordPress.org is a robust ‘market place’ – full of free, low-cost, some-cost, high-dollar services that really make websites shine in both design and functionality…
However – the more mature & robust…the more tools to assess, choose from – the increase in conflicts between the tools – the increased security hazards, conflicts between the tools and time spent to learn each of them, troubleshooting or time on chat support….
I’m living proof of that change – :).
Are you a website guru?
No? I don’t consider myself one either – I learn more constantly – I recently tried to stretch my skills level to help a friend that had turned to me because help was not to be had for love nor money elsewhere and though out of my range of current skills, over a nearly 9 month period, I read, researched and finally thought, “Maybe I can stretch enough to get this done…”
And I failed – and kept trying long after I should have just said, “I failed” and explored options earlier.
In the end, it turned out as good as it could- I learned a lesson I had forgotten and didn’t lose a friend over the whole deal – I’m holding a small line I already know how to hold, to give them time to find the right person – not ideal, not what I wanted for them and their dream, but best I can do at this time and they graciously accepted it as good enough until we move on…
So I know and have lived through the increasing numbers of people who reach out to me have who have been left between two choices – get a $14,00-$25,000 loan for website OR learn to do it themselves –
In other words – Go Big or Go Home
And Hurry! – Seems rather paltry of a choice, right?
Thank goodness it wasn’t VC turn around/time frames else the Great Pyramid or other grand monuments wouldn’t exist – 🙂
They could hire staff to do for them – but again, outside the scope of their independent or small business, or non-profit or small town government, labor budgets –
As in everything else where ‘folks are getting left behind’ I have watched it steadily happen here in my local world, too, slowly since 2011, exponentially since 2016 – even with WordPress.org open-source framework and bevy of free themes/plugins
Many tools/marketplaces exist for the independent creative, crafter, author, designer, etc., and so many of the tools and/or marketplaces are like the ocean to the creative’s grain(s) or bucket of sand – –
I will post any follow up information/observations as I sign up to at the very least, keep apprised of Gumroad’s journey –
Be a dear and leave a comment if you are on Gumroad or thinking about moving there – as always, I’m curious and most of my community sphere here is full of creative, get ‘er done folks who might benefit from your perspective, as well – 🙂
Take care and catch you on the flip side 🙂