Posted on Wednesday, Dec 1st 2021
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When you run a business over a long period of time, technology changes create massive challenges. When we spoke in 2016, CEO David Braun had navigated TemplateMonster through several of these. In 2019, David became a Member of Parliament in the Ukraine.
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 circumstances? David Braun: I’m from Georgia – the former USSR country. I’ve lived there until I turned 11. In 1992, Russia initiated the war in Georgia. We were a very wealthy family. We had to drop everything we had – house, apartments, cars, and so on. We just moved in one day with just the clothes we were wearing. I still have my shorts in which I had to run away. That’s all we had to start.
My father was a teacher. He was teaching math. My mother was a cosmetic specialist. We were moving from one place to another, wherever friends offered free places to live. It all ended up in a small city in Ukraine where I graduated from school and finished university.
In 2000, when I was still in my third year student at the university, I started to fall in love with marketing. I started to read old books that I could find. By that time, Internet was not full of information. It was quite hard to find good information. Then I was invited to work as a junior expert in marketing for a consulting company that was doing business restructuring projects in Ukraine. I started to work there and I was fortunate because the project was built with a mission to train Ukrainian consultants. I passed probably hundreds of different trainings from product development and creating distribution network to financial analysis. Basically, it was an MBA program but unstructured.
In 2001, I met a guy from New York who had lived in Ukraine for a bit. We had a few drinks together and he invited me to join his startup. I didn’t know anything about online. He told me, “We have a web design studio. The idea is to run a web design agency that would do a lot of custom development for different kinds of businesses.” Because Ukraine had a lot of programming and designer talent, he came to Ukraine to find partners. He said, “I will do the sales and you will do the production.” I said, “It sounds like a good idea but I don’t have any expertise in that.” However, I’d already read in the book that Internet is popular, so I had to try.
I took a vacation for two weeks from my day time job and gave myself a goal. If I feel that I can go a good job in this position, then I would quit my job. Within two weeks, we took one client who paid us $7,000, which was a lot of money at that time, to build a clone of General Electric website. We initially felt like we were millionaires. The first serious customer gave us $7,000. We finalized the project in the first seven months.
Sramana Mitra: When was this? David Braun: 2001.
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 More »» . 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 . 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Bay Dynamics Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services . Building an AI Software Company from Dallas . RJMetrics Co-founders Bootstrapped First, Raised $22M Later . Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Business BuyAutoParts to Exit . TemplateMonster was Bootstrapped to $15 Million . Bootstrapping Edge Hosting to $18 Million . Bootstrapping, Fund Raising and Exiting with Sefaira . Bootstrapping IdeaScale to $5M from Scratch . Bootstrapping to $10M from Finland . Happy Grasshopper CEO Dan Stewart Bootstrapped to Inflection . Bootstrapping Gravity Pro Using Services . Founder Builds Multiple Bootstrapped Education Software Companies . Bootstrapping to $10M from Australia, Raising $25M from the US . Bootstrapped Y Soft to $30M from the Czech Republic . Bootstrapped from Belarus, Raised Money from Silicon Valley . Bootstrapped SproutLoud to $30M from Florida . Bootstrapped 2600Hz Using Services