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Forbes Column 08: Bootstrap Yourself

Posted on Friday, Apr 18th 2008

My new Forbes column Bootstrap Yourself highlights Silicon Valley’s hottest new trend, Bootstrapping. 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.

This segment is a part in the series : Forbes Column 08

. Connecting With Your Intimate Bot
. The Gap in Google's Defenses
. A Recession-Proof Corner of the Tech Sector
. eBay's Bounce-Back Opportunity
. How To Dig Out Yahoo's Treasures
. The Microsoft-Yahoo! Battle Plan
. What Microsoft Should Do While Yahoo! Dithers
. The Next VMWare
. The Smartest Unknown Indian Entrepreneur
. The Coming Death of Indian Outsourcing
. India - Cash Rich, Product Poor
. How to Save the World's Back Office
. Latin America's eCommerce Leader
. The Next Indo-China War
. The Real VCs of Silicon Valley
. Fund Envy
. Bootstrap Yourself
. The Coming Convergence
. Lighting The Way In India
. Hydro-Alchemy
. How Amazon Could Change Publishing
. A Technological Fix For Education
. How Technology Can Save Retailers
. Mobile Microfinance
. How To Heat Up Solar
. How Chip Toolmakers Can Survive
. Kill The Business Trip
. Water Firm Enlivens IPO Market
. Web-Savvy Authors Reap Fame, Fortune
. Peeking Inside the iPhone
. Bootstrapping, Montana Style
. Entrepreneurs Flock To Online Travel
. Silicon Lazarus
. Carts Ahead Of Horses
. Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction
. Barack Obama' s Finance Lesson
. Stimulus Package For Entrepreneurs
. Building A Smarter Corporation
. Deconstructing The Cloud
. 'SaaS-ing' Back At The Economy
. Web 3.0
. My Adventure With Amazon
. An S.O.S. To Silicon Valley
. OLPC’s Last Billion
. Capitalism Revisited
. Bargains For Private Equity
. President Obama
. Perilous Protectionism
. Healing Health Care
. Stop The Fear Epidemic
. Obama
. 'Edutainment' Needs Entrepreneurs

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I’m just curious in terms of bootstrapping, does it make sense more for technical people rather than business people. If you need to build a prototype, at least the technical guy can build it at almost no cost. But if a business guys has an idea and wants to build something, it’s kind of hard to get anyone to build something for free.

vanguyafo Friday, April 18, 2008 at 10:50 AM PT

No, you build a team, share the equity ownership, and all team-members work either for free, or you do some sort of “project” based work to make payroll.

Sramana Mitra Friday, April 18, 2008 at 10:53 AM PT

Hi Sramana,

Philippe Kahn, currently founder/CEO of has not taken a dime of VC money and has been greatly successful in IPO/sale of his previous 3 companies (Borland, Starfish, LightSurf). His current startup too is self-funded.

Puneeth Monday, April 21, 2008 at 4:37 AM PT

[…] My very strong recommendation to entrepreneurs is to learn the tricks of bootstrapped entrepreneurship so that they can retain maximum control over their destiny. This recommendation assumes that entrepreneurs would be putting their savings into their ventures. Thus, we need a tax policy that makes it as attractive as possible for entrepreneurs to “invest” in their own ventures, especially at the early stages. [See: “Bootstrap Yourself.”] […]

Where Would The Jobs Come From? - Sramana Mitra on Strategy Wednesday, October 8, 2008 at 9:21 PM PT