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Bootstrapping with a Paycheck: Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 6th 2015

Sramana Mitra: What was the revenue level when you quit your job and went full-time with the business?

Aytekin Tank: It was a little higher than my salary, but it wasn’t too high.

Sramana Mitra: I can’t gauge from that. What are we talking? Are we talking $10,000 a month?

Aytekin Tank: It was less than that.

Sramana Mitra: So somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000 a month is what you were making from the business?

Aytekin Tank: Yes. I don’t think I can give revenue numbers because one, it was so long ago. I might not remember the exact numbers correctly.

Sramana Mitra: That’s okay. Ballpark would be fine. This is a very common question that we get from entrepreneurs. When you are bootstrapping with a paycheck, what is a good point to quit your job and go full-time with your business. Your answer is as good an answer as any – when the revenue from the business exceeds your income. That’s a good point. Now we are in 2005. You’ve quit your job and gone full-time with the business. Are you still based in the US?

Aytekin Tank: Yes, I’m still in the US.

Sramana Mitra: Describe the product that’s bringing in the revenue a bit.

Aytekin Tank: This was the original product. I started while I was in college. Because I was working full-time, I didn’t actually have too much time to create a product. I was working with my customers. Once I worked full-time on my own company, I was actually able to start working on JotForm. When I was working for this media company, we had editors and writers. They always needed forms. They needed forms for questaionnaires, contact forms, and for different purposes. While I was creating tools for the editors and writers, I saw that there was a big need in the market. There were some products.

This is one advice I have for bootstrappers. Even if you see competition in the market, you shouldn’t assume that it’s already full. It’s actually healthy to have competition because it shows that there is demand. If you can imagine yourself building a better product than what’s available out there, you should go for it. You shouldn’t worry about competition. You should just go for it. Sometimes what happens is there are all these products that look the same. Then it looks like every product is similar and they’re not improving much, and they have been like that for years. Someone comes to the market and comes with a better product. That should be you. If you have a different perspective from big companies who have been doing this for many years, then go ahead.

2005 was a pretty good point for me. I was able to build JotForm and people were pretty excited when it came out. You could build your form by dragging and dropping and moving things around. All the other products before JotForm looked similar. Because I came with a fresh perspective, I was able to do a much better product than what was available out there.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping with a Paycheck: Aytekin Tank, CEO of JotForm
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