It was 2011, and I was on top of the world. I was a 19-year-old solo founder with millions in the bank. At first, everything was great. We grew the team. We stayed focused on our product. Monthly revenues were climbing. But after four years, there was just one problem: our numbers weren’t doubling fast enough to satisfy the venture capitalists who had backed us in the first place. We tried everything, but eventually I had to lay off three-quarters of the staff - including many good friends.
I couldn’t stay in San Francisco, so I moved to Provo, Utah and kept Gumroad afloat on my own while I figured out what to do next. I went back to writing and painting, and that reminded me why I had built the business in the first place. I loved to create! When our lead investor offered to sell ownership back to Gumroad for $1, the future came into focus. I could start again and grow the kind of meaningful business focused on creators that we always should have been.
In February 2019, I published a Medium essay, “Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company,” that struck a chord with millions of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs who, deep down, would much rather build a sustainable business like Gumroad than chase a VC-backed unicorn. I wrote The Minimalist Entrepreneur and created the course to help anyone design, build, and successfully grow their own right sized business. Now, let’s get to it!