That's pretty much me. I spent 2021 learning fullstack web dev and I'm spending 2022 bootstrapping a vertical SAAS. I'm doing this on the side while I work as a dev for not for profits (civic tech).
The long-term goal is to keep building those niche SAAS products and open source all the code while donating a yet undecided % of profits to effective charities.
I'm also learning how to write well with the goal of sharing whatever knowledge I acquire along the way through my blog.
I am also working on a moonshot solo research project in the field of complexity science. This will likely take years (decades?) and has a close to zero chance of success but if it works out it'll be a pretty decent contribution to the field.
The general principles I'm following are:
- Work on tech products as they're highly scalable and the market will ensure you're solving real problems
- Maximise positive externalities (donate % profits, open source, share learnings)
- Do science on the side on something that interests you and which won't be a waste if it works out
Getting a PhD isn't likely to pass the opportunity cost test for impact unless you're a genius.
What I'm doing is really low risk, I'm not taking venture capital and I'm still working at my job but that's obviously limiting. If you really want to have a huge impact and don't mind huge risk you could try a startup that solves a huge problem you really care about having solved.