A lesson in bootstrapping - Format.com

Hello fellow bootstrappers,

I just wanted to make a quick post about our company’s relaunch today as I think some of you might find it a valuable lesson in bootstrapping.

For the last 5 years we’ve been 4ormat.com. We had always wanted to acquire format.com and even reached out to the original owners before we even launched. As you can imagine, the owners weren’t interested in selling nor did we have the money to buy a six-letter dictionary-word dot-com domain.

We kept growing the company and kept reaching out to the owners of format.com. Luckily, when they decided to sell, we were actually big enough to afford the sticker price. In hindsight, we were actually quite lucky that they decided to wait so long to sell the domain and that we focused on just growing a profitable business.

It only took 1677 days, but 4ormat is now Format and we’re live at format.com



Still… what is that about? I went to the home page and seen this:

All the features you need to create and manage your online portfolio.

Huh? What features exactly? Who is that “you”? … Well, “portfolio” kind of explains that it is for artists… still this is one of the vaguest titles I’ve seen.

Congrats on making things work first. Domains can be like a siren song, luring you away from actual work and wasting time and money.

I do have one note of constructive criticism. I think your promotional site could be much simpler and focus more directly on the themes. The parallax and scroll-jacking makes the user think about your site’s interface & design, when they should be thinking about your product’s interface & design.

My suggestion would be to create a goal of getting users to preview a theme, and then optimize that funnel until it’s smooth like butter :wink:

Thanks for the feedback guys. As you can imagine, we have a lot of funnel and copy AB tests we’re looking to run over the coming months. I’ll try and post any of the interesting lessons we learn.