Cushion is seven years old today. I knew the anniversary was coming up, but it really crept up on me this time. Seven years is an incredibly long time in internet years. When I first started working on Cushion, most of the libraries and frameworks that I rely on now—like Vue.js, Yarn, Jest, and Cypress—didn’t even exist yet. Now, these are all household names (for devs), but it’s a fascinating thought that when you finally have an idea worth pursuing, you can only use what’s available at the time.
When I think about the past seven years, I also think about the various “eras“ that made up that time period and how, in some ways, I’m returning to the beginning. For Cushion’s first couple years, I was on my own—bootstrapping Cushion with the occasional freelance gig. Then, I felt the need to bring on more help, so I took funding, hired a few folks, and spent the next couple years trying to grow Cushion to afford us. That never ended up happening, so we ran out of funding and returned to bootstrapping. I quickly learned that bootstrapping for a team is infinitely more difficult than bootstrapping for myself, so this period only lasted a year before I burned out, almost ran out of money, and had to quickly find a job.
At this point, Cushion could’ve become yet another app that never took off but remained online in an obviously neglected form—with no recent updates, blog posts dated years ago, and support that gets back to you days later. That actually felt like the case for a solid year, as I desperately needed a clean break, or what I’m now calling a “sabbatical”. I remember not wanting to even look at Cushion because I saw it as a constant reminder that I failed—in five years, I couldn’t build an app that could pay for its team. What a rotten way to think.
After a year doing the bare minimum to keep the lights on, I entertained a design exercise. I spent an evening designing what I imagined Cushion would look like if I started now. I remember feeling a lightning strike of creative energy that made time disappear. Hours went by before I came up for air and found myself with Cushion’s future. While working on Cushion, I always thought about how I’d never have the energy to pursue another idea, but a friend told me, “Give it time. You’ll get the itch again.” Well, I got the itch again, but for the same idea.
Cushion might be seven years old, but I can’t help but feel like this is still the early years. I’ve talked before about how I now consider Cushion a “lifetime project”, where I can plan in terms of years or decades—the month-to-month sprint simply doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Instead, I want to maintain a rhythm that lets me casually work on Cushion, consistently write about it, and actively keep up with users. As a bonus, if I could never feel like I’m relying on Cushion’s income to keep me afloat, then that would be the icing on the cake. So, here’s to the next seven years—I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.