Posted on Wednesday, Jan 5th 2022
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This is a wonderful story of a Czech entrepreneur, Vaclav Muchna, Co-owner and CEO of Y Soft. At age 22, at a time when his country was far from ready to support entrepreneurs, he struggled through immense odds and has built a global business. Read on for inspiration and excellent lessons from our discussion in 2017.
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? Vaclav Muchna: I was born in Czech Republic. I studied electronics in high school, which I didn’t like. It was not possible back then that would parlay into the software industry. Because the country was not so developed, access to technologies was limited. I really didn’t like the school. I was born and raised in Prague and then moved to Brno which is the largest city. Sramana Mitra: I’ve been to both by the way. Vaclav Muchna: You’ve been to Brno? Sramana Mitra: We actually drove from Vienna to Prague, and we went through Brno. Vaclav Muchna: I moved to Brno because it had the only university that had a faculty in informatics where I could focus on studying software. Of course, my parents gave me some money to support my studies. Studies in the Czech Republic are quite cheap. The tuition fees are paid by the government. I was living in the dormitory. I got about $150 a month and that was fine to live comfortably.
As a side job, I went for three days to a local market and my job was to stock the shelves. The job paid $1.20 per hour. I needed to do something else. I was working with computers and coding for years already. So I said, “Maybe it’s time to start earning money through programming.” I looked around trying to get some job but for some reason, when I did the interviews, I didn’t like the feeling because it was like you were talking to an authority.
Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you had a lot of attitude. Vaclav Muchna: I did have a big problem with authorities all the time. Sramana Mitra: That’s the kind of personality that typically becomes entrepreneurs. Vaclav Muchna: I’m unemployable. I started to work as a freelancer. In the university, I got introduced to the Internet and the Unix environment. I did admin things for Linux and Unix environments. I did software development basically. People would hire me to do some coding for them and develop some application. Because there was a shortage of developers and you don’t need to be really good to get some work, I quickly got more work than I could handle so I started to outsource the work to some people from the university.
After one and a half years, it felt good but if we wanted to get bigger, you don’t really get that chance as a freelancer. It was time to start a company. That was not as easy as it seemed because my parents were strongly against that. After our country went through privatization, nobody could own anything. Everything was owned by the government. After the revolution, the government had to return all the assets of the companies back to the people. They called it coupon privatization where part of the companies were returned to people in the form of coupons. The problem was that the legal structures were not really in place. They were not solid. The word entrepreneur had a negative meaning.
Even today, there is a negative connotation to that word. It is improving, but slowly. My parents were afraid that I would become an entrepreneur, which was “bad”. They also were afraid that the company would go bankrupt and executors would take their TV and their sofa. They never borrowed money. They were part of the generation that would never borrow money. They would always save, save, and save. It was very difficult to convince them. That was another reason why I didn’t start a company right away.
I started a company together with my friend. Interestingly enough, I had a friend who advised me. She helped me convince my parents. She told me, “I will only support you if you will own the company with the majority of shares. You’re 20 years old. You’re full of ideals.” I wanted to do 50/50. She said no. We started at 52/48. That’s how we started YSoft.
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 . 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 . 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Bootstrapping Using Services and Scaling Using Content Marketing . Bootstrapped from London, Went Public and Scaled to $450M . Bootstrapped Credit Card Processing Business Payscape . Bootstrapped TEOCO to $175M with Services . InRule Was Bootstrapped Using Services . HighQ was Bootstrapped Using Services from London . Ingenious Med was Bootstrapped with a Paycheck from Atlanta . Bootstrapped VistaVu to $10M from Canada . OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth Bootstrapped in Pennsylvania . Pramata Founder Bootstrapped in Minnesota . Conversocial was Bootstrapped Using Services from London . Zephyr Health Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later . iText was Bootstrapped from Belgium . CTO Bootstrapped InteliSecure Using Services from Colorado . Bootstrapping Evariant Using Services . Dave Elkington Bootstrapped Billion Dollar Unicorn InsideSales.com Using Services from Utah . PMG Founders Bootstrapped Using Services from Atlanta . Ensighten Founder Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later . Bootstrapping LittleThings First, Raising Money Later . Bootstrapping eMazzanti Technologies Using Services . Reltio Founder Bootstrapped Using Services . Co-founders Bootstrapped Ateb Using Services from North Carolina . Bootstrapped HireVue While in School, Raised Money Later, All in Utah . Bootstrapping the First Venture, Raising Money for the Second . Co-founders Bootstrapped BeenVerified with Angel Money . Bootstrapping a Significant Software Company from Australia . Bootstrapping Meltwater to $200 Million . Bootstrapping Casewise from London and Scaling in the US . Bootstrapping Lessons Learned by FairWarning Founder Kurt Long . Abacus Group Founder Bootstrapped a Virtualization Services Company . Seismic Audio CEO Bootstrapped a $10 Million E-Commerce Business . PhishMe was Bootstrapped Using Services First, Raised Money Later . Firmex Scaled with Angel Money in Canada . Wrike Founder Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later . 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 . A Serial Bootstrapping Entrepreneur’s Journey . Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later from Udupi, Karnataka . Bootstrapped with Services, Raised Money, and then Acquired by Salesforce . Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Company Modded Euros . Bootstrapping KURU Footwear from Utah . Bootstrapped to $5M First, Raised Money Later . Ninth Wave Founder Bootstrapped Using Services . Bootstrapping Vantage Circle from Guwahati, India . Bootstrapping JobNimbus First, Raising Money Later . Bootstrapping Infragistics for 30 Years . Bootstrapping Zimit Using Services to $10M . Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps an E-commerce Business Using a Paycheck and Crowdfunding . Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services, then Raised $10M and Scaled to $16M . SearchStax Founder Bootstraps to $10M Using Services . Bootstrapping an AI Startup Using Services . Bootstrap to Exit and THEN do a VC-Funded Venture . Bootstrapping Using Services to $26M and a Fabulous Exit . Solo Entrepreneur Bootstraps with a Paycheck to over $15M . 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Bootstrapping The Intern Group to $13M . Bootstrapping OnBoard from the US Midwest . Bootstrapping SmartBuyGlasses to $50M . Startup Deaths by Overfunding . Bootstrapping RainmakerForce Decisively to $5M+ . Bootstrapping a Virtual Company with a Paycheck . The Entrepreneur - VC Compensation Disbalance . Mitch Russo Bootstrapped Timeslips to Exit with Sage . Bootstrapping with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering