Gumroad Founder Sahil Lavingia on Network Capital Discussing "The Minimalist Entrepreneur"
The art of productizing yourself
I am Utkarsh, the founder of Network Capital, inviting you to listen in to an interesting conversation I had with Sahil Lavingia. He is the founder of Gumroad and author of “The Minimalist Entrepreneur”.
I invested in Gumroad for 3 reasons.
1. I believe in the power of the passion economy and Gumroad enables creators to make a living doing what they love
2. Work is being unbundled from employment and Gumroad plays a meaningful role in accelerating this trend
3. The story of Gumroad speaks to me
Network Capital Hosted Gumroad Founder Sahil Lavingia
Sahil Lavingia raised capital from some of the top investors in the world when he was 19 but things went awry soon after. The company could not grow at the desired pace. Sahil had to return money to the investors and fire everyone on his team.
After the debacle, Sahil left the Bay Area but kept building Gumroad as a one-person company. Even though the company wasn’t growing as fast as he had hoped, it was still serving customers and enabling thousands of creators to monetize their craft.
After many years of slowly rebuilding Gumroad, Sahil wrote an evocative article titled “Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company”.
The article got great traction online and Sahil’s personal brand (despite the supposed failure) started soaring. People appreciated his vulnerability and authenticity. They were also inspired by the fact that despite having to fire all employees and return money to investors, Gumroad kept going.
His Twitter followers grew exponentially and realizing the potential of his story, he decided to diversify. This is what he did:
1. Kept building Gumroad in an unorthodox way. Today Gumroad is valued between $100 Million and $500 Million. Valuation does not mean success but it is great to see the company rebuild itself. As an investor and a believer in the passion economy, I hope it succeeds in the long run.
2. Leveraged his Twitter following to launch a rolling fund.
3. Started teaching online with Maven (a company I invested in)
4. Wrote a book with the same title as his online course, “The Minimalist Entrepreneur”
Basically, Sahil failed forward, productized himself and unbundled his experiences to become an unorthodox entrepreneur, investor, teacher and writer.
From the outside these might seem like unrelated activities but if you dive deep, you will realize that Sahil created these new opportunities for himself based on the specific knowledge developed by building Gumroad.
Genuine curiosity has the power to catapult you forward in the toughest of times so your challenge is not to look for the hottest new trend but to seek the question(s) that sparks fascination. It should ideally be something you would do even if you were not to get paid. Even if you fail like Sahil, the insights gleaned and networks developed are there to serve you forever if you are smart about it.
We hosted Sahil for an hour-long chat about his new book “The Minimalist Entrepreneur” where he reflects on his journey thus far and shares interesting ideas for building sustainable businesses. Hope you enjoy watching / listening.
P.S. Enroll for the Network Capital Deep-Generalist Fellowship
P.P.S. Attend the Network Capital Holiday Dinners.