Primoz Cigler on Business and Code

Retiring at 30 – a year later (or a year before?)

It’s this time of the year again. In last year’s announcement I wrote how I wanted to take sabbatical year when I turn 30.

Boy, one year’s around and I have no idea whether I’m closer to the goal and doing it already or on the totally different track.

For more than half a year, this blog didn’t get any attention because my focus shifted 180 degrees. In July 2018, we made a decision at ProteusThemes that we don’t pursue the same idea with WordPress themes the way we did so far. With Jaka, we started searching for a new business idea. Actually found a very interesting problem for solving: helping people write copy for websites. But defining it as a product we’d be able to build in a reasonable time was too tough challenge. In the following months, when when Jaka an I were solving the product-market fit, Gregor and Marko were developing pet projects and learning new technologies. But then we saw that it will take us much more time than we’ve anticipated to crack the product-market fit and our earnings from ProteusThemes were on the edge of our expenses. We decided to let our core development go.

I told the team about the inevitable facts just before I departed to 2 months Chicago exchange.

But there was another reason that lead events shifting so rapidly. Last year I wrote:

I want to spend a year doing the things most people wish they’d do in their lifetime but never find time to do them. Things like travelling around the world. Things like writing a book. Things like building my own tiny house with your bare hands. Things like opening the shop with Manca without the packaging and plastic waste.

In September, Manca and I tested the interest in Slovenia for the zero waste shop with the video we posted on Facebook. It went viral, in 2 days 600k people saw it (no adspend). We were covered in all major national media.

Well, what to do with such a market feedback?

My first promise to Manca was that I’ll help her with the store – with marketing and finances, especially. Help her for 2-3 hours a day, if needed. Well, soon after returning from US, I saw that there is no way I could handle building two startups at the same time and I’ll need to decide to put all my focus and energy in one.

It was a hard decision. I loved working on Rifuzl, but at times it was (*still is) very tiring and stressful. On the other hand, building a digital startup nowadays is not short of difficult and stressful as well. But at the end, after investing so much money and energy to Rifuzl, the decision was to put Rifuzl first and everything else second. Which essentially meant putting Rifuzl first and not even touching anything else for months. On December 24, 2018, we’ve opened the shop:

“How you’re doing?”, is what I hear every day. Well, I must say that pretty good. It’s a totally different business and many people recommended me to stay away from it and that I will regret it. There were many times I understood what they meant. But there are more moments, when I am so glad that I decided the way I did.

The timing for opening such shop is perfect. We are working on (and in) the business that has a deeper meaning and a huge impact. We’re seeing happy faces walking in the shop every day.

It’s just beautiful and rewarding! 🙂

I’ve probably given over dozen of speeches this year already about Rifuzl, including a TEDx talk.

The only thing that’s annoying me that we’re not profitable yet. Retail industry is tough. You make a ton of revenue, but margins are slim – that said, if you want to run an affordable shop, not luxury one. But after 5 months, we’re getting close to the break-even point and I’m looking forward to a month when we make a profit, which will be a confirmation for us that we can have a business that has enormous positive impact on people and environment and at the same time it is sustainable as well. Because only a profitable business is sustainable on a long run. Everything else doesn’t count.

To some extent, it feels like I’ve reached my “30 years old Primož” goals a year earlier. On the other hand, it seems like I’m all over at the beginning and I’ve postponed them for 10 years. But in any way, even though that there were days when I’ve been doing handyman stuff on Sunday evenings in Rifuzl, I know for certain that I am more happy now than I would be now in ProteusThemes if we were still struggling with the same problems we had for years.

That’s all there’s about: know your destination, but – more importantly – make sure you enjoy the ride there!

I walked the talk and I’ll walk it further.

1 existing year to go. Cannot wait to read these lines the next year!

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A software engineer transitioning to a digital marketer and entrepreneur. Walking the talk. Windsurfer, digital nomad.