Bootstrapping RemoteHub as a Solo Founder

I’m Rauno Metsa, a solo founder bootstrapping RemoteHub – a place to discover the best remote jobs and learn about remote work from the leading distributed teams.

I’ve been working on my website for almost a year now. I’ve added many features, and removed as much – bootstrapping a startup is an ever changing process. 

I’m happy that RemoteHub is making its first revenue of $2,500/mo and there is a growing community of remote work enthusiasts joining the site, and I’m sad that a lot of people are writing to me that they’ve lost their job due to COVID-19 and as spending their last money on groceries are now looking for a remote job.

I enjoy making stuff on the Internet, and RemoteHub is my contribution to the remote work revolution that’s happening right now.

Mapping remote company locations

Showing remote team locations on a map was the initial and only functionality I had on RemoteHub when I first launched it on Product Hunt in 2019.

Since then, companies on RemoteHub have added more than 2,500 cities from 120 countries they work from.

When you’re planning to join a remote team, it can be useful to know if they have members in your city so you could occasionally work together from a coffee shop or share a co-working space.

Building a list of remote companies

To help people find their next remote team to join, I’m building a list of companies working remotely. There are currently 1,323 companies in my list and you can use 30+ filters to narrow down your search.

For example, you can find remote companies with different benefits like health insurance and flexible working hours or choose to see only companies with remote-first culture or all-remote teams without an office at all.

Learning from remote companies

While a lot of companies have been recently forced to work from home almost overnight due to COVID-19 and this is a huge experiment for many, a lot of teams have been working remotely for years, from the convenience of their homes. 

These companies are leading the remote work revolution by showing the way to effective workflows and processes in a distributed team. I think there’s a lot to learn from them, and it’s nice to see that the remote community is very friendly and open about sharing their learnings.

I’ve so far interviewed more than 30 remote companies who gave me 240+ answers about how they work remotely in their distributed teams.

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned about remote work is that it’s not just about working from home. Rather, it’s a way of life by blurring the boundaries between work and rest of life and integrating them for a calmer and more meaningful life experience.

Working from home

I’ve been working from home before I knew it was called working from home. Even when I had my first coding job 10 years ago, I often didn’t show up at the office and instead stayed at home with my headset on to finish my coding tasks. The days I was at the office were rather spent on socialising with the team and brainstorming on ideas.

I’m now working from my 2-bedroom apartment with my wife and two small daughters. I often find myself working in the living room to be in the middle of the family life. This is the place where I can drink my coffee and work on small improvements that don’t need my full attention.

For writing or other tasks that do need my full attention, I’ve set up a workspace in the bedroom next to my bed. My desk is easily convertible to a modern standing desk with the help of my daughter’s small chair. When bootstrapping a startup, you need to be creative!

All my metrics are public

Although I’m still in the very beginning of my startup journey and I don’t have the experience and revenue that other startups have, I still think it’s important to share our stories. If there weren’t solo founders sharing their journeys, I probably wouldn’t have started my own solo startup. These stories showed me that this was a possibility that I’d otherwise not known.

I run RemoteHub as an Open Startup which means I share all it’s metrics publicly, including revenue and traffic numbers. You can see in real-time how many users have signed up, how much traffic the site gets and how much money I make.

Start creating your own

I’ve set up this automatic email that asks people why they signed up and around 20% answer.

Most of the people are looking for a remote job, and many of them are struggling with COVID-19 consequences recently. There are people whose work involves large groups of people, like theater artists and they’re living from their savings. They’re hoping to find a remote job that they could work on from their homes.

Competition for remote jobs can be intense, but there are still a lot of remote jobs available! And I see many more companies starting to hire their first remote team members.

The internet is full of resources to learn new skills for a remote job. Like freeCodeCamp where you can learn to code, for free. There are also a lot of great initiatives from companies like ConvertKit, who launched their almost $200k Creator Fund to help creators in need during COVID-19.

Now can be a good time to start creating your own content, whether it be a startup or an online class teaching the skills you’re good at. And this can lead to a profitable online business that will pay for your expenses for the rest of your life!