I love the idea of a Bootstrapper’s hang out though I think a lot of people in the business have struggled to find a universally acceptable moniker for what we are.
I am very interested in how ‘bootstrappers’ define themselves and the limits of what ‘bootstrapping’ is.
Can bootstrappers talk about raising angel funds or venture capital? Can a bootstrapped business operate across multiple offices and continents? When do you stop being bootstrapped and start being just another business that happened to be built in a particular way?
One way that I think bootstrappers and larger organisations actually differentiate themselves over what Paul Graham would call ‘Startups’ (wrongly in my opinion but who cares), is that the people behind bootstrapped businesses, micros-ISVs, ISVs, whatever, seem to have an obsession with VALUES, and not VALUATIONS.
Bootstrappers often give a lot of thought to what they want their life to be like, how they want their customers and employees to view them. It is their VALUES that are evident to people, not the VALUATION of the business.
I think this is one of the things that sets ‘bootstrappers’ apart and is certainly something we think very hard about at Business of Software Conference when we put our programme together. We want to work with the overwhelming majority of software entrepreneurs who want to build great products that solve problems, build great companies and ecosystems that help people to do useful things. We are not really interested in the people who measure their lives in terms of the latest round of funding they have raised for their company and what it means for their own personal net worth. Too often, those people give up, go off or are just done over by their investors. It is in the interests of every investor in the world for people to think that raising money is the be all and end all. I want to work with the people that have seen through the BS and just want to do great stuff.