I want to briefly look back in order to focus on looking forward.
I don’t believe in re-litigating or revisiting the past so much that is takes up considerable effort and time, especially in comparison to planning and implementing what is to come. While the past provides insight, the past cannot be changed, and so I must take what I have learned into the present looking toward the future.
What Went Well
Here is a quick list of what went well:
- Building a product
- Listening to developers
Building a product
In 2023, I began development of Polaris in earnest. This was my first step into bootstrapping a startup. Building a product is both exciting and challenging. And, as you can imagine, the idea of building your own product is incredibly exciting. I mean - after all - you’re finally getting the opportunity to build something by you and for you. You get to own the outcome, the benefits, and the failures. I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly thankful I am to my co-founder Mike, and countless others, for going through this journey with me.
Listening to developers
I enjoyed talking with and listening to developers this past year. As the saying goes: “Developers, developers, developers.” 😆
While I had spoken with colleagues, mentors, advisors, friends, and family about the concepts and ideas we had for building Polaris, I learned a lot from talking to developers. I also learned how to talk to developers about Polaris - what resonated and what did not. Finally, I learned what problems and challenges developers most identified with - either lack of observability or a lack of usefulness of the existing solutions.
Consulting continues to be a reliable source of revenue. I am thankful to the web development community. Participating and engaging with the community is a source of enjoyment as well as a source of revenue. Working alongside talented software engineers, architects, and project managers was both fulfilling and fun.
What could have gone better?
Cash is indeed the lifeblood of a business. In 2023, I invested approximately $100k into Polaris. This took a toll on my personal and family budget, and frankly, our lifestyle. Bootstrapping a startup is hard. From my experience, there is no other way to describe it. While I ran the race of bootstrapping a startup in 2023 I intend to shift from a posture of sprinting to long distance.
Starting a startup in 2023 is like buying a timeshare at the start of a pandemic. Well, maybe not quite, but perhaps you get my point. 2023 was an extremely difficult year for startups. From a market perspective, 2023 had the lowest global funding in the past 5 years.
The velocity of development that I achieved on Polaris was low. For me, the product development achieved in 2023 was considerably less than I had originally expected. Did I mention that boostrapping a startup is hard?
What is next?
- Long distance
I am reminding myself that the only measure of success in business is playing the infinite game. I spent much of my reserves this past year, so I need to focus this coming months on building for the long distance. This will require financial and time prudence. The goal is to focus on the core: building a product that people want.
Going into 2024 I intend to shift energy toward my own self-care. I value physical, mental, and spiritual health.
I intend to pursue technical, economic, and personal challenges.
Technically, I want to continue to learn and overcome technical problems. This may look like building product features that are difficult. This could also look like learning new technologies and languages.
Economically, I want to challenge myself to invest financially in what I value - investing both in my present and also my family’s future.
Personally, I want to challenge myself with physical exercise, mindfulness, and prayer.