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Best of Bootstrapping: Can You Bootstrap a Virtual Company to Over $5 Million?

Posted on Friday, Nov 1st 2019

Renaissance Periodization CEO Nick Shaw has done just that. He has built a very interesting e-learning company and addressed scalability with nifty strategic choices. Read on, you’ll learn a lot.

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?

Nick Shaw: I was born and raised in the state of Michigan. I grew up with the goal of wanting to go to the University of Michigan. It’s a top-level school. I was lucky enough to be accepted there. I started in the Sports Management program. I originally wanted to be an athletic director.

During my sophomore year in college, I met Dr. Mike Israetel who founded Renaissance Periodization (RP) with me. We met in the student gym at Michigan, which is ironic and funny now because we run a fitness company. He convinced me to get started in competitive lifting. Coming from an athletic and sports background, that was right up my alley. He convinced me to do a competition together. This was way back in 2007 or so.

Doing that got everything started. I pivoted from the sports management track. I still graduated from Michigan in Sports Management. It was that wake up call that the health and fitness field is where I wanted to be. That’s what I’m really passionate about. I ended up graduating in 2009 from University of Michigan and moved to New York City to be a personal trainer.

My buddy Mike had just finished his Master’s degree. He was a couple of years ahead of me in school. He finished his Master’s degree from Appalachian State and was living in New York as well. He was the one who convinced me to go out to New York. I had never been there before. I just showed up, interviewed, and got the job. I moved out there after school ended. We worked as personal trainers for about a year. He left to go get his Ph.D. at East Tennessee State. I stayed in New York and kept training people. I was training people one-on-one and he was training people online. He was in school and he couldn’t really keep up with the client load. We were constantly going back and forth.

Eventually we said, “Let’s just team up and start a little company and start doing this more and more online.” This was the first lightbulb in my head that went off. I was a personal trainer only doing one-on-one stuff. I had to travel all over Manhattan. I was pretty quick to realize that it wasn’t a super good use of my time training people one-on-one. It’s hard to scale. If you want to make any type of good revenue income, you have to bust your butt 24/7.

This is when I thought, “Maybe I can start doing a bit more online.” In one hour, if you’re working with clients online, maybe you can help five clients. There was this light bulb that went off, “That’s a lot more scalable. I need to probably start going more online and doing less in person.” That was the shift that I had. It took me from doing a lot of in-person training to about 50/50. Then as the online part kept growing, that percentage started to shift until it was 75/25 and then I was doing 95% online. This was 2014 or so. RP was officially started in the fall of 2012. We are a little over six years now.

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
. From a Small Town to $12 Million
. Bootstrapping to Y Combinator and $10 Million Series A
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace to Over $10 Million

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