Are you going to start a business? Sell these? Start a Kickstarter? Get a patent?

finallyfunctionalfinallyfunctional wrote 03/22/2022 at 22:06 • 4 min read • Like

No I do not plan on doing any of these things at this time.

This project is an escape for me where I can create something without the constraints that a business would have. I am free to work on this project whenever I want, free to not work on it, free to take as much time as I want, free to pursue any idea I feel like. I do not have to worry about making money from it. Business constraints like having to make money to feed myself, constantly being under a time crunch, and many other business concerns (like I describe below) , will kill my passion for this project. Ever heard the saying that the fastest way to kill an enjoyable hobby is to try to make money from it? I just like to create things in my spare time, on my own time, answering to nobody, and sharing what I learn. 

Running A Startup

I like my life the way it is. I like my job. I like having time every night to spend with my wife, friends, pets, relax, and work on my project. I'm pretty happy and very grateful for the life I have. I'm not interested in running a startup as I would need to dramatically change my life to do so. After researching it, I have a much more realistic view of entrepreneurship than I believe a lot of people have and it's not for me at this time.

Running a startup is hard. I'd need to pore enormous amounts of time into it for it to have a chance to succeed. 60, 80, 100 hour work weeks. I'd spend most of my time running the business instead of actual product development. I'd spend my time managing employees/other members, working on finances, legal, logistics, applying for grants, reaching out to investors, meeting with people. I've asked a few business owners who had an engineering background if they spend much time doing engineering. They all said no, they wish they could do more, but most of their time is spent on business owner stuff. Engineering sounds fun. Running a business does not.

People commonly say they want to start a business so they don't have a boss. Business owners do have bosses, which are their customers, clients, investors, and partners. Yes, business owners have more control. They can drop bad clients or customers. But they still have people they must answer to.

A huge percentage of businesses fail. Even if I'd do everything right, the chances of failure are still very high. Making VR hardware is very hard.

Even if I had a very successful startup and got rich, I do not believe I would be happier. There are many examples of rich people who are not happy. The hedonistic treadmill is very real. There are external sources of happiness, things that can raise your happiness baseline, but they are rare are you should be very skeptical of people, goals, and things increasing your happiness long-term.

So given that I don't want to spend 80 hours a week working, I wouldn't like running a business, the chances of failure are high, I don't think I'd be happier if I had a successful startup, and I already have a life I enjoy and am grateful for, I'm not running a startup.

But You Could Make Millions!

There is a lot more to running a successful business than a great idea. Yes, a great idea is needed, but there is so much more involved. The execution of that idea and how you run your business are arguably more important. Having a great idea doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get rich.

What About a Patent?

I'm not getting one. This is open-source. This video is a good summary of why I decided to not get a patent. Patents do not prevent someone from stealing your idea. They give you the right to sue, not the money to do so. Patent litigation can cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. 

My ideas also change very rapidly. If I'd have patented my first version, that patent would be useless now as my design has changed so much.

Some people have told me if I don't patent my idea someone else will. Yes, someone else can. The patent wouldn't be legitimate and hopefully the patent office would do a prior art search and see my work already exists, but illegitimate patents get issued all the time (that's why patent trolls can exist). Even if I got a patent I don't feel that I'd be protected from large companies or patent trolls. 

As I explained above, I do this for fun and an escape. I make stuff in my basement and shares what I learn. I'm just like all the other makers out there making stuff, and I'm sure most of them don't have hoards of people yelling bad business and legal advice at them.

I also just personally like the open-source model better. I see patents as useful in certain industries. But for an idea that can be iterated on by anyone with a 3D printer and some power tools, locking the idea away behind a patent stifles innovation.

But Someone Could Steal Your Idea and Sell It!

Good, let them. More innovation in VR locomotion, more VR locomotion devices. This is open-source and I accept that someone could make money off my idea.

You Really Don't Care About Making Money?

Not really. Maybe I will at some point in the future, but now not really. I make a little bit from YouTube, I may start a Patreon, but that's about it.