Posted on Friday, Jul 26th 2019
Jim has bootstrapped a $10M company by
providing a software solution to the charity auction management problem.
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? Jim Alvarez: I was born and raised in the south side
of Chicago. I went to college at the Indiana University. Sramana Mitra: What did you study? Jim Alvarez: I was a marketing major. Sramana Mitra: When did you graduate college? Jim Alvarez: I graduated in 1998. Sramana Mitra: What happened after that? Jim Alvarez: My dad is an attorney. My whole life, I
wanted to be an attorney and work with my dad. He has a small firm in Indiana.
That was my career path. In my junior year at Indiana, I wanted to learn about
the stock market and understand how it works. I had the opportunity to be a
clerk for a trader down at the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. I agreed to work
for free during my junior year.
While I was
there, I met a gentleman by the name of Brian Novack. As I was filling out my
housing applications for law school, Brian called me up and said, “How about I
give you a million dollars to trade? Whatever you make, you get to keep half.
If you lose it all, you lose it all.” I knew that was probably the right thing
to do. It was a pretty amazing opportunity.
Mitra: Why were you getting this opportunity? What was it about you that got
people betting? Jim Alvarez: I was just a junior in college so I didn’t really know what they saw in me, but they saw something. I don’t know. I have a lot of drive. Instead of going to law school, I ended up trading. I did that for five years. I was a partner with Brian for most of that time. I was fortunate, I made quite a bit of money.
In 2003, right when computers were starting to come out, I had a choice of being a trader from a computer screen. The technology was starting to get stronger in that time frame. I could see the writing on the wall. I was either going to be a screen trader or something else. In 2003, I decided to do something else. That’s when I started my second company. My first company was a golf club company.
Mitra: As in you were an e-commerce site selling golf clubs? Jim Alvarez: Yes, I invented a putter called Hammy. I put most of the money I made trading into this company and I had it manufactured in China. It was sold in all the major retailers.
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 More »» . 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 . 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 . 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Bay Dynamics Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services . Building an AI Software Company from Dallas . RJMetrics Co-founders Bootstrapped First, Raised $22M Later . Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Business BuyAutoParts to Exit . TemplateMonster was Bootstrapped to $15 Million . Bootstrapping Edge Hosting to $18 Million . Bootstrapping, Fund Raising and Exiting with Sefaira . Bootstrapping IdeaScale to $5M from Scratch . Bootstrapping to $10M from Finland . Happy Grasshopper CEO Dan Stewart Bootstrapped to Inflection . Bootstrapping Gravity Pro Using Services . Founder Builds Multiple Bootstrapped Education Software Companies . Bootstrapping to $10M from Australia, Raising $25M from the US . Bootstrapped Y Soft to $30M from the Czech Republic . Bootstrapped from Belarus, Raised Money from Silicon Valley . Bootstrapped SproutLoud to $30M from Florida . Bootstrapped 2600Hz Using Services . A Serial Bootstrapping Entrepreneur’s Journey . 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Master Bootstrappers with $1+ Billion in Exits . Bootstrapped Ultra Mobile to Over $100 Million . Bootstrapping a 2-Sided Marketplace to $10M