In 2013, after managing to liberate myself from my corporate job, I found myself in a very fortunate position.
For two years, I worked alone and did well for myself, even earning a six-figure annual income--but I was hungry for more.
Since I was a complete "noob" in this new online world, I decided it was time to meet other successful affiliate marketers. This is how I found my 24-year-old self on a plane from Budapest to Las Vegas in January 2014 to attend the Affiliate Summit West conference.
I was here to meet other successful affiliates and to try to learn what was possible--and I wanted to meet with the company that was sending me my commission checks every month.
My affiliate manager arranged a dinner with me and the CEO of the company. I put on a nice suit and expected a serious evening ahead.
As I arrived at the restaurant, I was greeted by the CEO, who turned out to also be a 24-year-old kid. I had no idea that the company I made my full-time income promoting was run by someone my age.
Since we were kids in Las Vegas, we found ourselves in a nightclub (his treat) where he arranged bottle service. Flavor Flav even showed up for some drinks.
As we made our way through several bottles of vodka and attempted to make conversation by shouting in each other's ears, I couldn't shake the thought that I was promoting a company run by someone my own age.
I was too drunk to shake the idea: "Heck, if he could do it, so could I."
At that point, I'd been living in Budapest for several years. I'd already asked several local computer programmers if they could help me build a piece of software (which would eventually end up up powering my future company, Buffered).
One of those programmers seemed particularly promising, but he was taking a months-long vacation in Thailand at the time. So I did what any sane person would do: I flew from Las Vegas back to Budapest, packed a bag, and in less than 24 hours took a flight to Thailand to (successfully) convince him to join.
We returned to Budapest, where we worked from home for the first couple months--literally from my spare bedroom. I committed every last penny I had to salaries, startup costs, and putting the company together.
Nine months after the conference in Las Vegas, we had the first version of our software ready. We launched Buffered in September 2014, and in that moment, I realized: If we don't started making money quickly, I'm going to go broke.
I wish I could tell you that it was all rainbows and sunshine from that point on, but the company struggled from the start. I almost did go broke. After all, I'd never run a software company before.
Still, I was determined to succeed and keep the project going, which is exactly what I did for the next three years. The company eventually became a million-dollar business, from which I was able to successfully exit in February 2017.
Starting Buffered was one of the riskiest things I've ever done. I had a comfortable and profitable life as an affiliate marketer, and running a software company was anything but easy.
I really can't complain about the result.