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Best of Bootstrapping: Bootstrapping KURU Footwear from Utah

Posted on Thursday, Feb 17th 2022

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

To succeed in e-commerce today, you need to look for unserved niches with unique products. Learn how KURU Footwear Founder Bret Rasmussen bootstrapped an e-commerce startup from Utah.

Sraman a 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?

Bret Rasmussen: I was born in Utah, but my parents quickly moved to Indiana. We actually lived a few years in Italy until I was about eight or nine years old. Then we moved to Taiwan and then back to Indiana. I graduated high school in Texas and then I went to college out west here in Utah. 

Sramana Mitra: What profession were your parents in that made you move so much?

Bret Rasmussen: My dad was in corporate finance and management. He worked for a Fortune 100 company – a pharmaceutical company. They transferred him to a few different job opportunities around the world. 

Sramana Mitra: What year did you finish college in Utah?

Bret Rasmussen: In 2004. 

Sramana Mitra: What did you study?

Bret Rasmussen: Business Finance with an English minor. 

Sramana Mitra: What happened in 2004 when you finished college?

Bret Rasmussen: I got a job at a carbon fiber manufacturing startup that was trying to commercialize a patented carbon technology for use in towers and structures. They didn’t end up successfully commercializing it.

I started working for them while I was still in college and when I graduated, I worked for them full time for about a year. They had to downsize because we were unsuccessful in making it to mass production. They ended up laying off a lot of people and I was one of them.  

Sramana Mitra: What did you do next?

Bret Rasmussen: I started applying for jobs and thought that now would be a good time to start a company. I always wanted to start a company. In fact, in fifth grade I wanted to start a shoe company. I had all these different business ideas including the shoe idea.

I started researching and trying to learn more about how to start a company and which industry would be the best to go into. I had tech ideas, software ideas, and a lot of ideas. I reached a point where I said to myself, “I don’t know how to do this.”

I figured that since I was going to learn how to do it anyway, I might as well do something that I’m passionate about. When I thought back, I realized that ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to start a shoe company. I was always passionate about footwear.

I thought that success increases with passion, so I might as well chase something that I was passionate about. That was when I decided to chase the shoe dream. I started networking, learning about the footwear industry, and learning how shoes are made. 

Sramana Mitra: What did you learn? What was the hypothesis? What was the investment thesis of this company?

Bret Rasmussen: If you go back and look at my original business plan and what I was trying to create, it’s different to who we are today. I think that’s the case for 99.99 % of businesses that get started. What they think their business is in ends up having to pivot two or three times or more. That’s what we experienced.

What I want to be is a melding of lifestyles. I also believe that in order to be relevant to the customer, I had to do more than just be a brand. I had to create a product that was different and unique than anything else out there. I wanted to invent a technology.

I took the concept of combining the support and the proven comfort of an orthotic and built it into a shoe. I wanted to design a shoe around that concept. Imagine an orthotic built into the shoe. Most shoes have a flat thin flimsy insole that doesn’t give you much support.

I thought that we could use a molded plastic TPU, a highly flexible material, into the shoe. You could get a much better fitting shoe that is much more comfortable and performs better. That was the genesis for our technology idea. I thought that if I could come with a technology that was compelling – something that was better, faster and easier for the customer – then I thought that I could have a winner. 

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 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
. 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
. Bootstrapping Using Services to $12M
. Bootstrapping an Ad Tech Company from Paris
. Bootstrapping a 100% Virtual Company from Ireland
. MiQ CEO Bootstraps with Services from London
. Bootstrapping to $8M During the Covid Crisis
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Sweden
. What Should Startups Do To Raise Seed Capital in 2021?
. EdTech Unicorn Bootstrapped First from Canada
. Coalition Technologies Co-founders Bootstrap to $10M
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to $10M from Atlanta
. Bootstrapping a SaaS Company with a Paycheck and Scaling
. Bootstrapping with Services to $20 Million
. Onit CEO Bootstraps First, Raises Money Later
. Pura Vida Founders Bootstrap to $130M
. Lawline CEO Bootstraps to $10M
. Bootstrapping a Technology Product Company from India
. Codesigned CEO Bootstraps Using Services
. Rukkus CEO Follows Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later Strategy
. Bootstrapping and Managing a Successful Pivot
. Ukrainian Entrepreneur Bootstraps to Global Scale
. Bootstrapping a Niche E-Commerce Venture
. Bootstrapping Planon to $100M from The Netherlands
. Co-founder Bootstrapped with a Paycheck from Indiana
. Bootstrapping an Education Company
. Bootstrapping an IoT Company from North Carolina
. Serial Bootstrapper Bootstraps to $27M
. Bootstrapping Identity Automation Using Services from Houston
. Bootstrapping ProjectManager.com from NZ, Scaling in the US
. Bootstrapping to $15M in Three Years
. Peruvian Entrepreneur Bootstraps to $200M
. JotForm Founder Bootstrapped with a Paycheck
. WeGoLook was Bootstrapped from Oklahoma
. Bootstrapping AutoClaims Direct to $15M
. Meltwater Founder Bootstrapped to $200M
. Bootstrapping to $20M From London
. Synechron CEO Bootstrapped to $300M
. Unique Vintage was Bootstrapped with a Paycheck
. Toptal CEO Bootstraps a Virtual Company to Scale
. Bootstrapping to $45M from Chicago
. Vacasa Co-founder Bootstrapped to $100M
. Bootstrapping Infinitely Virtual All The Way
. Bootstrapping to Exit Discussion with David Lambert, Right Side Capital Management
. Bootstrapping a Healthcare IT Company to $100M
. Discussing Seed Rounds with Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures
. Auction.com Bootstrapped to $180M in Online Real Estate
. Discussing the Silicon Valley – India Corridor with Naren Gupta of Nexus Venture Partners
. Bootstrapped with a Paycheck to Techstars and Acquisition
. Discussing People vs. Market with Jon Staenberg, Staenberg Venture Partners
. Bootstrapping a Highly Profitable Company in Social Media Marketing
. Discussing Investments in Indian Startups with Anand Daniel, Accel Partners
. Bootstrapping an Evergreen Business from Oregon
. Discussing Startups in Africa with Osayi Igharo, Ripple VC
. Investing in Concept Stage Startups with Matt Holleran, Cloud Apps Capital Partners
. Serial Entrepreneur Bootstrapped Two Startups to Huge Revenue
. Discussing Investment Strategy With Deepak Jeevankumar, Dell Technologies Capital
. Bootstrapping Hotelplanner.com to $20M with Intelligent Financial Engineering
. Discussing Investing Across Sectors in India with Swapna Gupta, Qualcomm Ventures
. Bootstrapping Cleverbridge From Germany
. Discussing Open Opportunities with Hemant Mohapatra, Lightspeed Venture Partners
. Bootstrapping E-commerce Company Fun.com
. Discussing Seed Rounds with Bruce Cleveland, Wildcat Venture Partners
. From Friends and Family Funding to $30M Exit
. Discussing the Evolution of the Indian Startup Industry with Sasha Mirchandani, Kae Capital
. Lean Company Bootstraps to $7M
. Saatva Co-founder Bootstrapped a $25M E-Commerce Company
. Looking at Terms with Heidi Roizen of Threshold Ventures
. ADDA Co-founder CEO Bootstrapped with a Paycheck in India
. Duda Co-founders Bootstrap with Paychecks
. The Importance of Building Value with Shomit Ghose, Onset Ventures
. Get Real Health Founder Bootstrapped Using Services
. Bootstrapping Unique Vintage Using a Paycheck
. Discussing E-commerce Startup Trends with Daniel Gulati, Forecast Fund
. Bootstrapping a Digital Startup with a Paycheck
. Discussing Seed Stages with Amir Banifatemi of K5 Ventures
. Bootstrapping Avelead Using Services from Atlanta
. Founder Bootstrapped a Big Data Company Using Services
. Discussing Future Unicorns with Warren Weiss, Foundation Capital
. Founder Bootstrapped Axosoft with a Paycheck
. Raised a Series A with $10 Million in the Bank
. Discussing Unicorn Investments with Ravi Mohan of Shasta Ventures
. Bootstrapping a $7M Company in Houston
. A View into Pre-Seed Funding with Gaurav Jain, Afore Capital
. Bootstrapping to $13M in Niche E-commerce
. Discussing European Startup Funding with Alastair Mitchell, EQT Ventures
. Founder Bootstrapped Category Leading E-commerce Company Shoplet
. Discussing Trends With Yanev Suissa, SineWave Ventures
. Founder Mark Organ Bootstrapped Eloqua and Crowdfunded Influitive
. Sourcing Global Ventures with Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad
. JAM CEO Survives Covid with a Bootstrapped Venture
. E-commerce and Investing with Tod Francis, Shasta Ventures
. How An Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped RuffleButts To $5M
. TextMe Founders Bootstrapped an App to $10M
. Bootstrapped Journey of a Child Entrepreneur in India
. Discussing Alternatives to Traditional Venture Capital with Bryce Roberts, Indie.vc
. Solo Founder Bootstrapped Wingify to $7 Million in India
. Co-founder Bootstrapped a SaaS Company in India
. Bootstrapped MindTouch to $12M+ and Exit
. Mobiliya Technologies was Bootstrapped Using Services
. What Traditional VCs are Looking for with Scott Sandell, NEA
. Bootstrapped Srishti Software Applications with Services from India
. How Robust SaaS Company RateGain was Bootstrapped from India
. Bootstrapped eGroup to $20M in Charleston, South Carolina
. Gravitant CEO Bootstrapped Using Services to $15M in Venture Capital
. CEO Bootstrapped Sitecore Using Services from Denmark
. Co-founder Dan Hermann on Bootstrapping Paint Nite
. Founder Krishna Kumar Bootstrapped App Orchid Using Services
. Bootstrapping a Web Hosting Company to $60M
. Bootstrapping CloudSense with Services on Force.com from London
. Bootstrapped Book E-Commerce Business BookPal
. Student Entrepreneurs Bootstrapped a Zero-Logistics E-Commerce Company to $19M
. Bootstrapped to a High Growth Inc. 500 Company
. 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
. Bootstrapped and Later Raised Money from Oregon
. Bootstrapping Evenica by Piggybacking
. Bootstrapping a Vertical CRM Product using Services
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Helsinki, Finland
. Solo Entrepreneur Bootstraps First, Raises Money Later in Utah
. Art.com Co-founder on Bootstrapping First, Raising $30M Later
. Bootstrapping to Exit
. Why is Bootstrapping So Important?
. How Can You Play the Low-Probability Game of Start-up Funding Intelligently?
. Don’t Go to VCs as Beggars – Go as Kings!
. Excess is NOT a Requirement for Success
. Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later
. More Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies
. The Buy Side of Bootstrap to Exit Startups
. Blitzscaling versus Bootstrapping
. Bootstrapped Unicorns
. Bootstrapped from Arizona to $10M
. Bootstrapping Under30Experiences to $5M
. Bootstrapping Algo.ai with Services from Michigan
. Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Startups
. Bootstrapping a Niche E-commerce Company to $20M
. Bootstrap Using Services
. 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
. How Ownership Matters
. Bootstrapping with Services from Romania to over $5M
. Bootstrapping to $30M from Florida
. Bootstrapping Tuft & Needle to Over $100M
. Bootstrapping Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Co-founders Bootstrap a SaaS Company from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped to $10M from Colorado
. Bootstrapping Power2Motivate to $80M from Canada
. Founder Bootstrapped to Over $10M from Australia
. Bootstrapping Niche E-commerce Brand Big Barker
. PrecisionLender Bootstrapped to Over $10M from North Carolina
. Master Bootstrappers with $1+ Billion in Exits
. Bootstrapped Ultra Mobile to Over $100 Million
. Bootstrapping a 2-Sided Marketplace to $10M

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