Basic Income Is Coming

Basic Income
Basic Income by Christopher Andrews (CC-BY-NC)

Basic income is an unconditional income given equally to all people of a country just for being alive. Lately it seems that the idea is being talked about more and more, and perhaps this is a sign that basic income is becoming mainstream and more widely recognized. The most recent big example was when Y Combinator created some buzz because they announced that they would sponsor a five-year study on basic income. This is quite unprecedented for a company that traditionally funds early-stage startups.

It is not only companies and bloggers that are showing interest for basic income. Some countries are warming up to the idea as well. In Finland, the majority of the public seem to support basic income and the current government has committed to investigating the feasibility of introducing it to the country. A few cities in The Netherlands will run a pilot program to test basic income. Switzerland is going as far as having a public vote on June 6 regarding whether to introduce basic income (press release in German) and the public opinion seems to also favor Basic Income here.1

I cannot remember when I first heard about basic income, but I do remember that I was almost immediately convinced that it was a good idea. To me, basic income combines both traditional left- and rightwing ideals, for example having the personal freedom to not work and ensuring as a society that all people are equal in terms of the basic means to survive and avoid poverty. I do not want to get too much into the philosophical, political and economical arguments for and against basic income here though, and to be honest, one of the main reasons I support basic income is that it just feels right.

I truly hope that basic income is introduced universally in my lifetime. The big question is: Will it work in the long run? With increased automation and technological advances, I believe that it will. But there might also be unforeseen consequences of a basic income that will reduce the feasibility in the short term. No matter what, it will be exciting to follow the progress of the various ongoing projects and see what they lead to.

More information

Basic Income Earth Network aggregates news and articles about basic income and is a good starting point for further information about arguments for basic income and the feasibility thereof.


  1. The article is slightly biased but my German is rusty so I cannot fact check the original survey :-)  

What happened next

Future Or Bust!
Future Or Bust! by Paul Hocksenar

In July last year (2014), I started working full-time on Antecons. Back then, I wrote a post about complete independence where I predicted that I could support myself for up to half a year without income. This turned out to be true, but now that we have entered a new year, it is time for an update. This is an update that I was nervous about until very recently where a story about monetary failure took an interesting turn for the better.

The challenge

A lot of people try to hide their failures, myself included. Being afraid of failure, taking risks and facing challenges, it seems like a very weird and poor life choice to give up a lucrative and comfortable position as a consultant to work without income and earning potential for an extended period of time. The explanation is simple though: Things were starting to get fun.

When Antecons launched on Shopify in 2013, it was mostly developed while doing freelance consulting work. Having a high-revenue commercial product was never really the goal. I simply wanted to see if it was possible for me to start something from scratch and make it through all the way to a finished product and not just an abandoned side-project.

When the first few customers started coming in, I realized that this product might have some potential, and it was quite a different feeling having customers that bought a service rather than buying my labor. It was… fun. So I started working on Antecons full-time in July with the vision of slowly building up a list of stable clients. I had a good relationship and regular contact with a webshop house, and they sounded very interested in offering Antecons to their webshop customers so I pushed towards a first “revenue milestone” with them as a re-seller. It was a great Summer and I built an API beta that I was satisfied with offering to potential buyers.

Fail

My plan failed. It turned out that nothing came out of my contact with the webshop re-seller and in the meantime, Shopify sales only increased very slowly. Antecons was even featured on the front page of the Shopify app store, but there were disappointingly few signups.

There is no need to go into great detail about the technicalities, because the main problem was that I neglected sales too much so I failed to sell. That makes sense now, but I did not realize it soon enough… so I failed. Period. The end.

Late Fall came, I was not making any money and the product was not going to generate significant revenue anytime soon. I had to take on a few hours of consulting work again to pay the bills which meant that I had less time to work on Antecons and in the beginning of December, I was hired full-time as a Python developer for Neodev.

I had mixed feelings about starting a new job, because it felt like a defeat to stop working on Antecons. Both the job and my colleagues were great though, and it was sometimes quite difficult to explain to friends and family how having a rewarding and well-compensated job could still feel a bit like a step back or a let-down. Nevertheless, it was difficult to leave Antecons behind. As it turned out though, the departure was short-lived.

An unexpected journey

It was exactly one day after signing my new contract that I was contacted by Adii, a successful entrepreneur with experience in the e-commerce field. Adii was looking for a recommendation engine to improve a product upsell feature in a young startup called Receiptful. Initially, I was skeptical and without hope, because I had basically given up on monetizing Antecons since it was not making any real money. But after a few weeks of communication, we decided to work together and I was “acquihired” (yes, that is a real word) and Antecons was revived before it had even drawn its final breath.

Fast forward to today and I have been with Receiptful for a month, working on integrating Antecons as part of the Receiptful system. It is really great to be able to work on Antecons and data analysis in a full-time position and it has also presented some new challenges, but that is a topic for a different post.

Working independently was a great experience. It was an unexpected journey with an unexpected ending. A new and different chapter has now begun: Life in a startup.