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The Story of Pieter Levels (Levelsio) & How This Solopreneur Become So Successful

In life, there are born winners and born losers — Pieter Levels is both. With more than 40 startups, he's one of the most prolific entrepreneurs I've seen. Today, let's shine a spotlight on this absolute go-getter of a man.
Updated December 29, 2023
The Digital Nomad Life of Pieter Levels, Generated with Midjourney
The Digital Nomad Life of Pieter Levels, Generated with Midjourney

When people say “entrepreneurs,” our first thought goes to famous people and their products. Mark Zuckerberg and Meta. Steve Jobs and Apple. Sam Altman and OpenAI

But, there’s something special about entrepreneurs who started a grassroots business and grew it. Then started another, and then another. These are the true hustlers: the proof that anyone can make it with enough skill, persistence, and determination. 

Pieter Levels is the perfect example of this mentality. One of the Indie Hackers I really look up to.

At first glance, he may seem like just another tech entrepreneur who stumbled into success, but his journey is far from ordinary. Levels took the road less traveled to get to where he is today – a self-made multi-millionaire with several thriving startups under his belt. 

So, where did he come from and what was his journey like? Let’s discuss.

What We Know Of His Past

Pieter Levels’ road to becoming a tech multi-millionaire is anything but conventional. He spent a part of his childhood coding in MS-DOS Batch, which he learned from a random Windows For Kids book. From this sentence, it may seem that he’s on track to be a software engineer from a young age, but that’s not where life will take him… yet.

When he was a teenager, he tried to become a graphic designer, but that was just another phase for Pieter. His first serious venture was his music career — for which he was able to make a decent living out of his YouTube channel. The music was a product of its time, but hey, it's still pretty good.

Around this time, Levels was completing his business degree in… let’s see, well, everywhere. He started it in Hogeschool Utrecht, then transferred to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, then moved to South Korea for three months to attend Korea University Business School, and then finally finishing his degree from Rotterdam's School of Management.

Among those, the one that left the biggest impact were his three short months in South Korea. It was his first time outside of Europe and he saw the insane potential of stepping outside his comfort zone. He saw what the other side of the world had to offer, and there was no going back.

Nomad List: Pieter's Big Break

After university, Levels sold 99% of his possessions to pack up his bag and move to Asia. He started embracing a digital nomad lifestyle and decided to go all-in on creating startups. But there’s one slight hiccup: he didn’t know how to code (for a living)

So, he started a challenge: Twelve startups in twelve months.

His theory was that you can learn how to code better by doing, rather than sitting in a class for seven hours a day. And that’s what he did, but still nothing really worked. That is, until he tweeted this:

From that tweet, he was able to crowdsource opinions from other digital nomads and consolidate them to create a database of sorts. Due to the traction the tweet was receiving, he decided to make this his next startup. And thus, the Nomad List was born.

Nomad List is a community resource specifically designed for digital nomads which includes data-driven insights and profiles into the best places to live in and work remotely. That’s the basic premise of the website but Levels has since tweaked the business model by also adding a subscription-based Slack server. 

Today, its estimated total 2023 revenue is $700,000. According to Levels’ Twitter bio, Nomad List is bringing him $40,000 per month (nearly $500k a year). Tell me that isn't crazy.

Pieter’s Other Successful Projects

After Nomad List, Pieter went on a roll. Here are some of his other successful projects:

RemoteOK

RemoteOK is an employment platform which aims to connect talented individuals with flexible career options. It caters to different niches such as programming, design, sales, customer support. This makes Pieter around $50,000 in monthly revenue.

InteriorAI

Interior AI is an AI-powered interior designer. It takes images of your home as an input and modifies them using prompts to get your next design inspiration. It’s currently generating around $43,000 in monthly revenue. Also insane.

PhotoAI

PhotoAI is a web and mobile application that uses your image as an input and generates portraits based on it. You can use it for yearbook photos, identification images, character creation, and more. It currently generates the most monthly revenue for Pieter at $72,000.

Rebase

Rebase is a platform which aims to assist digital nomads in moving to Portugal without the hassle of red tape and bureaucracy. According to Pieter, he aims to expand its services by also offering help to relocate to Spain and Dubai. The website’s closed for now, but it used to make up to $50,000 a month.

His Other Other Projects

It may seem like everything Pieter touches turns to gold, but I assure you that that’s not the case. He has his fair share of startups that he needed to shut down because of the lack of traction. You can check them all out here. Among those, here are some of my favorites:

  • Go F***ing Do It: A productivity application that lets the user set a goal and, if it’s not met, Levels will charge your credit card.
  • Tubelytics: An analytics dashboard for YouTube content creators.
  • Mute: A list of commonly muted words on social media.
  • Airline List: A travel platform that consolidates opinions on specific airlines. Think Digital Nomad, but for airlines and airports.

What Makes Him So Successful?

The secret ingredient to Pieter’s success is simple: make what you know.

Most of his startups are aimed towards digital nomads because he’s one of them. He saw what problems he could solve in the community and worked towards making a profitable solution.

He’s also unafraid of failure, something that sets him apart. He learned early on that most of his startups will fail — and that’s okay. As long as something sticks, he’s still going to be profitable in the long run.

In A Nutshell

Here’s a bitter pill to swallow: for every Pieter Levels, there’s about a hundred Average Joes who failed.

Should that discourage you from following in his footsteps? Absolutely not.

It's only failure if you give up. If you never give up, you haven't really failed – just pivoted.

Instead, use him as inspiration. The hardest part of making it into the industry is that constant loop of worrying if your idea is worth it.

Just do it, and if it fails, reassess and don’t let it get to you. Levels is living proof that success doesn’t always follow a predictable path — it follows the path of the bold.

After all, if he can do it with nothing but his laptop, backpack, and confidence in himself, what’s stopping you?

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Written by John Angelo Yap
Hi, I'm Angelo. I'm currently an undergraduate student studying Software Engineering. Now, you might be wondering, what is a computer science student doing writing for Gold Penguin? I took up studying computer science because it was practical and because I was good at it. But, if I had the chance, I'd be writing for a career. Building worlds and adjectivizing nouns for no other reason other than they sound good. And that's why I'm here.
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