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Best of Bootstrapping: Bootstrapping Using Services from Wisconsin

Posted on Friday, May 22nd 2020

SignalWire CEO Anthony Minessale is building a very interesting programmable communication platform company that has its roots in Wisconsin.

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?

Anthony Minessale: I’m from the Midwest. I live in Wisconsin where I’ve lived all my life. I have been involved in computers since high school. After high school, I became interested in how the internet works. At that time, the internet was starting to take off. I started to teach myself programming.

I spent many years studying and trying to offer things like tech support. Sometime around late 90s, I started working with an ISP that was providing web hosting. It was a new idea of trying to consolidate web hosting into a more affordable price. I started this affordable $20 a month plan to host a website during the dot-com boom. We all know how that ended.

Throughout that period, I worked a lot on trying to figure out how to make the new invention of the web browser interesting.

Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?

Anthony Minessale: This was late 90s. 

Sramana Mitra: The dotcom boom is happening in Silicon Valley at this point. What form did all this take? How did you navigate beyond 1999?

Anthony Minessale: Towards the end of the decade, the company I was at decided to sell. There was a company that was going around collecting web hosting companies at the worst time possible.

At that time, we put the web hosting stuff on hold a few years before the bubble hit and started focusing on tech support. This was the pioneering time of remote call centers and using the internet to provide outsourced technical support in a call center type of product. We decided to try our hand at that and also got into web hosting.

During that time, I was trying to figure out how to leverage our experience in tech support for web hosting and bring it to all companies and make it into a product. Back then, there were very few options to be successful with anything other than an on-premise solution.

We wanted to be able to help people remotely connect or enable call centers to have internet-based software so people could see what’s happening in their regular web browser.

One of the things we really wanted to accomplish was allowing the agents that we employed to work on behalf of our customers. They would learn the materials and different metadata to tell them which third-party customers they’re calling. Doing all that required some finesse with telephony.

One of our bigger call center areas was in the Philippines. We had to get an international internet connection. Back then, it was pretty expensive. We were trying to decide what other things we could do. There wasn’t any product we could leverage so we started looking around in the open source community.

One of the first things they found was a software that runs in Linux and turns a computer into a small PBX system. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but it was a software that could be manipulated. It was open source.

We started to prototype some stuff where you could basically go on to your web browser and see the call queue in real-time. Then we run the queue software in the platform and could tell what someone is after and how long they’ve been on hold for. These are all things that you probably have a hundred choices for. 

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+

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