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Best of Bootstrapping: From a Small Town to $12 Million

Posted on Friday, Nov 22nd 2019

What a wonderful story of an ecommerce company bootstrapping to $12 million from a small town called Horsens in Denmark. All of the 60 employees working under TrendHim CEO Sebastian Petersen work out of Horsens currently.

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?

Sebastian Petersen: I’m from Denmark. I would say I had a pretty ordinary background. Both my parents were working in the public sector. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit together with one of my best buddies growing up. We were always together.

We knew when we were 15 that we wanted to build something on our own. I tried different things when I was young. That’s how I started. I went to a regular high school. I thought I was going to be an engineer. I quickly found out that’s not what I wanted to do.

I ended up doing an e-commerce company. We started out thinking that we were going to deliver bread in the morning. We found out that getting up at four in the morning and delivering morning bread is not our thing. We decided to start an online store instead. We could see that the local jewelry stores got a lot of money from men’s jewelry. That’s how we started. That’s 12 years ago now.

Sramana Mitra: Where were you doing this out of?

Sebastian Petersen: In my own room in my mom’s house is where we started.

Sramana Mitra: What city of Denmark was that?

Sebastian Petersen: Horsens.

Sramana Mitra: It was just you and your friend doing it out of your mom’s house 12 years ago. This was how it started.

Sebastian Petersen: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What specifically were you selling?

Sebastian Petersen: Jewelry for men such as necklaces, cufflinks, and bracelets.

Sramana Mitra: Why did you choose that?

Sebastian Petersen: It was a coincidence to be honest. We just wanted to sell something online. We didn’t care much about what it was. We found the supplier and that’s how we started. We started admiring the fashion industry a bit more. We moved into the fashion industry with the accessories. We still sell jewelry, but it’s not our main thing anymore.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to 12 years ago when you were just starting out. Were you selling this on your own site, or were you selling this on some exchange?

Sebastian Petersen: Only on our own site.

Sramana Mitra: How did people find out about you?

Sebastian Petersen: It was a very different game back then. That was before the first iPhone came out and before Facebook came out. Google was very big back then, so it was just the traditional e-commerce channels back then. We started out becoming good at Google, becoming good at building a customer-friendly website, and getting the logistics set up. It was everything from A to Z.

Sramana Mitra: How did you finance the inventory?

Sebastian Petersen: We started small. We bought three pieces of this and three pieces of that.

Sramana Mitra: You just sold them, made money, and bought some more.

Sebastian Petersen: Yes. We bought two pieces at a time and then sold one. Then we could afford to buy six. Then we sold two. That’s how we grew it. We invested about $5,000 each. That’s how it started. The first three years, we couldn’t afford any salary, so I took a part time job at the post office.

Then we finally got our own apartment. We slept on two mattresses on the floor in the living room. Then we grew out of the apartment into a house. We still slept on the floor in the living room on two mattresses. We just filled the rooms with boxes and packing stations.

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
. Wonderful Bootstrap with a Paycheck Story
. RushOrderTees CEO Bootstraps to $23M
. Bootstrapping with Freemium and Free Trials to $13M
. Bootstrapping, Pivoting, Gaining Liquidity, Scaling to $100M+
. Bootstrapping with Affiliate Marketing
. Bootstrap to Exit, Bootstrap Again, Then Raise VC Money

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