Yesterday, I wrote a blog post on how I launched my side-project SaaS and “failed.” Since then, I’ve received so much good feedback on how I didn’t really fail, I just gave up too soon.
However, that got me thinking about how far I have come since I first began to code, and I wanted to tell you a story about how dog feces shaped my life into everything it has become.
No, you didn’t read that wrong, we’re about to talk about dog shit.
I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart ever since I can remember, but there was one defining moment for me when I was nine years old.
The Nintendo 64 had just come out, and I wanted one. Bad. My friends had them, the games looked sweet, and the graphics were AMAZING.
So, I did the first thing that any respectable nine year old would do, I asked my parents to drop $164 and buy me one.
That didn’t go over too well. In fact, there response was “Get a job.”
I was nine, and sadly the days of getting a newspaper route when you’re underage were already gone, how in the heck was I supposed to get $164?
Then, one morning my Mom came in from her morning walk and said “I have an idea for how you can get a job, you’re going to start your own business…” there was a pause, and I was getting pumped up. That N64 was in sight!
Then she dropped the bomb. “You’re going to pick up dog poop in peoples yards in our neighborhood once a week, and charge them for it.”
MONEY. Alright, so “money” wasn’t exactly my first thought. It was probably, “You want me to pick up POOP!?”
But the fact of the matter was, there was actually a need for this kind of service. Who wants to pick up dog poop? Why wouldn’t you pay someone else to do that?
So the “Super Duper Pooper Scooper Service™” was born. My Dad helped me make an excel spread sheet to calculate my expenses, gross income, net income and clients, and off I went.
I rang the doorbell of many of my neighbors that I knew had dogs and said “I’ll pick up after your dog once a week for $5. You can pick Friday or Saturday.”
I got 2 clients that day and I was hooked. But alas, it would still take me 17 weeks to get that N64. I needed more clients, I needed a better way to get the word out.
“Dad, I need a website. That’s how I find out about stuff, I need people to find out about the Super Duper Pooper Scooper Service.”
So my dad, bless his heart, proceeded to teach his 9 year old son HTML. I had an animated GIF of a dog, bright red H1 text, and let’s be real, a freakin’ blink tag.
I made a flyer that had my website address on it with information on my fees and what I did, and I put one in every mailbox in our neighborhood (gotta add that ink/paper cost to my Excel spreadsheet).
Within another week I had SIX clients paying me $5/week. At $30/week, age 9, I bought that N64. Then I bought an electric guitar, and god only knows what else.
Eventually my parents caught on that I was probably making way too much money for a 9 year old made me start putting $20/week into a Mutual Fund.
Long story short, not only did this experience get me into my web development career, I also bought my first car in cash with money I had made from the mutual fund when I turned 16. That’s right, I bought my first car by picking up dog poop.
Now I’m a web developer that’s built everything from online communities, to side-projects such as Kobra.io and I even succeeded in building a web app with a team of 2 other people that brought in $1.2M/year in recurring revenue with no budget.
That might not necessarily be “glory,” but I can confidently say that I’ve come a long way since I was nine, and I’m proud of that.
How did you get your start in programming or business, what’s your proudest moment? Let me know in the comments below!