Fake it till you make it

Why we chose to build in public.

It’s launch week.

Almost 200 days ago, the first steps towards creating Mastermind and making it a reality started to take shape.

I quit my job of 7 years last month and took a trip to Uruguay with my wife Tori to get lost. My mind had been racing nonstop since deciding to move forward with Mastermind – I needed a think week.

Think weeks slow down life and act like a pop up blocker to the daily routines that demand my attention. Think weeks are when I finally obtain stillness — and, in these moments, I form my best ideas.

From time-to-time, teasers to these think weeks show up while taking a shower or during a long drive in the car but starting a business required several days of uninterrupted deep work.

To give the setting, this first newsletter was written while spending the prior few days mentally resetting and hunkering down in Faro de José Ignacio, Uruguay. There are no direct flights to Uruguay from the United States. Once you connect by plane into the capital city of Montevideo, you have to rent a car and then drive 2 hours towards the border of Brazil to this fishing village that more recently has gained popularity with vacationers from Argentina.

May is one of the dullest travel months for this area which led to Tori and me being the only guests at this small inn throughout our stay. Each day, I would take my laptop down to the library of the hotel, sit by the wood-burning fireplace and indulge in the world’s darkest coffee roast to the background effects of 40 mph wind gusts and crashing ocean waves — I had found my think week.

Posada del Faro in Jose Ignacio, the site of some big-brained moments last week

Building in public is not a novel idea but I have only seen it tried a few times. For it to be effective, it requires near total transparency and a rigid schedule of updates. Treat the readers as investors in the company, and give them access to semi-private data points as if they were employees.

The primo example of building in public is Tyler Denk, the founder of beehiiv, the platform used to send this exact email and that competes with juggernauts like Mailchimp and Substack. Tyler and I are not connected (yet) but I feel that I know his vision for beehiiv on a personal level thanks to the openness he has communicated to his followers through his newsletter.

beehiiv is nearing $10M ARR and announced its Series B just last month. If you like this style of entrepreneurship, I recommend you subscribe to Tyler’s newsletter Big Desk Energy linked below. 👇

Big Desk Energystartup insights, stories, and vibes sent to your inbox every Tuesday

Building in Public

Lesson #1: You are the company, and the company is you.

Previously, if you made a mistake, you have the air cover of a bigger machine that guarantees payroll every two weeks. Now, the company is a reflection of what you put into it.

Suddenly, work is very personal.

It is not only gambling on your knowledge and your ability to succeed. It is betting that you can create something iteratively different and that the customers within your target market even want something different.

A good friend (CG) shared this quote, and it captures the essence of this phase of building that I refer to as the fake it till you make it stage.

Be like a duck: calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.

Michael Caine

Call it assembling the plane while you are flying it, or whatever.

This shit is hard.

These last few months and in states of panic, I attempted to isolate what exactly was unnerving about starting Mastermind. My anxiety was not rooted in one specific thing, but rather an unconsciousness, or, better said, the things that I did not know I needed to be worrying about.

  • S-Corp vs. C-Corp vs. Single-Member LLC but the last one is a “disregarded entity”

  • Do I need a registered address or can my house be the principal location?

  • How do I decide on a color palette and a brand guide?

  • Why did Chase bank only give me a $3,000 credit card limit?!

Building in public is about sharing the behind-the-curtains moments. When things look well-constructed, this open newsletter format shows readers the Instagram vs. reality.

The company launch video required 3 weeks of edits with a designer in India. Completely worth it, but sending ACH payments over Wise when Mastermind has no revenue is not for the faint of heart.

Other expenses you can expect if you decide to take the founder’s plunge:

  • GoDaddy/WordPress: $239

  • Letterhead: $420 (designer in Pakistan)

  • Swag: $554 😎

  • QuickBooks: $622

  • Registration Fees: $624

  • beehiiv: $767

  • Insurance: $2,723

  • Website Design: ~$4,000 (developer in Indonesia)

  • Professional Association Membership: $5,000

The above is a tiny sample of these initial expenses. As of this writing, we’ve spent $35,000+ starting this thing before collecting our first dollar.

But, we did it.

It’s here, and it’s launch week.

The Daily Show Boom GIF

Whether you are a personal friend, an old coworker, a customer, a competitor, my parents, or you stumbled across this newsletter on your LinkedIn feed amongst so many truly humbled connections, thanks for giving a shit.

Now, let’s go make a million bucks.

David 🧠

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