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100 Percent Bootstrapped 10 Million Dollar E-Commerce Company: WaterFilters.Net CEO Jamin Arvig (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Dec 30th 2010

Jamin Arvig is a serial entrepreneur who is a founder of WaterFilters.Net. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering as well as a law degree. After practicing patent law for a period, he decided to maintain a focus on business which led to increased effort being place on WaterFilters.Net, a business he started in 2002 while still in school.

Sramana: Jamin, let’s go back to the beginning of your story. Where did you grow up?

Jamin Arvig: I grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, which is just west of the Twin Cities. I went to the University of Minnesota for an electrical engineering degree, and then I went to William Mitchell for my law degree.

I have an embarrassing entrepreneurial history beginning when I was just a few years old with neighbors. I would sell them different things, including rulers. The desire to grow something and build a business has always been a part of me. In middle school and high school, I had a lawn service business which I eventually called Mr. Grass. I eventually sold that business when I was in college. I had several employees and built a good business.

I had some interest in real estate, so I used some of my savings to fund some real estate ventures. I did some rental properties that catered to the student population near the University of Minnesota. I also did a development out on a lake. I was a Realtor and have some history in commercial real estate.

From my schooling, I worked some in patent law. That was a very good experience also, and the law degree was a very good foundation and I am glad I did it. During my time at law school and during my time working in a patent law firm, I realized that I am a businessperson. I am an entrepreneur, and I love to build and create the business and organization. It made sense for me to step beyond my educational background in business.

I started WaterFilters.Net in 2002 while I was still in college.

Sramana: How did you come up with the idea for WaterFilters.Net? Nothing in the background you described prepared me to hear that you started WaterFilters.Net.

Jamin Arvig: I was an engineer, and my wife had a technical background as well. We were both familiar with programming and understood some of what was going on with the dot-com rise and fall. We knew enough to realize it was an incredible opportunity that most generations do not get to participate in. That opportunity would allow us to build a business quickly based on a global audience reached via the Internet. We did not need a lot of capital to start the business.

We decided that the place to start would be with a very small-scale e-commerce business. We had a background in water technology to some extent. My wife had grown up working in a Culligan dealership, and I had learned enough to know that the water industry was a growing phenomenon.

This segment is part 1 in the series : 100 Percent Bootstrapped 10 Million Dollar E-Commerce Company: WaterFilters.Net CEO Jamin Arvig
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I met Jamin while munching blue crab at the 2009 Inc. 500|5000 conference in DC. He's a really down to earth guy – thanks for sharing your success.

Dan Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 11:07 AM PT