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Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later: Criteria CEO Josh Millet (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Feb 19th 2021
Profile photo of Josh Millet

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

Josh has bootstrapped Criteria to almost $5M in revenue before raising funding.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background did you have?

Josh Millet: I was born in Toronto, Canada. I have dual citizenship of US and Canada. I came to the States for school 20 years ago and have been here ever since.

I had an indirect route to software entrepreneurship. I did a graduate degree in medieval French history. I was intent on being a professor at that point. At the end of grad school in 2000, I started a test preparation website with a friend of mine. This was when the first dotcom boom was crashing. We started that venture and sold it a year and a half later. That was when I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug.

Sramana Mitra: Where was this grad school?

Josh Millet: This was at Harvard. 

Sramana Mitra: Did you finish your Ph.D.?

Josh Millet: Yes. I finished it in seven years. I spent the better part of my twenties doing that. 

Sramana Mitra: This was probably the same time that I was in MIT. 

Josh Millet: Yes, maybe there was some overlap there. The test preparation company that I started was acquired by a software company out of Los Angeles when we were only 18 months in. The dotcom bubble had just burst back then, so it seemed like the right move for us to do this buyout. That’s how I came to live in Los Angeles, and I have lived here ever since. 

Sramana Mitra: Did you work for this company that acquired you?

Josh Millet: That’s right. There were five of us in that startup. I was the one who volunteered to come out and work for the acquirer. I ran our startup as a division of this bigger company based in Culver City. It was a great experience. I learned a lot from Allen, the CEO of the acquirer. He became my mentor.

That leads to the origin story of my current company. As part of my role there, I was put in charge of hiring. I had no experience at that time. That led me to start my company Criteria three years later. This is a SaaS-based software company that specializes in employment assessment. We help companies and organizations make decisions by using evidence-based tools and assessments. 

Sramana Mitra: What year was that?

Josh Millet: I moved to California in 2002 and worked for that other company for three years. We founded Criteria in 2006. 

This segment is part 1 in the series : Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later: Criteria CEO Josh Millet
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