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How did you fund your bootstrapped startup?

#1

Did you rely on credit card debt? Savings? A supportive working spouse?

When I started my company in 2008, I was still working full-time as a consultant. That gave me the funds I needed to pay the rent while getting started.

It wasn’t much fun trying to run a product nights and weekend while also working full-time. So after about six months when my first product was generating some cash every month I reduced my consulting work to 3 days a week. Eight months later I stopped the consulting work for good - with great relief.

What about you? How did you get through those first months?

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#2

That’s more or less how I started Sifter in 2008, but it was much more intermittent. I paid everything off and drastically reduced my bills to the bare necessities. I had a few months of consulting work lined up when I quit my job, but I had a much more challenging time juggling switching frequently between consulting and working on Sifter. So I tried to design a cadence that required less switching.

My approach ended up being more like 3 months of consulting, 3 months of Sifter. When I started to run out of money, I’d do more consulting. It wasn’t as nice and tidy as it sounds, but it let me focus on one project at a time.

I should add that in total, we started with about $10,000 in cash for business expenses, but none of that was salary related. It went to incorporation, privacy/terms, hosting, and various other one-time startup expenses.

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#3

I worked as a freelance contractor during the first year and then I was hired as a full time developer. I worked for that company for 2 years until I was able to go full-time on DNSimple.

For starting capital, I set up a business checking account and deposited a small amount of money in there for the basics when I first started, but DNSimple had revenue pretty quickly (4 months after I started working on it).

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#4

This is how I do bootstrap it, not how I did.

In past, I wasn’t able to do any work on the side during the contracting downtime. My thinking during the downtime periods was only about finding the next contract, couldn’t focus on the side projects.

I tried to subcontract the coding, and it kinda worked. The code was delivered. But there is so much to bootstrapping than just building code, and I just couldn’t have enough time and focus. All side projects started at that time were abandoned for lack of attention.

So the regular side work started about 2-3 years ago, when my rate grown high, and downtime has all but disappear. I do 3-4 hours of work a day, usually 9pm to 1am. Not weekends - 2 kids to take care for, and quite often long deployments at the client’s site.

Realistically, I expect to work in this mode for another 3-5 years before I make enough or be brave enough to go full time.

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#5

For the first few months I was working for my old company part-time, as a contractor. Then I went full time on PerfectTablePlan, living off savings and my wife’s income.

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#6

I had some savings and then I left my job (redundancy, so got some more money), and had my first child in the same month. Started bootstrapping the month after with no plan of what I was going to build. Possibly that was towards the riskier end of the spectrum for what people would recommend :slight_smile:

I had tried working on things evenings and weekends and with the kids coming along I didn’t want to do that anymore. I had struggled to keep pace with the amount of work required when doing it evenings and weekends so was looking forward to having it as a full time job. The way I saw it, this was a last proper shot at building a business I could live off. Quite stressful, but great to be able to fully apply yourself to something. I had previously advised people not to do it this way, but it worked great for me to be able to have all the time and focus.

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