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- Solopreneur Rollercoaster: From $1 to overcoming depression
Solopreneur Rollercoaster: From $1 to overcoming depression
After making my first $1 online, I sunk into depression and quit everything.
Everything changed after making my first $1 online in the summer of 2018.
I started to believe in a world where I could work solo, pay the bills, get happy customers, and have no constraints whatsoever. Total freedom.
But I didn’t know the price to pay... Here’s my solopreneur rollercoaster.
Estimated reading time: 6 min 34 sec
Growing a SaaS
After making my first $1 online in 2018, my Korean girlfriend and I had no reason to stay in Seoul anymore. We’d rather be somewhere hot and cheap. So we moved to Bali in September.
I was working on VirallyBot: a gamified marketing tool for escape room businesses, priced at $199/month. A typical day would be:
Marketing in the morning: Collecting leads and sending cold emails. I tried cold calls but it was not working for me.
Product in the afternoon: Adding games and features while learning how to code.
We lived in Canggu with 2 roommates
Life was good. I was not living in a bugs-infested room anymore, I learned how to surf and the SaaS was making $1,500/month.
But churn was high. To earn money with my software, escape rooms had to use it. Most didn’t.
I felt like on a treadmill: New customer, new churn. So I offered a yearly plan for $1,999 and got some sales. My revenue hit $3,000 in early 2020. But I was just running faster on the treadmill.
So I built a new product called GameWidget: An embedded mini-game on websites to entertain visitors and offer discount coupons.
Winners of the game get a discount coupon for the escape rooms
Same market (escape rooms) and same strategy (gamification marketing) but different fulfillment. Instead of using the software, my customers just had to add a script to their sites and let the magic happen.
I beta-tested the product for 2 months and the results were impressive: +0.6% conversion rate (3% is considered great in the industry). I was excited.
When COVID hit in March 2020, all escape rooms closed. My revenue went to $0 in a week.
I was fortunate to be in Bali because I met Hugues who became my best friend. We spent 6 months surfing empty waves and talking about life.
We surfed 6-9 feet waves in tandem
Just like my girlfriend, he never judged me—I could show him every weird side of my personality. Thanks to them, I stopped caring about what others think of me.
In the summer of 2020, my girlfriend and I decided to get married. We flew back to France. My Korean parents too. The wedding was wonderful. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go back to Bali due to COVID restrictions. We lived in Paris with my parents and sisters for 1 year.
I worked on my previous SaaS and got it back to $1,000 MRR, but something was off. I didn’t like it anymore, so I quit.
After a few months of nothingness, I had to start something new. Anything. So I launched The Golden Plumber in January 2021. Males often dribble after going to the toilet, due to the nature of our engine—as my sister explained (she’s a doctor).
Entrepreneurship at its peak
I created an info-product (2-page PDF) and ran ads on adult websites. I made $8 in 2 months. I quit, again.
My parents gave me $100,000 as an early legacy. I invested everything in Tesla in March 2021, when the stock hit an all-time high. I refused to use the money for at least 10 years. I still believe it’s not mine.
2 weeks later, my portfolio went down by -$36,000.
I was 27 years old, broke, and living with my parents. A recurring thought started to echo:
I am a failure…
On Wednesday 9th, June 2021, while drinking a morning coffee in my bedroom, I started to cry. Sadness turned to anger and dug 4 holes in the wall.
It’s not common to see a 27-year-old boy crying in his mum’s arms on the sofa. But life isn’t like movies. I needed a change, a big one:
Quit entrepreneurship and get a job.
Within 2 weeks of applying as a software engineer, I got an interview. At the end, the HR asked: Do you want to say anything to Tai Lopez? It wasn’t written on the application, but it was a $9,000/month job offer to work for Tai Lopez. I accepted.
I started reading. I thought I hated books because it was boring in high school. It turned out to be my favorite activity. My first book was “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker. It changed my life. I realized I was tired without knowing it. Fixing my sleep unlocked more motivation, happiness, and less anxiety.
While I worked for Tai, I also learned Korean. 1 hour a day, 6 days a week. 3 months later, I could have a conversation with my wife.
My mood improved every day. I was growing, and I finally had a sense of purpose.
In October, we went back home to Bali. I got fired in November 2021.
But it didn’t matter. I was so inspired by Pieter Levels building startups in public that I went back to entrepreneurship. I had a new dream.
What I would tell myself if I had to restart again
Money can’t buy product-market fit: When I worked for Tai Lopez, we launched 3 apps and spent thousands of dollars on marketing. None made money.
Don’t link your revenue to your customer success: My friend Dan was right—you can’t control how people use your product. They often get busy.
Small actions today will compound tomorrow: When I quit working on GameWidget, it was making $80 MRR. I sold it for $4,300 in 2023.
Make sleep your #1 priority.
Get married: It creates a strong sense of commitment. We’re in the same boat
Call your friends: My best friend Hugues passed away in 2022. I wish we spent more time together.
Be whoever the fuck you want: Don’t let anyone make you feel weird or wrong.