I really connected with this post on AVC yesterday about side projects. The gist of the post is that we’re seeing less companies these days that started as spare-time side projects. One reason given is that there’s more work to do—to reach broad adoption you’ve got to build for all platforms. Another was that it’s easier to land seed money, so why not fundraise right now? I suspect there’s another reason too, which is that startups are more competitive than ever and it’s harder to justify experimental projects under duress.
Fred Wilson of AVC:
"My point is that experimentation is critical. We should have lots of it. Seed capital, venture capital, angel investments, angellist, YC, techstars, etc, etc are great and fund a ton of experimentation. But they do require a commitment of time (yours) and money (mine) that isn’t ideal in many cases."
Too much commitment up front can be dangerous.
Side projects have commitments too, but it’s the nature of these commitments that separates them from business-building. Side projects are commitments to experimentation. Companies are commitments to outcomes. Side projects become companies when a promising discovery meets available capital.