EP22: Paul Farnell of Litmus on building a startup in a college dorm (part 1)
On the show today is one of the best bootstrappers in the business: Paul Farnell of Litmus.com joins me and shares some great stories.
“My parents didn’t want me to have a games console; they wanted something that I could create things on. My first computer was an Amiga.”
“I was inspired by my dad. I started publishing a magazine myself, and distributing it in my middle-school. We even sold annual subscriptions! (mostly to teachers, because they had more money)”
“When I was 12-13 years old, I started building different software products. The first was “Instant Theme Creator”. It sold for $19 (although it was always advertised for $29). It was listed on Download.com”
“I’ve always liked the validation of someone finding enough value in something that I built they were willing to pay for it. I didn’t want to just make a magazine that people would read, I wanted to make”
“There are so many hacks that we technical people do every day. We don’t always think that if we could create systems for other people; make these hacks into products” – Justin Jackson
[Did you enjoy business school?] “No. I didn’t enjoy the courses (or find it applicable). But it was time well spent: because I had the freedom to build Litmus.”
“I was so impressed with the design, usability of 37signals.”
“I built the first version of Litmus in a weekend. It was initially called SiteVista.com. It was running a couple of old desktop machines in my dorm, on the college’s internet.”
“It was incredibly exciting to see people using the product. You would literally see customers using the product, because they were testing web pages on the screens underneath my desk.”
“It did cause some trouble: my girlfriend would get woken up by the machines under my desk.”
“We programmed the original app in VB script.”
“We launched with under 100 people.”
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