A few days ago I booked my flight back to Austria. Starting on April 13, I’m a full-time indie again. You’re probably saying: “What?! You’re leaving the Bay Area? This is sad!” But I’m very excited about it.
I’m in a better situation than ever before. I finally figured out what I want to do with my life. I’m no longer enviously looking at other places. I learned what’s really important, and that you can’t just replace life-long friends.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m going to miss San Francisco. Really. It’s such a great city, with such an awesome spirit, unlike any other city I’ve ever been to. (And heck, half of my Twitter followers are here, so it was super nice to finally meet up with you guys!)
So why leave at all? Well, it just didn’t work out. I’m full of ideas and really, really want to work on my own stuff.
Back when I got my job offer at a WWDC party in 2011, I was in an entirely different position, working as a freelancer for some nice companies, but wanted a change. So the prospect of living in San Francisco, being part of the startup culture, and working together on something great, was very, very appealing. (Damn you, Hacker News!)
So, I accepted the offer and waited for my visa. Waited, and waited. I stopped doing freelance work because initially we thought it’d all be done in a month. Ha, how wrong we were. In the end it took more than six months! I even finished my bachelor’s degree during that time.
But it wasn’t only that. Suddenly my mind was free from all the freelance work (and the feeling of guilt when I didn’t work on it). Naturally, I filled that space up with other projects. And, partly inspired by some friends, I wanted to try the paid component business. So this happened. And while waiting for my visa, I created a viable business that’s now making more money than my full-time job possibly ever could.
Still, all gears were set for SF, so I took the gig. It became all about the experience now. I really believed I could do it. But then, managing a more than 40-hour job with basically another full-time job on the side is nearly impossible, and after killing myself for a while, I finally had to choose which is more fun. Well, let’s say it wasn’t a hard decision. (To be honest, it was in fact very hard. I hate letting people down, and of course while it was a business I was leaving, I also respected the people there, and had a hard time knowing I would be disappointing them and the high expectations they had for me.)
This all sounds so simple and logical now, but I really jumped into the whole business blind, yet landed on my feet. Support requests and ideas were exploding, and as revenue went up, so did the amount of time required to care about my product. Also, I was really looking forward to working with some well-respected people in the iOS scene, only to find out that they had already left the company before I arrived.
Lastly, NSConference gave me the final kick: such an amazingly great amount of inspiring people that genuinely love what they do – you can’t just go back to your 11-7 job after experiencing that. Also, meeting customers that use your product and really love it is the sweetest thing ever.
I have no regrets on trying it, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity the job gave me – in fact it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me! It gave me the guts to go full indie, without even thinking about it. It helped me to figure out what I really want to do with my life.
So, what’s next? Well, I’ve got big plans with making PSPDFKit even better… and then there’s this other app idea that’s crossing my mind way too often. I’m building this for myself, because I really, really want it. And in the past, every time I have done something for myself, it turned out to be a great success. If you want to hear more about it, you should follow me on Twitter.
And about San Francisco, I’ll probably be back pretty soon. ;)