Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Jodie Fox: We went live in October 2009. The idea started to come together at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.
Sramana Mitra: How did you get it off the ground? Did you self-finance it? How did it all come together?
Jodie Fox: We bootstrapped for the first two and a half years and we put our own money over a period of a year. Each left their full-time jobs to work on the business.
Sramana Mitra: All of you quit your jobs to go full-time with the business?
Jodie Fox: Yes, we did, but at different times over the period of a year.
Sramana Mitra: We have this one strategy that we see a lot of entrepreneurs following, which we have given a name. We call it Bootstrapping Using a Paycheck. Is that what you guys were doing to get this to a stage where you were all ready to quit?
Jodie Fox: Yes. It’s really interesting. We have savings that we had invested into the business. It was a very interesting journey because it’s full of mental challenges of how you get enough downtime and how you switch your mind over from what you’ve been concentrating during the day. It was a very challenging year. I was also looking for the right time to resign as well. In my experience, your startup will never grow as fast as you hope it will because you’re not putting in the time and energy.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get the specifics. The end of 2008 was when you came up with the idea. At what point, between the end of 2008 and October 2009 when you launched the site, did you quit? What were the milestones against which you were making those decisions to quit?
Jodie Fox: Mike was the first to quit. He was our CTO. He’s our Co-CEO now. It made sense for him to be the first to quit because we needed to be able to show people an example of what it was that we were trying to create. We learned that very quickly, because one of the first things that we did was we went to meet the clients bearing in mind that not one of the three of us knew anything about how to make a shoe. It became obvious very quickly that we needed to explain ourselves further and show how this could work because the idea was just outlandish.
The next thing that happened was we needed to get our operations in place. This meant understanding not just how the technology works but exactly how the shoe gets produced and how to work with suppliers so that we can have longevity in this business. Michael had a lot of experience in that area in his previous role. He resigned in August. I resigned the following February. My focus was around marketing and communications. That was the final piece of the puzzle that we needed place to have the business operational.