Leo Trieu

My 2020 Review: The $1M Journey of a stay-at-home Dad (or Dev)

5 min read

I was about to share my review for 2020 but suddenly noticed that it’s already been 5 years since I quit my full-time job and jumped into an uncertain journey (Oct 2015 - Oct 2020).

Writing has never been something that I’m proud of. It’s much much easier for me to write 10,000 lines of code than a 500-word blog. English is not my native language so please excuse my terrible writing. All I wanted is simply sharing, sharing, and sharing so let’s read on and feel the energy of what I’m going to share instead, #haha.

To quickly recap the status up to this point (over 5 years):
  • Revenue I’ve made: $1M+
  • Revenue streams: selling courses + launching Kickstarter + affiliate + partnership
  • Hour of all video courses: 200+ hours
  • Students: 200K+ (including other code school platforms)
  • Countries: 45
  • Successful Kickstarter campaigns: 4


Wow, what a one-man-show business! You might think…

No, not anymore. Or at least, this year. Let me be damn REAL with you for a minute!!!

2020 has sucked… financially


  • Revenue: has gone down significantly (to only $3.4K MRR at the time)
  • Active subscribers: only 71
  • Churn rate: OMG, I don’t even want to talk about this. Totally nightmare!!!


For the first time since starting this business 5 years ago, I see a significant decline in growth.

Looking at all of the tweets, LinkedIn posts, blog posts in your newsfeed reporting a massive growth over this challenging period might make you feel like you’re dumped.

Man, you’re not alone. Trust me, I feel the exact same way.

This is a real adventure

But looking back and reflecting on the road that I’ve been through, this is not only a business but also an adventure where I learned so many valuable things along the way.

  • From a person who knows coding only to a guy running a business with marketing and sales skills.

  • From an international student working for $9/h in a restaurant to survive to a founder who can even make $12K in an hour (that was the first hour of my 2017 Kickstarter launch).

  • Along the way, so many students even became my friends. Quite a lot of them are devs, indie hackers, and entrepreneurs and we built up a tribe here.

  • Suddenly I became a so-called “crowdfunding expert” and people started connecting and asking for advice and partnership from Japan, Hongkong, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Start Small, Stay Small

I just love this adventure. It’s exactly what I had dreamed of:
  • Freedom
  • Do what I passionate about whenever I want wherever I go
  • And more importantly, having fun and fulfilling with whatever I do

I’m not the kind of guy who is super ambitious to build a unicorn or make a million-dollar business or have a team of 10 working for. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet dream for most founders out there and a great way to go.

It’s just not me.

I like being small and lightweight - small business, small team, small tools. Being small doesn’t necessarily equal small success or impact.

Below was my “Home Studio” back to 2015 (when we lived in a rental 30m2 flat). With just this setup, I launched my first Kickstarter and made $18K in 30 days. And it was pre-sales, the product (Airbnb 1 course) did not even exist yet. That was when Code4Startup got off the ground.


14 months later, we bought a new house (finally we have a place to call “Home”).

While Code4Startup was already a 6-figure business and showing potential growth (it’s OK but not so much), I still preferred being small.

I do most of the work: coding, creating courses, marketing, sales, etc… in our small but lovely “Home Office”.

Here is our Home Office version 2020



There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path

Man, I know 2020 is an unforgettable year in different ways and different meanings.


But when you awaken in the morning, what's the first thought or feeling you awaken to?
Regardless of your current situation, waking up and starting your day feeling grateful, instead of miserable will probably attract and manifest good things into your life.

You do have a choice to decide how you start your day.
Live with an attitude of gratitude.

Be grateful for something in your life.
For me, it’s being able to breathe fresh air and see the sunshine getting through our windows every morning.

It’s knowing that I’m still alive and the people around me are healthy and live in joy.


No matter what my business status looked like, I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed every single bit of every single day over the last 5 years.

Simply because I love what I’ve been doing - making and building meaningful stuff that helps people and hopefully makes a positive impact on their lives.

Inspirational book & movie

Only 2 months left and then we’re done with 2020.

If you kept your job => tweet_2020

If you found a new one => tweet_2020

If you’re still looking for one => tweet_2020

I'd like to share 1 book and 1 movie that would inspire you to go ahead to 2021.

getting real getting real
Getting Real - by Basecamp
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

My Next Projects

I’ve been kind of relaxing and literally work few hours a week for 1.5 years since the last course (“Build a marketplace for freelancers like Fiverr with Rails 6”) was released in April last year.

Sure, 2020 is obviously not a happy year so I’m back now, and let’s rock!

2021 is around the corner and if you’re curious about what I’m going to do next then here they are:

build crowdsourced delivery app

At the end of the day, it’s not about how much I have made. It’s also not about how wealthy I am.

It’s about how much value that my work brings to people and makes an impact on their lives.

It could be in the form of a pain-killer, a vitamin, or even just a fun video that makes them laugh and transfer positive energy.

And for that reason, I just want to say THANK YOU for giving me, just a random guy, a chance to prove my work and making my life meaningful and fulfilling.


I'm sharing everything on my journey

from a solo coder to a $1M entrepreneur.


Leo Trieu, Founder of Code4Startup

Leo is also a Full Stack developer and instructor in Code4Startup who is passionate about EdTech.