In the summer of 2011, I became interested in a consumer website. My friends helped me get in touch with the company and I spent some time with the CEO to determine if there was an interest in working together. While it turned out to be too early for a nontechnical role, I got to know some folks at the company — and one in particular was outstanding: Sahil Lavingia.
You may have heard of Sahil already. He’s @shl on Twitter. He’s built a few products before that now live on their own. He designs iOS apps in his spare time. He blogs and shares his opinions. He built the Turntable.fm iPhone app, and was part of the founding team of Pinterest. He was thinking of leaving a few months after we met. He wanted to do his own thing. I wondered why he didn’t want to stay at Pinterest, which was obviously taking off, was building a great brand, and was going to give him an awesome platform.
Nope, he wanted to do his own thing. After dropping out of college, moving up to the Bay Area, immersing himself in the community, and helping architect and design today’s fastest-growing social application, he wanted to turn one of his many projects into a company — and on his own. He asked for some help around meeting investors. I was very happy to do this. I sent a few intro emails that were really short — “hey, you gotta meet this kid, kick ass front end engineer and designer with a lot of ambition, ready to go out on his own.” My emails were returned within hours, and in a few weeks, he had his pick of some of the best early-stage and VC investors in the area.
In my short time here, I’ve helped a few people through this process, but no process so far has been as dynamic as Sahil’s. He always asked the right questions, checked in about ambiguous situations, and always followed up in the most polite ways. After he finalized his funding — which will be announced tomorrow — he asked me to advise his new company, Gumroad — to which I said, “Hell yes.”
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what will happen to Gumroad. It may take off and be one of the coolest innovations around links, or it may struggle to find its way. What I do know is that Sahil is a rare breed of creative talent — a maker — someone who just wants to build, and build, and build, and eventually one day, perhaps quite soon, he’ll again help build something that millions and millions of people worldwide simply want to use. So, congrats to Sahil for tomorrow’s announcement — and good luck!