Self Isolation during the bootstrap phase of your startup idea

After the closedown of Progressbar, a hackerspace I’ve led and managed for the past 10 years, it was left me withdrawn from the outer world.

Hackerspaces have their own pros and cons and I really recommend someone get hands-on leading a super diverse group of people, helping them on their project, participating, having tons of physical events (1500+) and having all that fun laying around during upgrades for space, the mentality of people and growing together and sometimes figure out moon shot under your hand. Definitely a lifetime experience from my perspective.

Circling back to what to do next, I had first recovered from a breakdown, long-term burnout, wipe out the trauma of withdrawal syndromes, which I still can not estimate I could do faster, better or it takes time in the brain to process all that stuff. Frequent biking in forest has helped me a lot in this frontier.

Once I felt okayish, I realized it might be good to snap an opportunity in web3 to get things going, learn new processes, tricks, hacks and especially meet new people. I guess it was successful, I’ve landed a new job. Being a developer relationship role has opened new horizons through fresh pair of eyeballs and somewhere there, I was back in the game.

Suddenly, we’ve been approached by the Kusama council, there was an emerging NFT standard on Kusama. We’ve already had an unfair advantage knowing everything on the front end, so it should be an easy snap to do NFT explorer (Kodadot). Things went smoothly, we’ve drafted the proposal, passed it in an extremely short time and we’ve (me&viktor) started engineering how to keep the ethos of decentralized stack accessible by anyone with the least effort to run own instance. I guess we’ve failed here, exactly, I was wrong on tech vs use case. Let me explain why. I’ve thought that using ThreadDB (reinvented orbitDB, on top of IPFS) should be straightforward and will not have bugs, but thanks to how RMRK operates w/o any chain logic, dragons we’re invited to the war room (I mean double-spending, not Bruno) so we had to fight with that. Here has started our first little fight as we’ve been a bit blamed on how we operate and we’ve started been not recommended as I agree, it was on us.

We’ve chosen the cowboy approach, a super-hacky solution, running 10k lines of code w/o single test where people's money we’re involved.

Long story short, thanks to our traction and generating early revenue, we’ve been started being pushed by external VCs that we should raise some money, maybe even more we need.

Disclosure, so far we’ve been running on a shoestring budget, received grant (30k) by Web3Foundation for rewriting Polkadot.js aka Dotapps.io into Vuejs with fully functional alternative (Pain from frequent breaking changes included) and one small grant from Kusama Treasury (15k).

Re Feb 2021, the Market and the whole NFT bull run, it has already started heating. I agree, OpenSea has meanwhile landed 100M in Series B, there must be definitely some buzz on market to snap cheap capital on market. It was about time to surf this wave. We’ve been introduced by one investor (James) to Subquery and we thought, that would figure out all of our current back pain issues with dragons.

Hacking on hacked code has started, Viktor delivered quite super fast, we just need to test out all edge cases and mitigate most of them. Okay, in May 2021 something, we’ve deployed a new version. Meanwhile, I was trying to create and compose research that we’ve should not miss on roadmap, quirks, features, growing audience and all that usual startup growing jazz. Had amazing Obsidian on that. It has grown over 7x from first I’ve started collecting and drafting our long-term vision, how to be novel and keep growing, design right moat strategy &c.

At some point, I’ve felt the first stage of burnout, so I’ve decided to put things on hold because rather I will refill my stamina and batteries as I would raise money with being deep in burnout, that would be a hard one. Underload and trying rest and the same time.

Somewhere around here, I’ve reached Daniel (AU) to help out with the deck, as he was experienced within VC culture, DAOs and web3 veteran. He was keen to help out and identified me as one with Asperger, what’s over kind of autism, probably convinced him that I’m founder material. Definitely from his side, this was a super solid help with Lil W, helping design our amazing deck, to make it come true. Investors reading, probably seen this deck. All credits go to Lil, Daniel, I was just dropping knowledge from my Obsidian

With help of Daniel, We’ve put an outline of the vision for Open Metaverse for MetaPrime. From KodaDot's perspective, we’ve observed few strategic trends that might be coming to the market. We’re right. Initial demand from investors was intense. So’ve just needed to figure out on terms.

At this stage, I was thinking that if I will need to go through deep investor calls again, I might exit with slight burnout, risking losing vision. I’ve decided to take a trip to Slovenia for two weeks in the begging of August with Viktor as I guess he was also smashed with load, meanwhile, he was finishing Engineering degree and now successfully landed Ph.D. Things get well, had all that relaxing activities incl hiking, biking &c, discuss broader on vision &c.

Slovenia is amazing. It has mountains, hiking, forests, mountain bike trails for cycling, optical internet connectivity everywhere &c and I’ve decided to relocate here in the long term because it’s even friendlier from a crypto tax perspective. As that would be my major income for the upcoming months.

We’ve landed an amazing stay, as I’ve marked it, “cheap swiss”. Later of our staying in Slovenia at farm stay where they had optical internet in the middle of nowhere! (Beat that Starlink) I was convinced we can probably stay longer (maybe a week more…I’m writing this and I’m already 9th week here) as it would have positive impacts on my wellbeing, not being noised by the opportunities in the city. I was convinced that it would bring focus to my future delivery, no matter what will show up, I’ll be grinding in preparation to snap my lucky opportunity.

The cycle was simple. Upgraded lifestyle to one meal per day — I would not survive without this. After dinner, I was trying to reflect on the day and visualize the next one, take notes. Fixed sleep schedule around 9 pm, sometimes even sooner.

Don’t sell your sleep.

Get up early 5–6 am, depends on the brain load of the previous day, get morning sun to sync circadian rhythm, walk over greenfield, which is amazing for wandering on thoughts, trying not to talk to anyone in the morning. Read or listen to the book, write notes, highlights, write book reviews.

Go for a morning mountain bike.

This was quite important for me because it was only my precious time for being with oneself and has the opportunity to reflect with a fresh brain state. During the bike I’m trying to have an anaerobic workout, nose deep breathing is important, wandering with my eyeballs while exploring new trails in the forest, similar to my thoughts and deep think. Very last one, get some sort of meditation and suppress my usual thoughts running through my head. I might be of course wrong. Everyone is different and I’ve learned this has worked well. In return for my daily bike session, I have extreme focus and delivering things with the breeze. Helps me a lot during calls and staying on track, not slip into some procrastinating, probably had none session, where I’ve slacking last weeks. Only being constantly productive without feeling the load.

During my stay I’ve had the wonderful company of animals (except Viktor and host family 😅), my own dog — Australian Shepherd — Berry, two swiss shepherds Otto & Laila, two cats, Margaret and Sanchez. Goats were present at the farm as well, Bery had an opportunity to work. It brought enough vibrant “social” life which kept me up and in touch with legacy reality apart from our favourite hipster burger place in Kotlje.

Things steer a bit sudden as few opportunities have started emerging far away. I’ve identified that metadata hosting would be a perfect fit for tooling future NFT marketplaces and make it working on Arweave. We’ve signed with PermaFrost to Open Web Foundry Demo Day. We received an intense pitch practice session by Sebastian 🌮, which was remarkable. We’ve successfully delivered working PoC, presenting during a demo day was of course our worst pitch, so we had to record video again to be satisfied on this page. The takeaway from this, that we have incredible interest from investors base around Arweave and we are happy to grind and elaborate in the future. We are looking for a third founding member to take ownership of this along MetaPrime development.

Somewhere here, in the background of grinding PermaFrost, Daniel has decided it’s time to push the trigger and initialize the first tranche raising for MetaPrime. I had no doubts this could be a super extreme season in my life, to keep myself focused and not burn out quickly. I was super strict on my routines, habits and trying to withdraw from any stuff I had. We’ve done quite well. From start, my calendar was pretty packed, 3–4 investors on average then reached upper heights 5–6. To sum it all, ran over 100+ investors (Thanks to Internet!) in less than three weeks. Investors had various quality, scope, signal and checks. I’ve been only focusing to deliver my pitch performance at the same quality, each time. The practice was indeed in the place. We’ve ended up 3x oversubscribed for the first tranch and over 50% commitments to the second tranch.

You can imagine how much stuff circled at the same time on me, but one has plenty of flexible time and is ready to grind, strike.. would not be pushed from its own balance. This is quite an important takeaway for me, that if I manage to start applying pre-mortem strategy, expecting outlier events, black swans, processing all my judgments to events by the right brain, being light and flexible on my schedule, I can snap on anything. Even finding the right system in chaos.

Now it would be that harder part. Deliver our promise for MetaPrime, KodaDot and PermaFrost. Do not fall into the pit of exhaustion. It would be definitely thought, but here we are, being challenged by the weather. My favourite is windy with rain attacking your eyeballs while you are kitesurfing. Flawlessly. That always brings me the feeling that I’m well and alive.

Takeaway

One needs to be patient and definitely put oneself in front of other tasks to feel fulfilled and the meaning they are trying to build into their life. What has I’ve learned — how to benefit from self-isolation might be for someone hard, for some really beneficial.

You need to find a power of being alone.

As your thoughts are only in your head, sometimes you need external perspective, validation if you are not that crazy. However, it has helped me to nurture all thoughts I’ve created during the last few weeks here. Steps I took, bets I’ve placed long-term. I safely can say, I’ll be leaving as a new and transformed person from this farm after that long period. And that’s great because I’m open to new perspectives which I’ve might be missed when I was noised while living in the city. On-farm I’ve managed to limit distraction to an absolute minimum if I don’t count on postal couriers delivering packages. Everything around was a pleasant experience to choose up to me when I wanted to interact with the outer world. Probably once you are in the city, you are obsessed with opportunities you have, what you can do &c.

My usual morning has looked like this, something that has kicked my creativity boredom.

Conclusion

Condensate and distil all my experience I’ve encountered for the past 8 weeks could be sum up easily. For one who is prepared, it will be easy dance. As usual, people over-eating themselves and a lot of friends out there grew in size under stress while they were raising or developing their idea, created mental issues. I can safely say, I have none, I’ve even been physically in shape by Garmin, better than before and it says my fitness age of 20 years old. I haven’t applied any longevity tricks, yet!

Just eat, move, sleep.

What I can confirm is that environmental change was the biggest factor that has made us productive, the trigger is being more adaptive than usual, unlearn old tricks and learn new ones, which makes us robust in the future through collecting experience.

At this stage, we are finishing all legal, legal opinions, with our incorporation for MetaPrime, have started collecting checks, grinding on our vision to render it real. Hiring is next. Assemble a right kick-ass team to drive this further. Yes, we are hiring, so feel free to get to my DMs where you can help us.

Best if I can hand over a blueprint to not being a bottleneck of these amazing ideas. — yangwao

My personal news, that I’ve successfully submitted all legal papers thanks to the local law studio and Viktor. I’m looking to crack on my part being a Slovenian citizen in the future, it would be a nice memo for MetaPrime to grow from this stage.

During all these contextual shuffles, I’ve meanwhile made a brain dump and realized that I have spare capital for deployment, if you are looking to have me in your round as an angel or LP, I’m keen to take a peek at your deck.

Back to the farm reality: Wedding

Meanwhile finishing this writing today, local hosts have kindly invited me to their wedding as it’s all coming together. It’s wonderful to watch the festive mood growing at the farm, with all that adjustments, fairy lights, various items — mood enhancers, just right next to me. I guess it has definitely a stronger vibe than the usual Christmas to me. Can’t wait to get to know people from other countries, regions, host family is quite young. Really looking forward to meeting locally talented people.

experimental NFT landscape — https://nft.KodaDot.xyz