Funding Friday: Hackers Are Creators

The Internet has given creators a lot of interesting ways to sustain their work and lives. USV has invested in some of them; Kickstarter, Drip, Etsy, SoundCloud, Shapeways, Splice, YouNow, Wattpad, and Skillshare. Other notable platforms for creators are YouTube and Patreon.

The typical creators who take advantage of these platforms are video artists, musicians, podcasters, crafters, designers, and inventors.

But hackers are also creators and they make a lot of interesting things that are worth supporting, even if they don’t turn into popular applications.

AVC community member Kevin Marshall is a great example of a hacker who is always building something new and interesting.

And he has a Drip page where you can support his work. He has 32 supporters as of today but I feel like he should have way more than that. He has made so many fun apps over the years that tens of thousands of people have used.

I really like the idea that hackers are creators and need the same kinds of services to support their work and themselves that other artists have. And I really appreciate Kevin showing the way here.


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    Everyone should support falicon, I’m on the dollar a month plan and am a happy supporter. Don’t miss out!

    1. falicon

      Thanks for this! A month in, and while I do the weekly posts and info dump…and have built one small thing…I feel like I haven’t provided nearly enough value yet (I’m planning on finally mailing out the 1st batch of physical things this weekend – attached is a picture of the pile I have to put together).So it’s really, really good to hear this!https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  2. jason wright

    hackerˈhakenoun1. a person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data.2. a person or thing that hacks or cuts roughly.”I build stuff…mostly software.””You give me money.”? No, that doesnt’ work. What’s the user’s raison d’etre here?

    1. falicon

      It’s not going to connect with everyone. I’m ok with that.

  3. andyswan

    Is this a paid blog? I like Kevin quite a bit but I don’t understand what I’m paying for.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      From what I understood watching his video, you would be helping him with his developer expenses, servers, subscriptions to tools, etc. Which means more time to code instead of doing ‘real work’ for others.Indie software developers are mostly underfunded which make a bunch of open source projects underfunded too. This is a big problem nobody talks about.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        The geospatial software community just saw the collapse of MapZen, showing us that even the “VC” or company backed efforts are at risk of failure too.

    2. falicon

      Awesome feedback – I will have to figure out a better way to communicate the idea and the experiment.Basically – it’s not going to get anything *specifically* built…it’s more just about supporting the environment/community in which I build things.The “what” will actually depend a lot on who is in that community and what *they* as a collective want to see get built.Like a traditional artist says, “back me so I can create more paintings”, I’m saying “back me so I can create more software”.The money part really just helps cover my monthly AWS bills and maybe some software subscriptions (like for Adobe CC)…these are things I have always just payed for out-of-pocket and would/will continue to do regardless of this experiment…and so in a lot of ways, the money part (from my end) is really just a way to let people self-identify as “true fans”.In fact, the reality is that I’m likely going to lose money on each backer (unless my community scales really large)…because I’m just doing stuff I think/hope they’ll enjoy and get value out of (and not with the idea of treating it like a transaction).

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Do you contribute much to open source? It might be cool to report about your open source contributions on your Drip. That’s one thing that I can easily see supporting via these funding platforms.I should have done the $100/mo!

        1. falicon

          I actually don’t contribute to open source nearly as much as I should – in my experience most of the ones I have an interest in are pretty involved and so you kind of have to be *really* into and a specialist of a specific problem to be of value (or have an insane amount of free time to commit to getting up to speed and involved).Perhaps I should pick one to really help with, and document the journey with, this year though.BTW – as a founding member backer, you of course get special access/treatment…so hit me with your ideas and/or challenges. Always happy to help however I can…no $100 tier required for you! 😉

  4. Woody Lewis

    I started my career hacking digital music (MIDI) code thirty years ago. After working with Digidesign and a couple of other audio/video companies, I switched to enterprise solutions. Worked with IBM and Cisco on both coasts, and a bunch of companies in between. Now ramping up in the blockchain space. Couldn’t do it without the hacker’s mentality.

    1. Vendita Auto

      “Couldn’t do it without the hacker’s mentality.” Agreed it is the mindset that legacy educational institutions should have been teaching ten years back

  5. panterosa,

    rock on @falicon!

  6. falicon

    Holy wow! Thanks for that mention and insanely kind words!Drip has been a really fun experiment for me so far and I’m really enjoying the tiny community it’s helped me put together and ideas it’s sparking (I’ve already built one small app specifically for helping me provide value to my backers; and have a few other side things I’m starting to collaborate on with some of my backers who have reached out with their own ideas — so VERY exciting).Probably most interesting learning/reminder of all so far though is:When money is barrier to entry, even at tiny amounts, you learn real quick who the ‘true’ fans and supporters are.Lots of people I thought were slam dunks to be backers have not shown up (even after direct asks/conversations with them about it)…while plenty of others I would have never thought would be backers jumped in right away (and, amazingly, at the higher tiers).Money makes the world a funny place.Regardless – it’s humbling to have even one person back me, and I’m excited for the challenge of giving them as much value as possible for their time, interest, and money through this next year.

    1. andyswan

      I wouldn’t take it as a slight. People expect value for value, as they should.I will write you a 4 figure check RIGHT NOW to develop an Alexa app for me, but $1/month to prove that I’m a “true” friend/supporter/fan, I don’t have any interest in.BTW — if anyone wants to prove how much of a supporter/fan of mine they are, my venmo username is andyswan 😉

      1. falicon

        I don’t take it as a slight – I was just saying it’s an interesting dynamic.Side note: My founding period is over now – but one of the things I offered during that 30 days was a $100/month tier…where essentially I helped you get whatever idea you wanted built. I intentionally kept it vague as part of my experiment, but for anyone that knows me and/or could read between the lines, I was essentially saying for a mere $1,200 I would have built you whatever you wanted this year. I even have one client I’m doing a project with/for that I kept nudging in this direction and they never bit…so instead, they are paying my normal consulting/dev rates (which is many multiples higher).

        1. andyswan

          I think your “writing between the lines” is more to blame than our collective ability to “read between the lines”, as there is no doubt in my mind I would pay $1200 in the next one minute for that product/service.

          1. falicon

            My $100/month tier (where I offered only 4 slots) was:Everything in the other tiers + access to my private github repo where most of my active & archived code is stored + help/advice/support building out one of YOUR ideas/interests.============When you giving away the kitchen sink, especially when you don’t really have the time/energy to do so, I thought it was better to be a little coy.Honestly, I’m relieved no one took that offer…my wife already gives me a hard time about all the “free” stuff I build/do/give away. 🙂

          2. jason wright

            it was a good offer though.

          3. falicon

            btw – I should also note that while I really like this drip experiment, I’m kinda horrible at, and really don’t like self-promotion.I have no problem pushing product, ideas, and the things I build…but in those cases I get to focus on the problems, solutions, and the value *the product* creates.This drip thing is a little awkward because in a strange way “I’m” the product I’m supposed to push…that’s a weird place for me…so I prob. went too soft on that and tried to focus on the things I’ve built and the ideas we’ll explore rather than just trying to get people to “buy in on me”…which, honestly, I still feel very strange about when I think about it.

          4. LE

            I’m kinda horrible at, and really don’t like self-promotion.As far as self promotion I am reminded of my sister in law as well as my sister (one is an opera singer, one is an artist). They think the world will just beat a path to their door because they are just so good. It’s a necessary evil because ‘you can only be as honest as…’ and guess what that’s what the competition is doing. They are shoveling as hard and as fast as they can. I can point to countless examples also of people who made money doing what I have done simply because they relied on (what I thought) was the stupidity of people and how gullible they are. “I am the leader in XYZ”. “I am the king of XYZ”. And while I laughed others believe it (newly hatched reference).So sure I can hold my head high and all of that bullshit but quite frankly I’d really rather have the spoils since let’s face it nobody (but your own brain) really cares about any of that. If you don’t think this is true try calling someone and see how fast they answer vs. Elon Musk who (in true Steve Jobs fashion) does a great deal more to toot his horn than just build rockets or electric cars. But I would argue he’d never be doing that if he wasn’t also full of shit. (Ditto for certain politicians).If you write to me offline I will explain why I didn’t support this (and I typically would have..)Generally this is not true for sports (the results are what matters then the world beats a path to your endorsement door) but even there there are exceptions (Ali, Bobby Riggs etc.)

          5. falicon

            Don’t mistake my disdain for self-promotion as a lack of confidence or lack of willingness to put myself out there and make a sale.I’m a developer because I love building more than selling…but I’m in, and have survived in, the startup world because I have unshakable self-confidence and am willing to do whatever is necessary to help the team win.No doubt I *could* be more famous, and no doubt I could do more to build the “Kevin Marshall” brand…but I have been really lucky in that I’ve never really struggled to have GREAT opportunities that have let me love what I’m doing from behind the scenes and/or without having to be the real “face of the company”.I’m just happier (and better) at being a strong #2 or #3…but it doesn’t mean I won’t step up and lead if and when needed.Anyway – will email you because I would love to hear the story and am always interested in how you think…but honestly, no body is required to back my drip campaign and I am not bothered if someone says it doesn’t connect with them for whatever reason.It’s *my* drip campaign, but honestly it’s not about me putting food on the table…it’s really about what I can do for the people interested in what I do and/or how I do it…what I can build to entertain them or get them some extra value or fun out of their day.That won’t be something everyone connects with (actually it won’t be something most people connect with)…I’m OK with that.

          6. Mark Essel

            Great thread dig the varied perspective on nebulous support vs an exchange of value. I think you are on to something by leveraging Drip as a tool to help aim and focus your fun side hacks

          7. PhilipSugar

            I want to know what I get…..and I am willing to pay dearly. I tell people:You come to work for us because you want to:1. Work on a really interesting problem: 160 instances, 7 datacenters around the world, 100mm Members, 1B Financial Transactions, 5B Interactions.2. Come and work with really smart people that you are going to learn with and from3. Work with great technology and methods that we are going to teach you and train you4. Have a good environment that is devoid of bullshit: Politics, Meetings, etc (part of that is getting paid fairly)5. Have some fun.(my five finger rules of management, never more than five)Nobody, Nobody can take away from you what you can say you helped build, what you’ve learned, and the contacts that you’ve made. You will grow here no matter what.

          8. falicon

            That is awesome for business and for most transactions.IMHO @drip is (supposed to be) about the intangibles you get by being an insider/fan/part of the community of a creator.I think by definition that means smaller groups & appeal but also a much stronger emotional connection to the “artist” & the work.Money is involved…but it’s really just the filter or barrier to entry…the enforcing constraint if you will…it’s not supposed to be about the transaction.If that rules you out, it’s OK. A personal bummer because of course I would love to have you in and involved in the group…but OK.Regardless we’ll still have ways to discuss and debate fun stuff like we always have here.

          9. PhilipSugar

            I am at the Roll Up Your Sleeves Level.

          10. falicon

            I saw that come through. Put a huge smile on my face, so THANKS! I promise I will do everything I can to make sure you get good value out of it! 😉

          11. PhilipSugar

            You know I thought about this. This is why people need partners. Whether they be a personal or business partner.

          12. falicon


          13. kidmercury

            drip needs to give you more tools to be more expressive/interactive with your backers. i’m sure they are just doing the whole “MVP and iterate” thing, so hopefully/probably they will give you some more to work with and make it easier for you to create more value (not to suggest you are not doing enough of course 🙂 )

          14. falicon

            +1.There is a lot of stuff I can’t do in/on the platform yet that I would like to (code examples and walkthroughs, videos, podcasts, etc.)…they are going to release some better rich text support for the posts very soon, so at least my weekly posts can start to be a little more readable/usable…but reality is I will probably just have to push more into to handle my own needs/wants for the short term (my guess is they will build more to help the traditional artists and such that are on the platform right now; think many of my use cases are very tangent to the norm there right now.)

      2. Lawrence Brass

        I could hug you if you want. 🙂

  7. William Mougayar

    Gimme the goods, Kevin 🙂

    1. falicon

      So awesome!Btw, I can’t wait to be allowed into your crypto fund as well…I tried to sneak in but the whole U.S. thing wouldn’t allow it. So I’ve just been following along and doing tiny buys of the stuff you mention on the site. Very, very cool!

  8. Twain Twain

    Cool, a different form of Patreon.

  9. awaldstein

    Done!Glad to do this.

    1. falicon

      Thanks! Very much looking forward to having you involved and following along…I’m hoping you and I both can dig into some ‘software for community’ learnings and things through it.

  10. jason wright

    ‘Back the Hack’.- ‘Internet We’

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