As someone who’s taking up computer science, I’ve always heard about extraordinary men in technology. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sam Altman. These are people who have done everything right and become successful because of it.
But I’ve never been inspired by their stories. At least, not fully. At the end of the day, it’s survivorship bias. Instead, I want to hear about the men and women who succeeded in spite of their failure. Those who didn’t let their mistakes shape their trajectory.
Meet Alex West: The founder of CyberLeads. Before launching his lead generation service, he had 19 failed projects. But he persevered, and now he’s reaping the rewards.
So, who exactly is West and how did he manage to build multiple startups while working full-time as a developer? Let’s find out.
A Little Background on Alex West’s Past
When Alex West started studying computer science, he went through a phase most developers I know have experienced: being adrift.
In an interview with Prashant Choubey, a podcaster and founder of Aigenc, West revealed that he often called his father in tears during his university years because he didn’t love the grind that comes with software development. It was only when he realized that he could actually use this knowledge to create applications that he became obsessed — obsessed with creating the next Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. He wanted to become a tech giant.
But that changed when he saw a video from Pieter Levels and David Heinemeier Hansson, and realized that you don’t actually need to become a billionaire. You can build smaller projects and still be a millionaire while keeping your sanity and drive. And since then, that’s been his day-to-day life.
When you visit his website, West has this little feature called “time travel,” where he keeps a visible archive of his journey so far and how much he was earning.
- In 2018, his MRR was $100.
- In 2019, it’s $200.
- In 2020, it rose to $3000 following his success with EpilepsyBlocker and consequently being hired by a medical technology company.
- In 2021, it climbed to $8000 after a successful CyberLeads launch.
- In 2022, CyberLeads became a major player in lead generation which gave him $30,000 per month.
- And in 2023, CyberLeads grew bigger, now receiving upwards of $40,000 per month.
CyberLeads: Building A Successful Lead Generation Service
Around 2020, Alex West would start focusing on two markets: cybersecurity and lead generation. His first attempt was Cyberflake, a collaboration tool for penetration testers, but he eventually scrapped the idea once he realized that this market was far more technical than he will ever be.
After that, he started his attempt at making a lead generation service which aimed to connect startup founders to developers. This is…not CyberLeads.
That’s right. West had not one, not two, but three lead generation services before he made CyberLeads. These were the following:
- Scrapcat: An uptime monitor for web scrapers.
- Cyberhound: A service that generates leads for startups targeting developer markets
- Birdleads: A service designed for lead generation that alerts you when individuals discuss a specific topic on Twitter.
Unfortunately, none of these panned out. However, it did help solidify in Alex a core understanding of the market. This knowledge and wealth of experience helped him a lot when he created CyberLeads: a B2B lead generation platform that focuses on connecting digital agencies with startups. It’s currently generating half a million dollars per year.
What’s unique about the CyberLeads roadmap is we could trace Alex’s journey in developing this service from ideation to launch. This is because he has an active daily (well, almost daily) blog section in his website where he documents his life since January 2020. To save you the trouble of skimming through every post, here’s the gist of his milestones:
- January 27, 2020: He gets an idea for a B2B lead generation platform and immediately goes to work.
- February 14, 2020: He launches CyberLeads on Product Hunt.
- March 1, 2020: He sends the first lead list to his nine initial subscribers.
- March 27, 2020: He drops all his other side-projects and focuses solely on CyberLeads.
- April 22, 2020: He strikes gold with a viral tweet which caused more people to be aware of CyberLeads. From there, he spent months optimizing his lists and interface, and ensuring customer retention.
In December 2020, he made this post, essentially outlining all the reasons why his sole focus moving forward is CyberLeads. There’s no going back after that. CyberLeads slowly but steadily gained new customers who valued human analysis when it came to lead generation.
By 2022, West was already making $1000 per day, which was twice what he earned as a full-time software developer in Greece. But he’s not satisfied yet. He wants more.
His Side Projects
Like Pieter Levels, West also has a long list of side projects that have either failed at launch or discontinued due to lack of interest. Here are some of them:
- Telemonetize: A Telegram extension that enables you to monetize your conversations.
- GitGardener: Automates GitHub commits to make your contribution boxes green.
- EpilepsyBlocker: A web browser extension that automatically terminates any video or GIF that may induce seizures induced by photosensitive triggers.
- AngelStep: A similar lead generation platform to CyberLeads that aims to connect startups with possible investors, and vice versa.
Alex West’s Goals for 2024
Alex West’s goals for this year are simple: stay the course and keep growing. To be more specific, here are his plans for 2024:
- Grow a business to $1 million annual revenue while working only two hours per day.
- Get 10,000 subscribers on every social media platform.
- Write about his journey.
That’s it. No big promises or new products. He just wants to grow what he already has and ensure it flourishes in this competitive landscape.
Alex West's story shows that perseverance and focus are key ingredients for success.
Rather than chasing quick wins or viral fame, West is taking the patient path of building something sustainable over time, even if it is a little bit boring. Remember: it doesn’t always have to be flashy, it just has to be useful.
The tech industry glorifies overnight success stories. But Alex West demonstrates that slow and steady progress is just as rewarding. By sticking to his vision, he was able to turn his passion into a thriving business. There are no shortcuts, but with grit and determination, it is possible to achieve your goals one small step at a time.