Recession Proof: Gumroad is growing

I assumed all businesses were leveled and I got depressed. Then I started hearing about a few companies who are doing well. I wanted to understand why and revive my optimism.

In this interview you’ll hear how the sudden economic hit and the forced home isolation led would-be creators to finally start creating. They’re using Gumroad to sell their work online.

Sahil Lavingia

Sahil Lavingia


Sahil Lavingia is the founder of Gumroad which helps creators sell products online.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy. And you guys know, I was pretty down for a bit there once we were told that we had to stay at home here in San Francisco. And I remember looking at my kids and saying, “What is going to happen to them? And then what’s going to happen to me? And then what’s going to happen to me and how does it affect them?” And it’s just like this whole spiraling that I stopped thinking about work. And if I did think about work, it was, “Things are going to be really bad. What if I just accept that things are going to suck for a long, long time, and worst case, Livi and I just go and live off somewhere and disappear for a bit.”

And then I did a few interviews with people who happen to do well, in fact, even a little bit better when things got worse economically for the country, and I asked them about and I learned a little bit. And more than that, I started to feel really good. A little bit of my optimism came back, and then I did a tweet where I said, “Is anyone out there doing better now than they were before, not to brag or anything, but just to give us some hope?” And a few people reached out and I have been just electrified by the fact that it is still possible to do well in this environment. And I’m starting to pick up on some trends that maybe Sahil and I can talk about, but one of the people who I know is doing well was Sahil Lavingia. He is the founder of Gumroad, has been on Mixergy several times.

And what Gumroad does is it allows creators to sell their creations online. So, if you’ve got a digital book like an eBook or a video, you can sell it. If you’ve got a physical book, you can sell it. If you want to do subscriptions, you could sell it. Even if you want to do pre-orders the way that other platforms allow you to do it, they make it easy to sell. I think to say, “You could sell it,” is almost taking the magic away from Gumroad. There’s something special that I’ve like interviewed Sahil for years and asked him, “Where the hell does it come from?” Because I don’t know. It’s just the design of the product to the experience is just beautiful.

So I invited him here to talk about why he’s doing better now, why his platform is growing, and to see if we can learn a little bit of something for it and have more of that spark of optimism that I had in all of us. And so he’s here. We’re going to talk about how Gumroad is growing, what he’s seeing. I already said that. Let’s tell you about the sponsors. I’ve got HostGator for hosting websites. Toptal for hiring developers. Sahil, good to see you.

Sahil: Good to see you. Glad to be back.

Andrew: Give me the numbers. We’re recording this like right at the tail end of March. Do you have a sense of where March compares to, say, February? March is when things went really downhill economically for the country.

Sahil: Yeah, Gumroad, we’re up around 20%, I think we’ll be up over February.

Andrew: Over February. And February’s revenue was?

Sahil: February was around, revenue-wise, we’re around $550,000, I think.

Andrew: $550,000 overall revenue, and you guys get a cut of that. And then number of creators, has that grown too?

Sahil: Yeah, yeah. That’s reaching all-time highs, and it’s a lagging indicator. So, actually, our creative growth is probably more than 20%. We went from 500, 600, 700 people adding products in January, February to now over 1,000 a day. So a big jump.

Andrew: Over 1,000 people a day are uploading something to be sold on Gumroad versus how much, 500?

Sahil: Yeah, I think at the beginning of the year, we were doing I think probably 550 a day or so.

Andrew: Wow. And when you say $550,000 revenue that’s your keep or . . . No, that’s your keep.

Sahil: That’s ours, yeah.

Andrew: They’re doing more than that.

Sahil: In GMV we do . . . In February, we did around 8 million in March. Last 30 days, I can tell you the last 30 days have been 9.4 million, so March will probably be a little bit more than that, maybe around 9.6, 9.7 million.

Andrew: Got it. Okay, and you’re keeping over . . .

Sahil: Which we never have done before ever, really.

Andrew: So I was asking you before we got started, is this just happenstance as things just growing and you’re noticing trends that are feeding into new creators coming on the platform. What’s going on?

Sahil: Yeah, So we started noticing a little bit of an uptick, just in general, I think, compounding effects. But that took us to 500 a day, which was like probably twice as much as we were doing a year before. But in the last three months, I think, mostly due to people’s . . . I think there’s a combination of things, three things. I think there’s creators staying at home, potentially getting laid off, like it might not just be a work from home thing for them. Two, consumers staying at home, people needing to consume content. And then three, just like people being more open to making money in different ways, right? [inaudible 00:04:47]

Andrew: Right.

Sahil: . . . that are teachers or educators, workshop people, researchers, writers, painters that typically have like sort of a diverse set of income streams, and a lot of them have seen, you know, 50% plus of their client work, for example, cancelled. A lot of these people make . . . They might be artists, but the way they pay their bills, is there an illustrator for hire, or they do editorial or they do freelance. And so a lot of those have dried up for a lot of people. And so they’re still creative people, they still have ability to produce, and a lot of them have audiences. And so I think Gumroad allows them to sort of monetize in a more direct way.

And I think the other trend we’re seeing is, I think maybe the growth that we were going to see over the next year or two is happening within like a compressed timeframe. Because there all these people, we’ve noticed this a lot, where people hear about Gumroad, they might be familiar with it. But unless they’re ready to like package something up and sell a product, there’s a lot of work required in doing that. I think my guess is, there all these people, thousands of people that were familiar with what we were doing and creators using the platform, maybe they’ve purchased products on Gumroad before, but when they started hearing about like, “Oh, this economy might not be great for a while,” I think it’s a lot easier for them to be like, “Okay, fine, I’m going to sit at home on Saturday for a few hours and actually figure this thing out.” [inaudible 00:06:16]

Andrew: When the economy is good, it’s a luxury to earn some money on the side and it also is feeding maybe some people’s need to have a side gig or be entrepreneurs. But when the economy’s bad, you have to earn money on the side, there’s a sense of urgency that wasn’t there before. And if they were evaluating, if they were considering, maybe they had a couple of things built up, now’s the time for them to come on the platform.

Sahil: Exactly. I think that’s a huge amount. I mean, we’ve noticed this over and over again, that when sometimes Gumroad was almost like too easy, everyone would create an account and it would just sit there idle. And then we added like 10 bucks a month and that gives that sense of urgency of like every month. So this is kind of like that to an extreme, right?

Andrew: The fact that they’re paying 10 bucks a month means you got to create otherwise cancel. And you’re paying, so you should just create. And so these people are actually creating things. What’s the velocity to creation, do you know?

Sahil: We’re seeing 2000. I think today was the most we’ve ever seen, it’s like 2,400, 2,500 products added to Gumroad. So we’re seeing a pretty large velocity. It’s hard to say, are these new products that people are making explicitly for this purpose? Or are these things that people had on their hard drives and they’re like, “I should go sell the stuff that I have now.” But definitely, I think we’re seeing an uptick. And I think also, just anecdotally, there’s just more buzz about, not just Gumroad but other platforms as well. And a lot of creators, when people lose that sort of in-person community that they might have in different places, they come online, right? And so I think they’re on Twitter, they’re on Reddit, they’re on Facebook, they’re talking about, how to make an income, like they’re asking questions, and they’re typically asking these questions like a very public way.

So I think just the amount mentions that I personally get on Twitter, that Gumroad gets . . . I think we did this webinar this morning, 600 people plus signed up for it. And that I don’t think is purely like, “Oh, people are just so excited about learning about Gumroad for an hour,” but I think there is like a lack of community for a lot of people. I think a part of it is like, “Oh, I can listen to two human beings talk about a thing that I care about.” And so I think if we would have done this webinar, like three months ago, we would have had 100 people, maybe.

So I think there’s just like . . . I mean, I feel it in myself, like I want to hear people’s voices more, I want to talk to people more. I don’t think I have like this newfound addiction for the internet. I just think I need all this social interaction that I used to get in different forms, like at my barista, eating lunch out with a friend or whatever. I think just like collectively we’re all seeking that in different ways. And so I think providing that sense of community that we’ve been able to do over the last year or two since I wrote that viral Medium post that started to kind of coalesce groups around it, I think people are like, “Oh, this is a place I can go and I can be part of Gumroad and that’s going to give me a group of people that I can hang out with online now.”

Andrew: I am noticing that I’m looking for more online community than I was before. I’m someone who’s not as needy for it because I get it through my interviews. And I prefer in-person but I just found myself sending an email, a text message to a couple of friends saying, “How about we do a double date Saturday night via Zoom? You open up a bottle of wine at your place each of you with your wives, I’ll do the same. We’ll sit on the couch. We’ll talk a little bit and then we’ll move on with our nights. I don’t want to make it into a long thing.” And I would never have done that.

You’re smiling even as I tell you that. I’m feeling weird as I say that, it feels douchey but it’s a thing I need. I kind of want to hear even like all the things we’re not supposed to do that we’re doing during this lockdown and crisis. Sometimes even just hearing that, I don’t know . . . Like, I was texting them about this and they said, “Yeah, we’re drinking basically every night anyway, so we might as well get together.” And these are some pretty like uptight people who don’t tell me strike me as people who drink every night. I like that. I want that. I get it. I see.

Sahil: There is that feeling of being on a cruise or a boat or at the airport where like some of the social norms that we have kind of dissolve.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sahil: It’s like, what day of the week is it? What time is it? Yeah. Definitely it feels like we’re in this kind of weird limbo and almost like the purge. Like everyone gets three months off to just go crazy. Not in any profound way, like no one’s going to go out and murder anybody, hopefully, but just like you can kind of try things that maybe . . . You can kind of almost try out different personalities that you have.

Andrew: Like that’s going to happen once we’re out. I’ve talked about how I remember walking my kids to the grocery store and then saying, “I can’t take them in. It’s just a madhouse in there of desperation. It stinks.” And as I walked my kids back, I said, “I should just say something to them because they’ve got to be freaking out.” Got a five and a three-year-old, I knelt down and talked to both of them. And I started to tell them, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay.” And as I was going to say, “Going to be okay,” I couldn’t finish that sentence. It just got stuck in my throat because it just suddenly hit me, “What are we doing? Where are they going to be?

And if I try and then break down in front of them, that’s the opposite of what I’m trying to do to them, which is just show them that it’s going to be . . . That we could solve this, that it’s not a big problem. I don’t know. And then I got them home. I set them up. I went to the grocery store on my own and then I came back and as I look towards the coffee cup, I started to cry. I was like, because it all hit me at once, “What are they going to do? They’re not going to have friends to play with for a little bit. There are all these restrictions now coming up. Who knows what’s going to happen to us, to me and Olivia? Who’s going to take care of them even if we’re sick and recover?” Like all that stuff, and it just hit me at once.

And then what happens if like I screw up completely at work, and Olivia does and the whole thing falls apart?” It just, with no order in my head, it just all hit me. And then I realized, “Well, I better just get things together and go face them because I don’t know if they’re seeing where I am.” I wonder if you had that. As someone who we talked before we got started, you don’t have kids, your business is doing well. Have you had that freakout moment or are you just . . .

Sahil: I mean, I had a couple of them. Like I feel like I had the big one, like the sort of midlife crisis moment in 2015 when we did the layoffs and TechCrunch wrote about it. And that was . . . I had packaged all of my identity up into being like a hotshot startup CEO and that crumbled. And I felt disconnected and I didn’t know like what the future looked like. And I think that’s a huge part of anxiety, is just not having a clue.

So much happiness I think comes from being like, “Oh, I’m going to be able to do this in three months or this weekend or this Friday night.” And I think we’re . . . I mean, I definitely am sort of getting through that grief factor. With coronavirus happening, I think the weird thing is, I was talking to somebody else about this like, there’s so many things that as a culture we look forward to that are no longer there and I think people haven’t really comprehended like why. I think people are feeling sad but not really able to express why that is.

And so I think it’s important for people, even for myself to be like, “There’s probably not going to be like a great movie for a long time.” I love movies. I love “Parasite,” “Get Out.” I love watching great, great, great movies and going to the theater and watching movies and just being . . . I think part of getting over this stuff is being like, “If I want to watch a great movie, there are great movies out there, I just have to go into the archives.” Because there’s not going to be a great . . . Since Pixar’s “Onward” came out, there’s probably not going to be a theater release movie for who knows how long, we don’t know. But I think if you don’t really acknowledge it, it’s a big deal.

And I think running Gumroad helps me a lot, I think because I get to participate in the creation of new types of content that creators are making. And so I think that’s kind of how I try to channel that anxiety is to say, “I can help filmmakers and musicians and artists and teachers and educators and mathematicians and scientists and standup comedians, like produce content that fills a void for a lot of people and fills also sort of that void of community that people I think have right now as well.”

Andrew: But do you feel that because you’ve gone through a worse personal crisis, it made you a little bit stronger for this situation? It’s not . . .

Sahil: In days I felt or maybe months like an unrecoverable state of failure. Like I had all these people . . .

Andrew: Back then.

Sahil: Yeah, back then. I was like, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to not be a failure after this. Like all my employees, all my friends, my parents. I mean, my whole high school class, like, how can I show up at a high school reunion?” And when I got on the other side, now I’m like, “That was the best thing. I wish I had told people sooner.” Frankly, one of the best things I ever did for my career was write about that. And so I try to look at this the same way which is like, “We’re probably going to survive. I don’t know exactly what the world’s going to look like in a year or two. But we’re almost definitely going to make it to the other side.”

And at some point, I think kids are a great example of this. They have these crises in their life when they’re four or five years old and it’s like to them the world is ending because like, literally, like that’s their world where like half of it is just destroyed when like a girl says something weird or mean to them or something like that.

Andrew: Not at that age but I get it. At that age it’s more like it’s if you build something with Lego and it’s broken.

Sahil: Yeah, like something snapped in half or whatever, they get grounded or something. And so I think, as an adult, you’re just unfamiliar with that feeling. But kids experience it all the time. And they get through it and they get through it and I think it’s just the same thing, which is just like knowing . . . In a year or two years, five years, we’re going to look back and be like, “That happened. Do you remember?” It’s going to be like a bonding thing. It’s going to be a thing that a generation of people have to talk about for the rest of their lives that maybe like two generations in they might not even remember.

Andrew: Like 9/11.

Sahil: 9/11 is a great example.

Andrew: We got stronger. You mentioned a specific company before we got started that’s in the movie industry. Do you feel comfortable talking about them and why they contacted you, even if it’s not by mentioning their name, if it’s . . .

Sahil: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . something you could say.

Sahil: Yeah. It’s called Magnolia Pictures. They never said that it was private, so we’ll see. Should be fine. I’m a pretty open person so I feel like at this point, anyone that interacts with me on my personal Twitter channels, I’m like, “You’re comfortable.” But yeah, they reached out. They’re an old Gumroad user from a long time ago. And they stopped using Gumroad years ago, three or four years ago at least. And they emailed me and said, “Hey.” Or actually they just started using the platform and then they had a question about it and emailed me about it. But they said, “Hey, we work with all these independent theaters that are basically closed, like they can’t do anything right now. And we want to help them do independent direct to audience distribution online.” So basically doing an online theater which is [inaudible 00:17:47].

Andrew: Let the theaters take the Magnolia Pictures’ movies and put it online?

Sahil: Yeah. I’m not super intimate with the industry, but the way it typically works is that theatres are the ones that basically license the movie to show. And so I think they’re doing a deal. I don’t know if that’s exactly how they’re doing it but basically Magnolia is going to work with the theaters. And each theater I think, has their own newsletter and email list and all these sorts of things, Twitter as well. And do sort of copromotion of these independent films that they have.

Andrew: So what you’re seeing is that they’re exploring ways to publish online and to sell online which is not something that they would have done before. Now, Mark Cuban has tried to do it before, but he couldn’t get any . . . Mark Cuban I think is the co-owner of Magnolia Films. Am I right about that?

Sahil: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Well, I think so. But they are thinking now, “How do we go online?” And this is what you’re seeing. It’s an indication of how more and more people are trying to go online.

Sahil: Yeah. In general, I think people are dealing with sort of an existential threat, or even a potential existential threat for many groups. And we worked a lot with music, publishing, and film as our sort of three traditional verticals. And we had a brutal time talking to Universal, Sony, Magnolia even because you’re dealing with these teams, they have bosses and bosses and bosses. And frankly, when things are working well enough, it’s really hard to say, “Hey, you should try this totally new platform.”

We worked with [inaudible 00:19:22] on “The Martian” and we did all sorts of experiments and really tried. But it’s just hard. It’s hard to get someone to do a really risky thing unless, I think in the environment we’re in right now, where a lot of these businesses are struggling. Even back in the day, the most success we had was in the music industry, because I think that was the industry that was the most sort of existentially threatened. And so I think we’re seeing that in every industry now. Independent theaters, music festivals, film festivals, events, teachers, musicians. A ton of creators and creatives, they monetize via some event or some social in-person thing and they can’t do that anymore.

Andrew: All right, let me take a moment and talk about my sponsor and then come back in. I’ve got notes here to talk to you about past layoffs. I asked Hiten Shah in private about you. I told him I interviewed you. And he said, “Oh, there was something that I wish I could ask him.” And so I said, “I wish I’d asked you Hiten before the interview that I did with Sahil a while back.” Now, I’m going to get to ask you and so much more.

This interview is sponsored by HostGator. Let me ask you this. I’ve been asking my guests this question. If somebody wants to start a business now and they have nothing but say a HostGator account to get started with, they could host lots of different platforms, including just plain old WordPress for content or WordPress and Wufoo for sale. Is there something that you would recommend that they get started with or a direction that you would give them?

Sahil: Especially in this environment, I would say start writing. WordPress is a great . . . I love WordPress. And so I would recommend starting a blog, starting an email list and figuring out what you really care about. And if you lack community, like, who would you want to talk to, and start writing for that group of people and sharing that content through social media, through Reddit, and through Facebook groups, however it is. And that’s how I got started in my career, was writing a blog and posting on Hacker News. And so whatever the equivalent is for the audience, like, I would do that, for sure, especially right now.

Andrew: All right, if you’re out there, and you’re looking to get started, go to By throwing that /mixergy at the end, instead of just going to plain old HostGator, you end up getting the lowest price that they have available. And in addition to that, you get all the features they already offer, which is unlimited email addresses, unmetered disk space. I’m not going to go through the features because inevitably, I’ll say one word wrong. Like if I say unlimited when I should have said unmetered, there’s an issue, seriously because there’s regulation about what they’re allowed to say.

And so I’m not going to give you the features. I’m just going to tell you go create. And frankly, if you hate HostGator, then go create with someone else, but this is a good opportunity to take that energy that you got inside you and go make your first version, even if it’s crappy, even if it doesn’t work. Do what Sahil said to me the first time that I interviewed him, I asked him at the end, “What do you think the headline of this should be?” He said, “Shut up and ship.” He was so good at doing that even from an early age and that sticks with me through him.

So go on there, create a site, shut up and ship. If you don’t like it, cancel it, and move on. But what you’re going to find is that it’s a lot easier to build the second one than the first one, and by the time you do the fourth, it’s just going to be a snap, you have an idea and it’s up and running faster than most people put it in whatever dock Notion or Evernote or whatever they’re using. Go do it right now at

I might as well bring up the thing that Hiten asked. He said, “I remember for a while there, Sahil was tweeting out photos of his art.” What were you doing? Watercolor, I think.

Sahil: I was doing oils.

Andrew: Oils, excuse me. So you were tweeting up photos of your paintings. And then suddenly you went like, “Bam,” one sentence that just blows your mind. And it’s like tweeted and retweeted by people who are good thinkers, who are actors, who are doers and so on. And then another and another, and another and another. And then here’s my stats, and here’s what’s going on. And here’s something that’s really vulnerable and I can’t believe I’m sharing it, but I have no issue, I’m sharing. It’s like, boom. He wondered what happened that turned . . . Where was that turnaround from that one person to a new person?

Sahil: Oh, man. So I know at least the time frame it happened. That was late 2016. And I was at home in Singapore, visiting my family and I was talking to my mom. I don’t know if we went into this before but I was talking to her about what had happened, and my friends and other people. And I just felt like this disconnect with what was going on in my head with what people thought was going on in my head. Like I think people thought I was a painter and I was just bumbling around Utah, which I was in large part, but I was still thinking in my head. And so I wrote that that post on Medium that went viral. I think 700,000 people have read it at this point. And I think what started out first was I wrote this thing and it was it was kind of like, I don’t know, for me like a kind of like a capstone on . . .

Andrew: But this was the one that you did at 2019, February, about a year ago, where you said, “Look, I wanted to be a Rockefeller or Bill Gates, I ended up being a lot less. I’m okay with it now, but it’s tough to admit that I’m not what you thought I was.” So that was the turnaround when you finally said, “I’m going to write it down”?

Sahil: So that was the first one was when I just wanted to sort of correct the record for my friends and family. And then that blew up and all these people followed me on Twitter from that, and then I, one, I was kind of surprised by the reaction to that. But then also what happened was I had all this stuff that didn’t make the essay, right? Like I had 3,000 words of cut content that I edited but it just wasn’t the right fit for it. And so I said, “Oh, if people are interested in this, I have all these followers, like I can tweet out all these little snippets of content that I have, these sentences, one by one.”

And so I started tweeting them out. I just went to Twitter and every morning I would tweet just one at a time every day. And almost every single one of them went viral. And I don’t know if that was like Twitter noticing that I was this new, I don’t know influencer account or something like that. But I think a lot of people probably read that piece. And I was not only getting like these little thoughts out there, but I was adding to a thing that they’d already read. So I was like adding more and more layers and context.

And I think that really drove a lot of the engagement. And it really was like . . . I think shut up and ship is a thing that I would still try to listen to because I think it’s hard to share that, it’s hard to be vulnerable, but once you do it one time, like, after that point, I was like, “I have nothing to lose. I can talk about . . . ” There’s all these thoughts I have in my head that like for example, I tweeted, like being an early employee is like financially kind of stupid. And that was like a thought that a lot of people have in the industry and I’ve had conversations with but no one had share that online. And I said, “Well, what do I have to lose? I’ll just tweet that out.”

And then, you know, Paul Graham got in a little spat with me and which was great for me, though definitely it was stressful in the moment. But then after that point, I was like, “Okay, well, I said that. What else can I say? And if Paul Graham rips me to pieces, what’s worse than that?”

And I think it was just that and then just training yourself to kind of think in that way. And also just having that essay. I was having conversations with founders and I would find myself repeating something to two or three or four or five people. And like I was talking to a founder last week and he’s going through layoffs and he was talking about how he was hiring the wrong person. And I said like, “One of the mistakes a lot of people make is they hire someone, and the first thing they do is they hire more people. And that’s like a big red flag.” And he was straight up, he was like, “That is tweetable. Don’t hire people that hire people. Like that’s a mistake.” Obviously, not all the time but if I heard that that would have been really useful for me.

And so a lot of it is like having these conversations with folks and learning in public. I think I get sharper because I throw some stuff out there that’s probably not perfect. And then people will say, “Hey, dude, you messed up on this,” or you . . .

Andrew: I think that happens to everyone. The part that’s amazing is that first of all, it’s brilliant and then it’s gets summed up into one sentence or two sentences. I am looking for specific examples. And it’s really hard out of context to point to that and say, “Here’s the one brilliant thing.”

Sahil: Yeah. [inaudible 00:28:06] . . . comes up a lot in conversation is I said something like, “San Francisco is like a college, where people come, they network, they get credibility, they learn a lot, and then they bounce.” And that’s, San Francisco is going to turn into a college town, basically. And I think, for me, I always try to find like two ideas that are not normally in the same sentence and try to link them up. Like to me that’s gold.

Andrew: Here’s one, confidence comes from having recovered from failure. Big tweet. Let me see. 1.2 thousand likes, 257 retweets, a lot of responses. There’s a bunch like that. And it’s you sitting down and saying, “What do I think and then how do I condense it in a way that has two opposing points of view?”

Sahil: Yeah. So, normally, I’m circling an idea for a long time, and I just have to kind of . . . I come up with a sentence that’s normally like two or three . . . It might be a paragraph of a thought around failure and confidence. And I remember that one was I was talking to a founder about like, how do you have the confidence to make certain really hard decisions? And I said something like, you basically make the decision and then you over time learn that that was maybe the wrong one, but you were able to recover from it. And with painting, this is the other thing that I think is key actually, is when I can see the lesson apply in painting as well as startups.

Andrew: Really?

Sahil: Yeah. Because to me, when that can happen, one, it means there’s a much larger audience for the tweet because now it encompasses painters as well as startup people, which is why I think that San Francisco tweet did super well. Politicians got involved and journalists were interested in local stuff. But then also, like it proves that an idea is universal and has maybe more broad appeal.

So, for example . . . Actually, I remember that tweet, I was talking to a painter one time. And I noticed that some of the best painters I’d ever seen work had the worst paintings in the beginning phases [inaudible 00:30:18]. They would just throw paint around and just do weird stuff. And I was like, “How can you do that, it looks terrible, for hours, but you know it’s going to look amazing at the end. How do you know that?” And they’re like, “Well, because I’ve done it before.”

You talk to writers, some of them . . . Pixar has a famous thing where like, they say that every movie breaks halfway through and they have to fix it. And they have to like figure out a new ending and really . . . And the only thing that gives you the confidence to be able to do something like that is having done it before. And so when I find an idea like that, that has like painting and startups and filmmaking and then I have to basically get rid of words because like any word that is specific to startups, I can’t use. Any word that is specific to filmmaking I can’t use and it whittles it down. And if I can whittle it down enough, and it still contains the core sort of resonant idea, then I tweet it out. And sometimes it’ll get like 3000 retweets. Like Hiten retweeted this one. I said, “Not taking risks is risky,” kind of same idea. But it’s like, how do you find that universal idea that a painter could see that and be like, “This must be a painter I’m talking to.”

Andrew: I do notice that you’ve got followers who are artists and creators, and then followers who are total startup people who are just into that ecosystem. And now I get how that helps you to have them both together. Speaking of like the failure leading to confidence, you mentioned that you did layoffs, and that was in TechCrunch. You told me before we got started that the past layoffs that you did helped you deal with this situation where others who are now trying to do with the fact that the economy is going down, and hopefully it will recover, eventually it will. The people are potentially getting sick. And at the same time they got to deal with their company and how they have to cut back. And that’s a tough decision to make. And you did it. What was it like for you? And then any advice for people based on that?

Sahil: Yeah. It was hard. I mean, I think part of it was one, just acknowledging. I think I struggled with the dissonance of running a company because as a venture-backed company, you still have employees, you still have an office. You’re doing all these things, even though your unit economics might not make sense, or they might make sense, they’re just not at the right scale to support the team that you have. And so just the dissonance of like, seeing the top line numbers continue to grow, but knowing that in nine months, if things stay the same, you’re going to have to do a round of layoffs. I think just once you get to the point of like, “I am going to have to do this. I am going to have to lay people off,” like getting on to that point, as soon as you can from when you need to do . . . Going from I think to I know, I guess, is really critical. And that was one of the first things I learned. John Lilly from Greylock told me this, he said that, “One of the marks of a really great CEO is going from I think this person might not be a fit to letting them go within 24 hours,” because first time founders really struggle with being like, “Oh crap, I hired the wrong person.” And they’ll go weeks and months potentially making excuses for that. Firing somebody is so difficult.

Andrew: So hard.

Sahil: So difficult.

Andrew: Is it because I didn’t communicate well? Is it that they just need a little bit more time to ramp up? All those things. And now we have to go and start over another search. You know what I’m talking about.

Sahil: Yeah. But really, the truth is, the reason doing it is so hard is, I think, probably because you know you need to do it and now you’re trying to like get out of it in a way. And so I think the first thing was like, when we realized we had to do the layoffs, I was just like I told the team, “We don’t have to do it yet but if nothing changes in nine months, we’re going to have to do layoffs.” And so basically, I put like a big sign on [inaudible 00:34:14] like, “This many days until layoffs.” And so when that sign, kind of figuratively hit zero to everyone, it was like a natural progression, and so that helped a lot.

I think getting it on TechCrunch, like I personally would not have done that myself if I had the choice. But when it happened, it just gave me the sense of freedom of like, “Okay, well, the thing that I was scared of happening has happened. What’s after this?” And so I think, for example, if you’re a travel company, and you’re down 80%, 90%, revenue year over year right now, if you can make it through by the end of this year, you will almost definitely have an amazing year next year.

Nassim Taleb talks about surviving and thriving. And so like, a lot of people are obsessed with how to thrive and not enough people are just focused on like, “Well, first you have to survive.” And if you survive, 9 out of 10 of your competitors won’t even be around in a year to compete with, and thriving is going to be a lot easier and actually just living, just being around is a huge indicator of success. Just not dying, I think is a . . . Humans are so far quite good at that. And so . . .

Andrew: At surviving.

Sahil: . . . a big lesson for me was just like, “How do we just not shut down?” That’s the number one job that a CEO has, is to . . .

Andrew: But then aren’t you worried about being one of these zombie startups that all these venture capitalists talk about?

Sahil: Yeah, 100%. We kind of were for a while. Like we kind of were a zombie startup. And to me, the way I justified it was getting into painting, getting into writing, saying, “Hey, look, maybe we’ll be a zombie startup. But for the next year I’m just going to . . . I’ll revisit that idea in a year or two. I’m just going to focus on myself, focus on traveling, focus on . . . ”

Andrew: And for now almost, it seems like you said, “I’m going to enjoy the fact that I’ve got a salary coming in from this zombie startup so called, but I’m going to use that and develop other parts of myself.”

Sahil: Yeah, I think it was really just appreciating what I had, really figuring out, “Okay, what does this get me that maybe I didn’t have before.” I was working 60 hours a week for five years with a team and on call all the time. And now I was kind of free in a different way. And then also, I think it just like, over time gets you to think about like, what really matters. When you don’t have a team you’re talking to all the time you’re spending a lot of time in your head like a lot of people might be right now and you have to [inaudible 00:36:52] kind of dealing with your own psyche at a rate that I think like I was not used to. I’d sit at home or three or four hours being like, “What do I care about? What’s important to me?” Like even just traveling, it’s like, “Where do I want to go? Why do I want to go there?”

Andrew: Was that a positive thing? For me, I don’t do well in that environment where I have to sit down four hours and think, “Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? What do I want to do next?” I just end up with nothingness versus talking to someone else or pushing to do something, then I end up in a much better situation. I don’t know if that makes sense. But I don’t do well thinking it through on my own endlessly, or at all, even for four hours.

Sahil: Yeah, I mean, I do think there is a . . . I struggle with it as well. And it’s a lot easier for me to be like, “That’s where I need to be. Like I’m just going to go and race to that goal.” And that was one of the nice things about doing a venture-backed startup was like, “All I need to do is raise more money.” But sometimes, I don’t know . . . It’s good to push yourself in different ways and really spending 9, 12 months and almost being resigned to the fate of a zombie startup like, “Okay, look, if this thing just flatlines, I’m going to stop user signups and it’s just going to go on autopilot for the rest of eternity.” That’s kind of what I told myself. And then once Gumroad started to kind of pick up and pick up and pick up and I wrote that piece and now we’re seeing a lot of growth, at least to me, it was like, “I wrote it off.” You know that feeling like sometimes in movies like there’s that character that like has a near death experience.

Andrew: Yes.

Sahil: And they’re like, “I’m all in now because I consider myself dead. This is all gravy now.” [inaudible 00:38:34]

Andrew: I had that too. That totally does it for me too. I had that situation where I thought, for sure. I went from having money to losing it all. And then bouncing back and I felt . . . Olivia will ask me a lot of times, “Why don’t things bother you?” Because it’s so small compared to that. Even like, the work situation, economic situation, I’ve been worse. I was $5 million in debt as like a 20 something year old with nothing to show for when I was exhausted. A dirty diaper’s nothing in comparison. Give me like a pooped up diaper, I’m fine.

Let me talk about my second sponsor. And then I want to ask you what you did to turn things around. I want to ask you about something personal that I got your permission for before we got started. And then advice. Like as somebody who’s now doing well, what advice do you have for people who are going into this difficult situation. I never ask for advice bur I’m kind of curious. I’m curious because I do feel like you’re a guy who went down into the pit and came back up and you’ve seen something.

Dalton Caldwell, the guy who created in meme and now is a partner at Y Combinator. He just did this blog post where he said, “I’m going to talk to my 2008 self who was about to do stupid things because the economy was going bad. And I’m going to talk to him and say the things I wish somebody had said to him and maybe someone else will listen to this advice and get benefit from it.” I’d love to hear from you, as someone who’s gone to the pit, what do you think other people can do to get out?

My second sponsor is a company called Toptal. I just talked to Noah Kagan. He told me how he had to do a bunch of layoffs right now. He did what you suggested, what you did at your company. He said, “Look, I’m putting this goal on the wall, if we don’t get to here, we’re going to have to cut back. We’re very clear, if we don’t hit these numbers, we’re not going to be able to continue.” And so everyone knows about that.

He went through and cut out all the meaningless expenses in his life. And he said, “One thing that I do still believe in, and I do still use is Toptal.” I said, “Why Toptal?” He said, “This is like AWS, Amazon Web Services for developers.” He says, “I need a great developer to do this thing. I could hire them just for that thing, and then that’s it. They’re gone.” And frankly, it means you give somebody a job, but you’re not taking on the responsibility of insurance. And he gave me a list of all the things that you do when you hire people, and we all know that it’s overwhelming. That’s the value of going to Toptal.

If you’re looking right now to hire developers and you’re in a place where you just need this one thing done, this one project taken care of and you want somebody to guide you right, to do the work better than you’ve ever seen it done before, challenge Toptal to bring you that person. If they don’t bring them to you, you don’t have to hire them, but if they do, you can hire them. And if you use my URL, as you guys already know, you get 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period.

So all you have to do is go to this URL to get all that and frankly the first step to get on a call with a matcher. Hiten Shah, the founder of so many companies told me that’s what he loved best about Toptal. A matcher, talk to them, tell them what you’re looking for. Let them find them right match. If you don’t love it, don’t even get started. If you do, you’re going to see how much this will change your business. It’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent.,

What turned things around for you, Sahil? How did Gumroad suddenly go from potentially zombie forever to a growth company?

Sahil: Yeah. I think a big part of it was just being public. It kind of was a weird thing, but I’ve . . .

Andrew: That actually led you to more customers?

Sahil: I think so.

Andrew: Really?

Sahil: I think it did two things. I think, one, it led me to more customers. But two, I think all the people that did stick around with Gumroad had this renewed affinity to it or also, I think would go to social media and be like, “Hey, guys, I use this service. I love it.” I had no idea. I use it as thing that like I thought was a random startup or whatever.”

Andrew: And here’s the guy behind it.

Sahil: Even to this day, like when I do . . . I send out all the Gumroad emails to our creators. I do the webinars now. I do just random stuff. And I think I used to shy away from that. I’m not my company. I want Gumroad to be larger than me. And I realized that the companies that I love, I’m almost always familiar with the founders and the founder’s story. Companies are run by human beings and there’s only so much you can care about a company to be honest. And so, yeah, I think I kind of just started leaning into it and being like, “Gumroad is me in large part. It’s not just me, there’s a team. There’s a lot of people working on it. I think people now that but I can talk about layoffs. I can talk about the good, the bad, the ugly. I can share the numbers. I can just be transparent.” [inaudible 00:43:09]

Andrew: Where did you do all this? My favorite social media app is Twitter. In my world, that’s where I see you. Is that where people are finding you? Are you writing other places? What are you doing?

Sahil: Mostly just Twitter for me. Yeah, but what I’ve noticed is people will screenshot my tweets and then put them on Instagram or put them on . . .

Andrew: I noticed that too. Isn’t that killer, dude?

Sahil: So cool.

Andrew: Like they’re putting it on their own like profile to get upvotes from something you said.

Sahil: It’s so weird.

Andrew: It’s Foundr for example. That Instagram account did it, got a bunch of likes on a couple of things that you said. I don’t think I’m misremembering it, but it’s that type of thing, right?

Sahil: Yeah, 100%. And like just putting yourself out there, like you don’t know . . . I think just asking people like, “Where did you hear about me?” And the stories people have like, “I listen to this podcast,” or, “I like saw you, like Gumroad.” Or like some people just like Google publishing eBook online and then you go to Gumroad. And they go to the about page and then they stumble on my Medium posts, they read the Medium posts, and they follow me on Twitter. And then three months later they . . . Like there’s just so many different ways.

We started doing these creator dinners in every city in America just as a way to thank our top creators really and engage with them. And I realized that like for some people that had made hundreds of thousands of dollars on Gumroad, they never thought about it. It was part of their life that they lived. And it just gave me this kind of like, I don’t know, like almost this kind of this detachment that I almost have now in my life was like, not to say that what I’m doing is unimportant, but it’s only so important compared to their kids, their family, what they’re dealing with with this crisis right now.

And so I can talk about what I’m doing and if people want to listen they can listen. If they don’t . . . They can choose how much content of mine they want to consume. That was the lesson I think I learned in large part to our creators because I would start following our creators and the most successful ones would talk about their product all the time. I’d be like, “Dude, isn’t this weird to your followers that like, they get annoyed by basically your ads?” And they’re like, “No, they follow me on Twitter to hear about my work and the way I get paid is selling my work. The other alternatives would be ads. I don’t like actual ads. I don’t know like what you’re talk . . . ”

It just took me a while to be like, “No, this is totally fine. ” As he mentioned, like I was tweeting very little, I was posting paintings. Even though I was still working on Gumroad. I was still doing this stuff. I was still helping founders. I was still angel investing. So, to me, I think I realized it’s actually like almost more dishonest not to be open because I was hiding all these things that I was doing that [inaudible 00:45:44] with other people.

And so just be more open about, like I’m already thinking this thought, I might as well share it to an audience and see what they think. And I think it makes me sharper, it makes me stronger. And it makes me also more humble. Someone will take an idea and improve upon it. And also I think it grows my own audience, Gumroad’s audience. Gumroad’s audience grows my audience. There’s a lot of synergy but if you don’t allow yourself to kind of participate, like you’re not going to see any of that.

And it takes time too. It takes a lot of touch points until someone’s like, “Oh, I saw your tweets, like in three different places and so I decided to follow you.” That’s what marketing is, right? It takes that sort of 10 times to nag or whatever the stat is for you to buy your kid a toy. It takes time to really like build a relationship with somebody or a company or to say, “Fine, I’m going to buy that thing.” There’s a reason that McDonald’s and Coke and all these companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising.

Andrew: And what you do is you say, “Here’s what I’ve learned, here’s what I believe in, here’s what we’re doing.” And it’s just constantly that.

Sahil: Well, it’s kind of meta, but like the thing that Dalton was doing which is talking to a 2008 self except for other people, like my advice would almost be to do that.

Andrew: To do what? To talk to your past self?

Sahil: To talk to your past self publicly. Like, I think a great person, if you’re looking for an audience, if you don’t know who you should be talking to, the best person to talk to is who you were two years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago and say, “Hey, if you want to break into startups, this is how I would do it because I did it. If you want to write, this is how I would think about writing, for example.”

Andrew: One thing that I would love to see more from you is more this. This is from August 26, 2019. Meet the Creator. Please tell me I didn’t break my iPad again. No, I didn’t break it. Good. I just cracked the screen a little while ago. I’ve got to have a better way of showing my screen to people. Oh, especially not now. I don’t know how long it’ll take Apple to send me another one. Here. Something like this. Meet the Creator, six rapid fire questions with a woman who creates ezines. Like that. I want to hear more of the people who are doing this. It’s amazing that somebody could create and still get paid in a world that feels like it’s got endless stuff.

Sahil: She does this full time. Her ezines are her full-time income right now and it’s amazing.

Andrew: I didn’t break this thing. I want more. I want to see more people like that. How are they doing it? Anyway, that’s amazing. Let’s talk a little bit about, before we get to the advice . . . I had you here at the office. Thank you for doing the first in-person interview. I think that I never really recorded. And because of that I was able to go out and do interviews around the country, around the world, excuse me, as I travel the world last year and ran marathons. It was you and then when I needed to learn how to record it myself, Hiten Shaw said, “I’ll come in, we’ll experiment. You could record my interview and use your own equipment and figure it out,” and I did. And one thing that stood out for me was you drank whiskey. And then you mentioned that you’re a Mormon or explorer Mormonism and I wanted to know what happened with that. Did you become a Mormon?

Sahil: Yeah, I did. So I got baptized and became a Mormon and did that for a couple years. And now I’m kind of off it for now. I might get back into it. The big question for me was, “Well, would it stick leaving Utah?” So I moved to Portland, Oregon around a month ago in January of 2020. So it’s been around two months. I mean, now it’s, it’s even harder actually because there’s no more church, actually. Church is gone for now. They’ve cancelled.

Andrew: What do you mean? Because there are no church services now to avoid infections. So you don’t even have that connection. But I sense that the time that you were feeling a sense of spirituality that there was like, and I felt this after you were gone, some superhuman power had touched you and brought you back to life, or they gave you the confidence to do this. Am I right? Was it a spiritual awakening too?

Sahil: I think to a large degree there is . . . I think I did experience that. And I think I’m sort of constantly looking for more of that. And I think a lot of that just comes from understanding and grokking people and things. I think Utah, I don’t know if it gave me religion necessarily, but I think it opened my eyes to just like people that I would never have thought I would have agreed with or even said, “You are more right on this topic than I am.” And I think when you experience that . . . When you come from a place like San Francisco, like I’m doing the right thing, we’re the future, everyone’s going to think like us in a certain amount of time. We’re on the cusp, we’re on the frontier. And then coming to a place like Utah thinking like, “Oh, cars are stupid, and everyone who . . . ” Like all these different kind of things, and then being like, “Oh, wow, the way that these people live is actually pretty awesome. And they seem super happy.”

Andrew: Like what?

Sahil: I mean, their communities are super tight knit. They spend a lot of time just being appreciative. They cook, they clean, they care about a group of people, they really invest in their communities, they do a of . . .

Andrew: It’s the investment in the community that stands out that if you don’t show up to church a couple of times, you’re not going to die alone. Someone’s going to come to your house. It’s their responsibility to just check in on you, right?

Sahil: Yeah. That’s actually happened in Portland. Two Mormon missionaries came by and said, “Hey . . . ”

Andrew: Because you missed going to church.

Sahil: Yeah, they’re just so good at saying who’s important to us. They’ve picked a group which is the ward which is the 100 people in your sort of local district and said, “These are the people that if you have time, these are the people you should care about. If you’re looking to help, these are the people you should be helping. If you have some spare money, these are maybe the people you might consider donating welfare towards.” And so I think finding that and saying . . . I think there’s this mentality sometimes I used to have and probably still hold to a degree of like, “I can solve that later. I’m focused on my business, I’m focused on this, I can worry about donating or I can worry about helping my community or finding my this or that later.” And I think coronavirus has actually kind of accelerated that for a lot of people but like how can I [inaudible 00:52:15] . . .

Andrew: I need to do this now, you mean.

Sahil: . . . participate. It’s kind of a paradoxical thing. But one of the best things you can do for yourself is to help other people.

Andrew: How? How did that happen to you?

Sahil: I don’t know because it’s a weird thing because you have to make a decision. Like moving to Utah is kind of a big decision. And a lot of people looked at that and said, “Wow, he’s super open-minded.” But I don’t know. Like, I don’t know if I was open-minded. Like was I open-minded because I moved to Utah, or did I move to Utah because . . . It’s like hard to separate.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sahil: I think I was open to the idea. I think like a lot of things, change is hard, struggle is difficult. Most people don’t opt into it. A perfect confluence of events made me being like, “I don’t need to live in San Francisco, it’s depressing. Trump just won the election. It’s expensive. My landlord just increased my rent,” and like all these things just pushed me over the edge. And I was like, “I need to leave, I need to bounce.” And I think every decision has that. You have the part of the decision that’s like, “My current status quo is not good anymore, like I need a change. And then there’s finding the change.”

The hard part is that beginning being like, “Where I’m at right now is not good.” And often because change is hard, we try to push that off as much as possible like we talked about. Like letting somebody go, that’s a really hard thing to do. You find all these reasons not to do it. And so I think some of it is just figuring out . . . Like just getting to a point where you’re like, “Where I’m at is not where I want to be. I don’t want to be in a place where I’m just slaving away working at a startup trying to make a unicorn out of it.”

Andrew: Did the spirituality help you? Talking about God is something that I intentionally stayed away from on Mixergy until people started complaining. And Mormonism, specifically, I stay away from because there’s no religion that got more hate from people than Mormonism. If someone says they’re Mormon without saying anything else, I used to . . . I stopped allowing them to even say that they’re Mormon. But I used to get such hate that I said, “Why would I subject the guest to that when it doesn’t really help my mission?”

Sahil: Yeah. I think the wonderful thing about Mormonism is people really value it as part of their life. And I just don’t see that with a lot of other things. I know a lot of religious people. I grew up Muslim and there’s just not that same level of commitment to Mormonism and to serving a mission for two years.

Andrew: I would imagine that there’s some Muslims who do that too, but I get your point. I get your point. But the thing that I want to get to and then we’ll go on to advices, did the spirituality help you? Did this feeling of, there’s someone bigger, something bigger, some better presence that’s guarding me, helping me and pushing me along, did that let you do more than you could have done on your own?

Sahil: I think so. I think these are stories I hear over and over again of people that feel like they were able to do the impossible and they credit somebody else. You see this with athletes all the time, for example. And I think it’s healthy. There’s that TED talk about the creative muse. And I think it’s a similar idea of like, one of the best ways to be successful is to basically just sort of like give all credit of that success to somebody else. And I think you can do that a), religiously, you can find ways to it religiously, for sure. Crediting the team, crediting you privilege, crediting the way your parents brought you up like I try to do, but really like just only taking responsibility for bad things and passing on everything else.

And to me, it just feels, I don’t know it feels almost freeing to be like, all the good stuff is part of life. And the stuff that I really love about religion and spirituality is it makes me feel like, I can try my best and the good stuff is going to help other people deal with problems in their life, like we’re helping people pay their rent and do all these great things. But if I mess up, it’s okay, it’s fine. As long as I try to do a good job because there’s somebody out there who’s bigger, the world is going to be in a great place. If you’re Muslim or Christian, you might think that looks a certain way. If you’re not, you might think it looks . . . You might believe in the simulation argument, which is another sort of interpretation of . . .

Andrew: A bigger presence.

Sahil: Yeah, a future that is incomprehensibly better than what we have today. But feeling like you’re just participating in that journey, as much as you can, I think, to me, is really beneficial. It helps me do really hard things, because if I mess up, it’s not a big deal. But then also like, I don’t know, it just makes me feel like I should try. It gives me confidence that if I try like there’s a multiplication effect on that. Somebody else or someone else or some feeling or some force or just other people are going to see my efforts and say, “I want to help this person succeed.” And just feeling like it’s a team effort. I think I used to have this very strong mentality of like, “It’s just me, I’m in charge, I can run over everything and run through every wall.” And that did not work for me. And sometimes that’s what you need, is just, I wish you could read a book and become wiser but honestly, often I think that you just have to get pretty close to a not good spot to be like, “Okay, that’s not working. I need to try something else.”

Andrew: All right, so a not good spot. A lot of us are going through that. You’ve gone through it. You’re doing well now. What advice do you have to your past self or to someone else going through this? What do we do?

Sahil: I think one, like for me, what’s been really helpful is focusing on the things that really matter to me that are going to be the same and just focusing on those things. Like I just got married two months ago and being like, “This is a stable part of my life for now.” And that’s great. I have a cat. I think staring at this cat is one of the best things for my mental health because I look at this cat and I’m just like, “This thing doesn’t even know about coronavirus.” They’re living the same life they’ve always lived, except they get more playtime. I think similar to that spirituality thing, just like feeling like I’m God to that cat. Like there are bigger things happening and that coronavirus or anything else that happens in life is going to look small in comparison if I had a more macro view of things. So that’s been really helpful.

I think also just getting profitable. Like that was the best thing because it gave me confidence that like, if you’re doing $1 in profit or a million dollars in profit, it doesn’t really matter because what it means is you’re alive and you can keep going and you can . . . You know you might have to make some hard decisions to get there but it means that when things do get better, you’re going to be in such a good spot.

And I really believe that like . . . I mean, you look at the startups that were started in 2008, 2009. Pinterest, where I worked before was started in 2008. You look at the startups that were started in the dotcom boom and bust, they’re some of the most valuable companies in the world and some of the most, not just valuable market cap wise, but just like in terms of the value they’ve been able to create. And so I think if you can survive, just time is one of the best assets you have as a business.

Gumroad is doing great. Now, we’ve seen this kind of J-curve. But it’s nine years in, like I built Gumroad as a weekend project in April 2011. It’s not an overnight success by any means. And we’ll see, maybe it’s a blip and it just stabilizes, that’s fine, too, because we’re profitable. It’s not going to change anything for me. But yeah, I think just being comfortable also just with where you’re at, I think is just a healthy attitude, because that is where you’re at, right? There’s only so much you can do and there is this kind of Buddhist kind of desire or suffering mentality to it like, if you seek more, you’re setting yourself up to feel worse than you are.

Andrew: I always thought being comfortable where you are is an inhibitor, it keeps you from doing more because you’re comfortable and happy where you are. But people who operate from a sense of comfort with themselves are just easier to work with. They’re more creative. You know what, I’m not going to draw these big conclusions. I’m going to say, that’s what worked for you. And I’m glad that you’re sharing it.

Sahil: I would say one addition just quickly is, I think, being comfortable with like the systems that you have maybe I think is . . .

Andrew: What do you mean?

Sahil: Feeling good about your schedule, your gym routine, how much you work, what you work on, how intellectually curious you are, how much time you spend on social media, these are all things you can control and you should change and feel good about and get to a place where you feel good about it. But there are a lot of things that are goal related that I think . . . Like being a million in revenue, 10 million in revenue, 100 million in revenue, like the CEOs that run those companies are all working roughly as hard and might be equivalent in smartness or anything else.

So I think separating out systems and goals and focusing on the systems, focusing on that kind of 24-hour-cycle, I like to think of my life in 24 hours cycles, and as long as I can spend those 24 hours effectively and feel good about that, if that leads to a million in revenue, $1 in revenue, $30 zillion in revenue, whatever it is, like I’m going to feel good because the things that I was able to focus on like getting a good night’s sleep, those are the things that matter anyways, like relative to all these other things, in my opinion.

Andrew: All right, the website for anyone who wants to go check it out is As I said, I don’t think describing it does it justice. I’ve been amazed by your design skills forever, your company forever. It’s just the little touches are so beautiful, so well done and so minimalist that it’s like, gets out of the way at the right time.

Anyway, thanks so much for being in here. And I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen, the first HostGator for hosting your website, go start something right now. Or if you have a hosting company right now, and they’re charging you too much, now’s a good time to move over to HostGator. They will migrate you. Go to And when you’re looking to hire developers, this is like the Amazon Web Services, spin them up when you need them, spin them down when you don’t, make it work the way that Noah Kagan and Hiten Shah, and David Hauser and so many other people I’ve interviewed have done it. Go to to get started with them. Sahil, thanks so much.

Sahil: You’re so welcome. That was awesome. Thanks for having me.

Andrew: Same here. Bye, everyone.

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