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Stefan started Mini Startups in 2020. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on Mini Startups?
What’s my backstory? Where do I start? :)
Growing up, I was always an oddball. Sometimes I was quiet, other times inquisitive, but often I was just weird. I was passionate about one thing: outer space. After starring in an elementary school mockumentary that got published by NASA, I decided that I never wanted to give up on my dream of becoming an astronaut. So, I became a biochemist/pilot in college and then graduated to work at NASA as an Analyst.
Selling begins on Day One. Don’t build your idea then hope it works. Build a prototype or even a napkin drawing, and start selling before you build anything.
I was originally planning to become an aerospace medicine physician, or space doctor, at NASA. However, I quickly realized just how difficult it was to become an astronaut through the ASCAN Corps (the acceptance rate is extremely low). Thus, after just a few months of working at NASA and dropping out of medical school, I decided to start my own enterprise, Martian.
The goal of this company? To self-fund my way to fly in space. I figured the probability was higher if I either a) made enough money to pay for a ticket, or b) started my own space company.
Martian was initially an app company. We built iOS/Android apps. The apps I built ended up getting the attention of Apple, which landed me a contract position with them in Austin, Texas. However, after only 2 months and a few days of working there, I was fired. Why? Well, I attempted to start a top-secret “SkunkWorks” experimental R&D division within Apple, kinda like Google or Lab126 at Amazon. Without getting into details, let’s just say my boss was not pleased with me commandeering her employees. Got fired within 24 hours. Oh well. I’m glad I was fired, because I couldn’t build apps or work on other projects there, anyway.
Some of the notable projects we’ve worked on at Martian include a symptom tracker for chronically ill patients, a wristwatch prototype that doubles as a blood pressure monitor, a smart hoodie made out of recycled plastic bottles, and even the world’s simplest meditation app.
As we started working on more projects, and by we I mean me and friends/contractors, I decided it was time to turn Martian into a holding company… Kinda like Richard Branson’s Virgin Company. If I had any shot at going to Mars, it’s because we’ve tried and failed 1000’s of times with 100’s of companies. Maybe one day... a Martian Rocket Company?
At its core, Martian is a reminder. A reminder that you are unique in your own way. Maybe you’re from Mars. Maybe you’re from a different galaxy. Whatever it is that makes you different, it’s important to realize that it’s OK to be who you are. And do it unapologetically. The people who change the world are seldom rule-followers. They tend to bend/challenge the status quo in some way. Martian’s mission is to empower the world and do the impossible.
Wait, hold up. How do Mini Startups fit into all of this? Why “Mini”? Mini because everything starts off small. As much as I love working on grand challenges, what I’ve realized over the last 5 years is that you have to start off small to go BIG. Mini baby steps, if you will.
Mini Startups is an online community that helps you build your first, second, or 15th tech company. A mini tech company. A company that doesn’t require a $500k seed round or a technical co-founder. We have noobies all the way up to seasoned veterans in our Slack channel.
The Mini Startups online course is divided into 4 modules: Design, Business, Legal, and Growth Hacking (Marketing). No coding is necessary, because I never learned how to do it.
The long term goal of Mini Startups is to help other people launch their companies, and in exchange, founders reward me with equity as an angel investor/advisor. I love this strategy because it’s a positive sum-game. We both win. As I help new entrepreneurs get started/scale, Mini Startups gets rewarded on the back-end.
Positive-sum game theory is a real thing. :)
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater