Bootstrap Yourself!

My new Forbes column Bootstrap Yourself highlights Silicon Valley’s hottest new trend, Bootstrapping. Indian entrepreneurs, you need to embrace this trend, given that the early stage venture capital industry doesn’t quite have its act together yet.
Great bootstrapping case studies I have covered are Sridhar Vembu, Frank Levinson and Jerry Rawls, Cree Lawson, and Beatrice Tarka. Sridhar, Frank and Jerry did it almost without any outside money, while Cree and Beatrice have done it with very small rounds of Angel funding. Aspiring entrepreneurs, you have much to learn from them.

Also note, in Frank and Jerry’s case, they used services to bootstrap, while Sridhar used a lower profile, but successful product which became a cashcow.

20 Responses to “Bootstrap Yourself!”

  1. Girish says:

    BootStrapping is as old as business itself, Its just that the new economy coined a word for it. If you look at any proprietary organization it was definitely bootstrapped, even way back in 18th century. And as for entrepreneurs in India the situation is no different from that in the US. As somebody pointed out, Paul Graham’s articles hold good everywhere.

    BTW I am a resident Indian who has a bootstrapped a tech startup, and I’ve worked for enough years around the world, I barely notice a difference in building a startup. VC funding is meant for a purpose and bootstrapping should not be confused with it.

  2. Old Hand says:

    I also beg to differ that VC funded companies are somehow “better” than bootstrapped ones because VCs invest in ideas that can become “large” and get companies running “fast”.

    This is quite misleading and is spread mostly by VCs so its also self-serving.

    1. Even VCs agree that 9 out 10 investments do not scale up. They only make big money from the 1 that becomes big.

    2. Often the one that becomes big is more a result of the power of innovation than the capital as such. Example: Google. If Google had raised even 1/20th of what it raised, it would have still become equally great soon enough. The power of the idea.

    3. There are many VC funded companies who did not scale up even 20% per year in revenues post say 4 yrs of VC funding. Example, mobile VAS companies in India and hundreds of dot coms in the 99-00 period.

  3. Old Hand says:

    Sramana, Thanks for posting your take and examples of bootstrappers. However I am appalled that you are claiming to have found a new trend!! Bootstrapping is as old as capitalism itself. If you leave aside “Red Herring” and pick up “Inc” magazine, you’ll see plenty of bootstrappers since ages. Prof. Bhide of Columbia has done comparative research of such bootstrapping entrepreneurs and VC funded entrepreneurs.

    Considering the distractions most VCs create for their portfolio companies and the rights they want, boostrapping is welcome.

    In India often there’s little appetite from even well to do entrepreneurs to self fund their companies. People often want to raise even modest amounts not from self or family but from angels.

  4. Bipin says:


    Now when you are talking about your 3 jobs, how many of these full length articles do you write yourself? And how many are outsourced to “cheap” writers in India? Any stats?

  5. Vijay,

    I just gave some pointers here, and did not even intend to write a full-fledged article. I am already doing 3 full-time jobs: consulting, my blog, and the Forbes column. I just don’t have the time to write another guest column set. However, I have a huge commitment towards sharing whatever little I have learned with entrepreneurs all over the world, and especially the Indian entrepreneurs, which is why I try to keep a finger on the VentureWoods community. Please understand, that I will NOT be writing long articles on VentureWoods. But, I will continue to give you pointers, in case that stirs your imaginations, and helps you in learning a few tricks of this game.

    Sorry about being annoyed earlier.


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