I came across this amazing story yesterday and wanted to share it with you, given our theme this year – turning side projects into communities, products and companues. Matthew Mazur built a startup while on active duty in Iraq, which he later parlayed into a role at Automattic. I was interested to learn that the US military actively encourages hobbies or side projects during downtime, which makes a huge amount of sense.
You may one day find yourself in a position where you’re eager to work on a startup but limited by the amount of time you can put into it due to a day job, family or other obligations. In this post I would like to share with you all the story behindLean Domain Search, a domain name generator that I built in about 45 minutes per day during a 5-month deployment to the Middle East. If you’re struggling to find time to put into your startup, I hope this convinces you that you can accomplish a lot over time by putting a small amount of work into it each day.
As for answering support requests from the field, well that’s pretty staggering.
We worked 12-hour days every day for the entire deployment including weekends. I need roughly 8-9 hours of sleep to function at full capacity which left me with about 3-4 hours at the end of each day to have a meal, exercise, shower, chat with my wife, hang out with my coworkers, unwind and maybe work on my side project. In practice, that usually was about 45 minutes per day. Sometimes more, but often not at all.
Fortunately, there were never any major issues with my other projects during the deployment. A few small bugs surfaced, but nothing that impacted many users. I still had access to my email so I could respond to support requests when I had time. And because I was working on the new domain name generator locally on my laptop, I could work on it without worrying that there would be issues in production
I take my hat off to Matthew. He really exemplifies the urge to create and maintain things. His post is well worth a read.
If you’re considering working on a startup but can’t make the leap to do it full time for whatever reason, remember that even a few hours per week can have a huge impact in the long run.
Stick with it. Amazing things can happen.