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Best of Bootstrapping: Madwire CEO Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later to $120M

Posted on Friday, Jun 26th 2020

This discussion with Madwire Co-CEO JB Kellogg includes 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.

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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