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Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later to $120M from Colorado: Madwire CEO JB Kellogg (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Jun 19th 2020

If you haven’t already, please study our Bootstrapping Course and Investor Introductions page. 

This story discusses all sorts of interesting nuances, including DIFM vs. DIY. Read on.

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?

JB Kellogg: I’m from Colorado. I was born and raised there. We moved around, but most of my childhood was in Colorado. I was very into sports as a kid. I grew up with that as my primary focus, which catapulted me into college on scholarship for football.

I played football, which is like a full-time job at the college level. On finishing college, I wanted to pursue a career in marketing and design. I ended up finishing football in my senior season and I had another semester left. I had a lot of time on my hands at that point since I was done with athletics.

I walked into a magazine company which was near our college. I just asked them if they had an internship. I had a pretty good skill set in design. Unfortunately, they didn’t. They did have a need for a website. They asked me if I knew how. I said no, but if they gave me a desk and a couple of months, I’d figure it out. They did.

Sramana Mitra: What year was this?

JB Kellogg: This is 2004. I figured out how to build a website.

Sramana Mitra: This is still happening in Colorado?

JB Kellogg: I was in college. I went to school at different places, but at this point, I was in New Mexico. I finished college at Western New Mexico University. 

Sramana Mitra: What happens next?

JB Kellogg: I realized that not a lot of people knew how to do that at that time. Not a lot of businesses were online yet. They were still operating in a traditional capacity. I came back to Colorado and started working with my dad who owned a futures and commodities brokerage firm. I worked there.

While working there, I learned a lot about sales. I also continued to pursue my knowledge with regards to digital marketing. We rebuilt our brokerage website many times. We started building software and analysis programs as well and also started testing digital marketing.

This is between 2004 and 2009 where this is happening. Everybody was starting to shift from traditional marketing to digital marketing. Thankfully in the brokerage industry, it’s very competitive, so it’s a bit ahead of the curve. We were doing a lot of the things at that time that small businesses weren’t quite doing yet.

I just kept talking to my dad about the opportunity in the small business digital marketing space. We got excited about it. One day when we were working out, we came up with the whole business plan. Over the weekend, we spent time researching.

On Monday, we gave away all our brokerage accounts and just went in and founded Madwire, which was a digital marketing company for small businesses. 

This segment is part 1 in the series : Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later to $120M from Colorado: Madwire CEO JB Kellogg
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Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later to $120M from Colorado: Madwire CEO JB Kellogg (Part 1) - Sunday, July 5, 2020 at 10:07 PM PT