Hi, I’m Louie Bacaj.

I write this newsletter with lessons & wisdom acquired from my journey into entrepreneurship. And from others on this journey as well.

This newsletter is free.

  • You’ll get a weekly post from me that includes:

    • An essay

    • A few curated posts from others

    • A few curated memes

A lot of the advice and dogma on entrepreneurship, especially for engineers, is to start a Startup and take VC dollars. 

It's like that old engineering joke, "If it doesn't scale, then what's the point?"

Somehow, we became convinced that the venture-backed path was the only path into entrepreneurship for anyone serious. They made it all seem so simple: make something people want, get the money from VCs, and fulfill your dreams. 

But the last decade of this mindset has produced anemic companies, many of which are worth far less many years after their IPO. Think Uber, think WeWork, and so many more. And some of which are completely gone. 

I am paraphrasing Nicholas Nassim Taleb here in an interview he did with Bloomberg: The last decade of cheap interest rates and abundant VC dollars encouraged businesses that can be dumped on the average investor. And it exacerbated wealth inequality. So, the dogma of doing a startup and scaling benefits VCs far more than founders.

As Charlie Munger said, "You've got to rub your nose in your mistakes to learn from them." I, too, believed this dogma about Startups and sought those venture dollars. I drank the cool-aid. I put on the shackles of a tiny salary, and I took on the many VC bosses. I ate the ramen. All for a chance at the dream. And it was a huge mistake.

But think about the businesses and the founders we admire. Many started small in a Garage somewhere and only took venture dollars if they needed them to go faster. I blame myself for believing the idea that you start entrepreneurship by getting funded. And the wasted personal resources early in my journey are what I deserve.

But in a lot of ways, I am lucky. 

I stumbled into community of other people not trading everything away, including their freedom, to chase a pipe dream. I quickly internalized that there is no one-way to succeed in business, and no one truly "knows." So I am lucky because the unfortunate thing is a lot of software engineers turned entrepreneurs bang their heads against the wall for years, eating ramen, trading away all their freedom for a tiny shot. When they have good odds to build things that make money, are sustainable, and open new opportunities to layer on wins for themselves.

But I changed my ways. And now, I am making money as an entrepreneur. I made $100k on my own in 2022 and am on track to make over $200k in 2023. And I set myself up to keep placing small bets and keep trying in business. And the lesson for me, as an engineer, was that an early venture-backed business is not the only way to be an entrepreneur.

And that is what I will be exploring in this newsletter. My journey and the journey of others into business. They are journeys that do not involve trading away all your freedom for years just for a shot at your dreams. 

If it makes enough money to give you a great lifestyle and gives you freedom, who cares if it doesn't scale?

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About Me

Bootstrap Themes

I am a Software Engineer and former Engineering Leader who recently turned Entrepreneur.

I used to manage many engineering teams. I invest in and operate a few rental properties.

I write. And I teach others to get started with newsletters through the Small Bets Community with my friend Chris Wong.

I still love building software and apps. I am co-owner of https://smallbets.co and built that with my partner, Daniel Vassallo.

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Sharing the journey from Software Engineering Employee to Entrepreneur. Hard-earned lessons to Motivate you. And some Memes for the laughs.

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Louie Bacaj

Engineer turned Entrepreneur.