31 days, 120,000 hits, and $462 in revenue. The Startup Foundry’s story.


In our first month online The Startup Foundry had 120,000 page views, grew to over a thousand followers on twitter, and generated $462 in advertising revenue. I thought I would share the backstory and some lessons we learned along the way in hopes that it might be useful for other startups.

The Back Story.

The idea for TSF came to me while I was building my other startup, CodeSketch. I love talking and writing about startups but I live in West Michigan and the startup scene is rather small. I wanted to connect with other entrepreneurs that were building really cool things across the world and I saw The Startup Foundry as a vehicle to make that happen. TSF is a completely moonlit project.

Lessons learned:

1. Once you have identified a need, DO SOMETHING immediately.
•Don’t wait for other people to help you. Jump in and do it yourself. You can end up spending more time trying to convince other people to join you then just doing the work yourself.

•If you’re waiting to have everything completely polished, you’ve waited to long.

•Be borderline obsessed. I’m so incredibly hungry to make TSF the best place for entrepreneurs and founders on the web. Don’t lose focus.

2. Be the first to admit you suck at something, then work your ass off to fix it.
•When we first launched the site the comments were easier to read then the articles. Every startup is going to make stupid mistakes that seem blatantly obvious in retrospect. Don’t let this scare you.

•Our videos interviews were terribly produced (our guests had fantastic content though). If you watch my first interview that I published with Andrew Warner, you almost feel sorry for me I did such a poor job. I’m still not quite to the level I want to be at yet but I’m working at it and I’m getting better.

Your goal is to not suck twice.

3. Be proud of your accomplishments, but not cocky.
•In the grand scheme of things we are a tiny site, but this is a tiny site I’m incredibly proud of. I love waking up each morning to an inbox stuffed with fantastic startup news that I have the privilege to dig through. It is truly humbling to have guys like Andrew Warner, Tim O’Reilly, and Alexis Ohanian give you a half hour of their time. I love that I have the privilege to do this and I don’t take it for granted.

•I’ve talked to some entrepreneurs that are almost afraid to take credit for their success. Luck is an admittedly huge role in success but take credit for showing up to work everyday. Many people fizzle out in the day to day grind. Take pride in your accomplishments (even if your accomplishment is that you’re still moving an inch at a time).

The Future.

After seeing the initial traction, I’m going to start shifting more of my time to The Startup Foundry and try to turn it into a powerhouse of startup news. I would love to see TSF grow into a full time job (complete with a full time salary), but we’re not there quite yet. I’m sure we are going to make more mistakes down the road but I promise that we will iterate quickly, and try to serve this community as best as we can. If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask them in the comments. I’ll try to answer them all. If you have an awesome startup, I want to hear about it, so send us a tip!

For more startup news, follow us on Twitter @startupfoundry.

  • CONGRATULATIONS!

  • Congrats guys

  • A little coockiness is fine.. as long as you can easily shift to humble when needed.

    • Anonymous

      “Hubris” might have been a better word…

  • Editing guys! Congrats but something like this needs to not be overlooked if you want to be a big player – “Our videos interviews were terribly produced”

  • Congrats! Really dug the reddit interview, keep them coming.

  • This is great! I’ve been seeing links from The Startup Foundry a lot on HN lately and it’s just been a month. Keep it up and you’ll soon get even more traction!

    In November 2010 I discovered Kinect hacking and created a blog with the latest hacks, http://KinectHacks.net, just for fun. Since it was the only blog about the topic at the time it grew quickly and the in the first month it reached 100 000 unique visitors and 300 000 pageviews. In the end of January it had gotten over a million pageviews.

    I eventually got tired of running it, it took time away from my real business, so I sold it on Flippa.com for $12600 (http://bit.ly/hBcQQb , requires login).

    One of the best tips I can give you is to invest in a realtime analytics service like Clicky, which I used. It’s really helpful for immediately noticing when stuff go viral and take action on it.

    Another cool thing is that the new owner spent just $200 on Facebook advertisements and got over 10000 likes for the group (https://www.facebook.com/KinectHacking ) in a week because of it. I’ve always heard that Facebook ads don’t work, but it surely worked in this case. Just goes to show that you should never take stuff as granted before you’ve tested it yourself.

  • Congratulations on your early success! Keep it up!

    The site is a joy to read and I love watching the content mature. The Weekly has also been a surprisingly welcome treat.

  • Hey congratulations to you! This is really cool, thanks for sharing that story as well!

  • Anonymous

    I can only see two referral links as your advertising. Did you make the 462 dollars with just those?

    Congrats! This is the first article I have read – got here through HN.

    • Anonymous

      In that first month we used InfluAds (similar to the deck’s model). We’ve since switched to selling ads ourself and through BuySellAds. We’re on target to make a little more this month then we did last month.

  • Osize Om

    I do not recall how I found the site but I am glad I did. Keep it up and like the outside of Silicon Valley slant to your work.

  • Anonymous

    I love this site. You have a more mature voice and focused approach than any other tech journalism outlet.

  • You forgot one: if at least half of the important people in your life think you’re crazy, you’re probably on the right path.

    Life it too short not to pursue your dreams. No one else is going to pursue them for you.

    Good luck.

  • Congratulations! That’s truly a great accomplishment and something to be proud of!

  • Ooo I loved the article! I agree on not spending too much time on making things perfect. Congrats on your success! I started mine few weeks ago and decided to share my experience with everyone on my blog. Please take a look and share your comments or ideas http://tukulogics.com/blog/

  • Paul what do you use for software with your interviews?

  • Your site rocks. It is a regular visit for me. I really had no idea you were just one month old. Just goes to show what motivation, hard work, and a little foolishness can accomplish 🙂

    Here’s to many more great months at the TSF.

  • Nicely done Paul.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Andrew! Your coaching on the interviews was fantastic.

      P.S. TSF readers, be sure to checkout Andrew’s site at http://mixergy.com.

  • Anonymous

    How did your site garner 120k page views in the first month? Many startups would kill for those numbers.

  • Dear TSF,

    Your doing it right, don’t screw it up.

    –Ben

  • Awesome job!

  • Congrats on the numbers and I’m sure it will continue to grow. Really liking the quality over quantity approach of TSF as every time I read/view a post I know its not just a bunch of fluff. Best of luck and definitely have you bookmarked.

  • Andy Hairgrove

    “Your goal is to not suck twice” — good advice. Better advice…increase your rate of failure. The faster you fail, the faster you learn and ultimately the richer your life’s experiences. Don’t get comfortable. Keep trying new things and taking risks. Good luck to ya’.

  • You’ve got some fresh content here, I like it, keep up the good work.

  • I’ve really been enjoying the feverish focus on true startups and their stories. I love reading about the big co’s and tech news, but there’s a lot of coverage out there already. It’s refreshing to see original content and insight into the companies that don’t have may not be carrying the same hype-stick as others.

  • DgdgMuf

    follow this blog since initial start by Paul on HN, love it since…
    the ‘ipad-post-pc-device’ story is slightly off track though

  • Congratulations Paul! I’ve been following you and your site on HN and thought this was a great way to end your first month – thanks for sharing.

    Just wondering, how did you promote the site from the start? 120k in the first month is pretty impressive.

  • Incredible start. The content was so good that I went back and read every article after I discovered this site. I rarely do that.

  • Wow, can’t believe this site is only a month old. Really good job with the design and mostly, the content. Keep it coming!

  • You guys have been doing a good job and are an inspiration to me. The reason is you have generated enough buzz in a short time to have long time TC readers, interested in you, I believe your research was basically on HN news board, you managed to get some kick ass interviews from the likes of O’Reilly and you have an attitude.Last but not the least you have great content. This combination is what I like and see as successful way to do things!

  • Amanda Drury

    I’m not a techie by any means. I don’t have a smart phone. I don’t even know how many giga-whatevers my computer has. But I love this site. I’ve found your articles and advice to be pertinent in my own line of work. Thanks. Keep it up.

  • Phontz

    I don’t know how much longer I can continue to coach and give PM tips on all this technical stuff. It’s a grilling and difficult task, but I shall continue to do my best, though I will humbly remain in the background.

  • Anonymous

    I really love this site! Keep up the great work and this could become your fulltime job (& salary!)

  • Great work Paul — it’s great to see what you’ve built here and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow. Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    Well done guys. I just stumbled across TSF today and am definitely going to come back for some more startup news!

  • Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s always motivating to read about founders, particularly the bootstrapping ones! And thanks for the great site!

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  • cannot agree more with “Once you have identified a need, DO SOMETHING immediately.” I would think few of TSF-ers sit on their arses, but the world is a big place and lots just hibernate

  • crystalcross

    Very nice!   I’ve been a web start-up entrepreneur for about 15 years now, and you’re one of the first to hit the nail right on the head.   Few, concise and direct steps for moving from the conceptual to the actual.   Great work, keep it coming.   You may also want to focus on the steps needed to take a great idea and then monetizing it.  Kudos my friend!

  • Ricki

    How did you get so traffic so quickly? I have a site and I struggle to get 20-30 views per day.

  • Electroasd

    love your post very much … hope you will improve more and more 🙂

  • Luck is an admittedly huge role in success

    No its not.

  • doron

    a year has passed. site seems a little not updated. what happened?