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Best of Bootstrapping: How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+

Posted on Friday, Jun 14th 2019

Mack has built a successful business optimized for autonomy and profitability. Excellent navigation!

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your journey. Tell us where you’re from. Where did you grow up? Where were you born and raised?

Mack Sundaram: I was born in South India in a village near Chennai. I spent some time of my childhood in Chennai and Pondicherry. I later went to school in New Delhi. Since then, I moved over to the United States where I had an opportunity to pursue a doctoral degree in Economics. That’s where the transition happened.

We’re a middle class family from India. There was a lot of support and pressure for doing well in education. I appreciate my parents for doing that, but there was always the push to find something that you really like to do. I still remember my parents telling me many times as a child that I’ve got to find something.

If you’re a painter, you’ve got to be the best painter on earth. You’ve got to push yourself that way. That was the environment that I grew up in. I carried that with me throughout my life. It wasn’t easy to find the right thing that you’re good at. Fortunately, I did discover it, which is being an entrepreneur.

Sramana Mitra: You said you were pursuing an Economics Ph.D.?

Mack Sundaram: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Where was that?

Mack Sundaram: At Purdue University.

Sramana Mitra: Did you finish the Ph.D.?

Mack Sundaram: No. I was highly motivated to learn about Development Economics. I was a big fan of Amartya Sen who is a Harvard economist and Nobel Prize winner. I wanted to pursue along that line and do research in Development Economics. I had my own theories of how poor countries can ameliorate themselves. I wanted to pursue that.

Unfortunately, I found that I wasn’t the right fit for that environment in Purdue because they were not focused on Development Economics that much. They were focused on Macroeconomics. It was a different fit. But I got the chance to pursue my passion somewhere.

After I finished my Master’s, I had the chance to work at a startup as one of the early founders. I started doing that right about the time when I was finishing the program. That was an incredible opportunity because it was a very futuristic startup. It brought all my learnings together. As I told you, my dream was to be good at something that I really like. Somehow I really liked Economics. I got into Economics only because I wanted to understand people well. I like the social and psychological aspects of life, if you will.

This startup was started by my professor at Purdue. He was working for the US Marine Corps and the US Army. They were looking for us to build an artificial intelligence system that would create synthetic economics. You’d create different economic scenarios by programming them – economy in recession, good economy, poor economy.

The problem that they were trying to solve was, if we had different economic scenarios, what kinds of people should we recruit so that in 10 years’ time when we have battles, we will have a competitive advantage. It’s a pretty incredible problem to solve. We did a fair amount of work on that for about two years and built a system they really liked. My time was spent going back and forth between Indiana and Virginia. The Marine Corps was there. The US Army was also there.

We had to talk with them a lot about our wanting to model this thing and then build artificial intelligence into it so the system can learn by itself and produce battle combat results that will be meaningful. Now we’re in 2019. We’re talking 22 years ago. At that time, people hardly knew about the term artificial intelligence. Now, everybody is talking about it.

Our conversation continues here.

This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping


. Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Why is Bootstrapping Important?
. How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently?
. Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings
. Excess is NOT Required for Success
. Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later
. Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies
. The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping
. Bootstrapping to Unicorns
. Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million
. Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue
. Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million
. Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy
. How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million
. Bootstrapping with a Paycheck
. How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan
. Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses
. How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million
. Bootstrapping with Services
. How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million
. How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana
. How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million
. Death by Overfunding
. How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+
. How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck
. TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage
. The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance
. BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering
. Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania
. Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million
. SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida
. Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Ownership Matters
. Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado
. Power2Motivate CEO Bootstraps to $80M from Canada
. Financial DNA CEO Bootstraps to $10M+ from Australia
. Big Barker CEO Bootstraps a Niche E-commerce Brand
. PrecisionLender CEO Bootstraps to Over $10M from North Carolina
. Master Bootstrappers with Over $1B in Exits
. Ultra Mobile Founder Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Bootstrapping a Two-Sided Marketplace to $10M
. Can You Bootstrap a Virtual Company to Over $5 Million?
. Capital Efficient Entrepreneurs Turn $1M into $80M
. Discussing the Journey Through Failure to Success

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