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Best of Bootstrapping: ButcherBox CEO Bootstraps a Perishable Meat Business to Significant Scale

Posted on Friday, Apr 3rd 2020

ButcherBox CEO Mike Salguero shares a fascinating story of a subscription service for high-quality meat being delivered to consumer homes.

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

Mike Salguero: I was born in Paraguay. I’m the youngest of four kids. My parents divorced when I was six months old, and my mom moved up to western Massachusetts with her four children.

Sramana Mitra: I went to Smith College, so I lived in Northampton.

Mike Salguero: I actually grew up in Williamsburg.

Sramana Mitra: Why did she move there?

Mike Salguero: My mother’s father was Colombian. Her mother was from western Massachusetts. When she got divorced, the only place where she had any sort of family was with her mother’s parents.

Sramana Mitra: Then what happened? How was your upbringing? What kind of things did you do that leads up to this story?

Mike Salguero: I always had hard work instilled in me. I didn’t really have an allowance. I had a paper route when I was 10 years old. I was always taught the value of working hard and thinking creatively.

I went to boarding school for high school. Then I came to Boston for school and have never left. In college, I studied in Mongolia. It was my first foray into people who pasture-raise animals.

From there, I got into some entrepreneurial stuff right away. I started selling these anti-George Bush t-shirts in 2004. We sold 17,000 T-shirts in four months. I just had this amazing experience of creating this idea from scratch and breathing life into the brand and growing it.

That one experience just completely changed my goals and what I wanted to accomplish in my life. I always assumed that the entrepreneurial path would be the way to go. The experience of watching people consume what I created was so cool. I focused on being an entrepreneur.

I did take a short detour. I spent three years working for the man in a real estate company. I was getting my MBA at night. I was just waiting and preparing for the moment when I could go out on my own.

I left the real estate gig in 2008 and started my first company, which was called Custommade.com. It was a marketplace that connected crafts people, mostly jewelers and furniture makers, to consumers. People would go on and say, “I’m looking for a custom engagement ring.” They would get bids from various makers and craftspeople. Then they would hire through the platform.

Sramana Mitra: How did you get that started? Was that bootstrapped?

Mike Salguero: My co-founder and I bought the website off of the owner for $140,000. At that time, we fronted $5,000 as a deposit to go into due diligence. Then we ran around town with a logo and cellphone and raised money to be able to purchase the website. Right away, we were non-bootstrapped.

Sramana Mitra: How much did you raise?

Mike Salguero: In that round, we raised $500,000. A year later, we raised $1.2 million. Another year later, we raised $1.9 million.

Sramana Mitra: Who were these people who gave you $500,000 to buy this website? Why did they give that money to you?

Mike Salguero: The initial group was mostly clients of my co-founder. They were wealthy real estate people.

Sramana Mitra: These were people who knew you.

Mike Salguero: Yes, this was right around the time when the economy was collapsing and Bernie Madoff had just run off with a bunch of people’s money. Our pitch was something like, “You can either leave your money in the stock market and lose 40%, or you can give it to us.” A year later, we raised some more. After we had done two rounds, then we had the real venture round.

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
. 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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