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Best of Bootstrapping: TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage

Posted on Friday, Jun 28th 2019

CEO Mitch Russo tells the story of how he built TimeSlips and sold it to Sage. Very entertaining as well as instructive.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Mitch Russo: I was born in New York. I was raised in a small community called Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. It was there that we basically started a rock band. Using the idea of how to build an entertainment platform as a rock band in high school, I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and I learned a lot about what it takes to make money and how to promote and share content.

I later used all of those skills to start a software company in 1985 with a partner. We grew that from a $5,000 investment to over $10 million in revenue and 100 employees. We sold the company to Sage PLC in the UK.

Sramana Mitra: I’m interested in how you did that. Let’s go through that entrepreneur journey. How did you go from doing a rock band to a software company?

Mitch Russo: It’s a fun story. After the rock band, I grew up and became an adult. I realized that I probably wasn’t going to be a Rock and Roll star. That was a deep disappointment to me. At that point, I started to go to work for different companies. I learned how to do things like selling. Selling was a very important skill that I needed to learn. I ended up selling semiconductors in the semiconductors industry.

I had to go to school to learn how to sell. I went to Dale Carnegie’s Sales Training Institute. There I learned the entire process of selling. I became, in a very short period of time, the top sales person in our entire industry. At the age of 25, I started generating between $30,000 and $35,000 in commission checks after going 14 months without even a single commission check. I intuitively understood that it would take a long investment in this process of getting my chips into the hands of the people who could design them into large volume projects.

The money was rolling in at that point. I was going after more customers and having a lot of success. Then suddenly, the semiconductor industry took a severe downturn. One day, I found out that our shipment to a large manufacturer was declined at the shipping dock. I got a call from the factory to go over there and find out what’s going on. It turned out that their sales had slowed down so much to the point where they no longer needed our parts. This started to happen to company after company over the course of a very short period of time – less than 60 days.

I asked one of the veterans in this industry, “Can you give me an idea of what’s going on?” He said that this is a typical semiconductor downturn and that it will only last four or five years. I said, “I’m out of here.” I had a good amount of cash and had a lot of ambition. I decided that I wanted to start my own company, but I didn’t know what kind of company to start.

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 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
. From a Small Town to $12 Million
. Bootstrapping to Y Combinator and $10 Million Series A
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace to Over $10 Million
. Freightwise Bootstraps to $33 Million
. Bootstraps First to $5M ARR, Raises $10M Later
. Bootstraps in Europe, Raises Money and Goes Global in the US
. English Major Bootstraps a Tech Company
. Bootstraps with a Paycheck to $15M from Tennessee
. Queue-It Bootstraps from Denmark to the US
. Bootstrapping A Virtual Company To $25M
. ActiveCampaign CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $40M
. Alteryx Bootstrapped with Services to a Public Unicorn
. Inspyrus Bootstraps Using Services to an Awesome Business Model
. CEO Bootstraps Using Services to Millions from Russia
. Wiredrive CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $10M
. Scaling to Over $10M by Bootstrapping Using Services
. Bootstraps Using Services from Poland to a US SaaS Company
. ButcherBox CEO Bootstraps a Perishable Meat Business to Significant Scale
. Waveform CEO Bootstraps to $8M
. Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship from Estonia
. From Laid-off Engineer to Successful Startup CEO
. Imagine Easy Solutions CEO Bootstraps to Exit
. BannerBuzz CEO Bootstraps to $35M
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Wisconsin
. Best Tactic for B2B Startups
. Bootstrapping by Piggybacking from Romania
. Bootstrap First, Then Scale with VC Funds
. Bootstrap to +$10M First, Raise Money Later
. Madwire CEO Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later to $120M
. Bootstrap Using Services First, Raise Money Later

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