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Best of Bootstrapping: Imagine Easy Solutions CEO Bootstraps to Exit

Posted on Friday, May 1st 2020

We’re big fans of bootstrapping to exit case studies. Imagine Easy Solutions CEO Neal Taparia’s journey is a wonderful one.

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?

Neal Taparia: I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. My parents were immigrants from India. I’m first-generation in the United States. I did my undergraduate education in Chicago. After that, I settled down in New York where I’ve been ever since. 

Sramana Mitra: What led you to the entrepreneurial journey story?

Neal Taparia: My entrepreneurial roots took place in Chicago in my high school junior year. This was 2000. In fact, it was the early days of the internet. I would go online through America Online and talk to my friends that way. It was a totally different type of internet.

I was lucky that my high school offered this course on introduction to computer science. My dad nudged me to take the class because he saw me tinkering around. It was a pretty eye-opening class for me because I learned how to build basic websites and some basic programming.

Later that year, I was in English class. When you write a paper, you’re required to cite and reference all that information. I don’t know if you remember doing that back in the day, but it has all these tedious rules that you have to follow.

Having learned about computer science and a good friend of mine who’s also good with computers, we realized there was a much better way to go about these bibliographies and reference management.

Over the course of two months, we ended up putting together a product called EasyBib where you can enter in a website or a book. We were able to build crawlers and algorithms where we would extrapolate information, structure it together, and quickly create your citation.

We dramatically changed the process of citing information. It made it a lot easier and shorter. It turned out to be very popular. That was the launch point of my entrepreneurial career. It started when I was 16 years old.

From that point onward, we incorporated a company called Imagine Easy Solutions. Given that early success, we thought that we can build imaginative and easy-to-use solutions in education.

Sramana Mitra: What year was this?

Neal Taparia: This was 2001 when we first started the site. That was my junior year in high school. We ended up building that business. Later on, we started working on it full time after college and after a year or two of working in the corporate world. 

Sramana Mitra: You kept this going as a side thing during your high school, college, and a couple of years of working at a corporate job.

Neal Taparia: That’s correct. In high school, we did everything we could to promote the site. Back then, it meant putting flyers all around my high school. I would even flyer the bathrooms of my high school because I didn’t know any better. My logic was people would read flyers in the bathroom. Lo and behold, people did.

We started getting users. As a high school student, I emailed the Chicago Tribune saying, “We’re students helping students.” Within a few days, we got a callback from a reporter. They came to my house and took pictures of me and my buddy. They displayed EasyBib on the frontpage. It was surreal. 

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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