Posted on Friday, Apr 8th 2022
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Art.com Co-founder Josh Chodniewicz bootstrapped for 10 years before raising a $30 million first round of funding. Read on to learn more about his journey.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raise, and in what kind of background? Josh Chodniewicz: I was born in New Jersey. I am the oldest of seven kids. My parents had seven kids in nine years. Sramana Mitra: Sounds exhausting! Josh Chodniewicz: Yes. Having three kids of my own, I have a new appreciation for that. I now understand why they weren’t at every one of my soccer games. I was the son of an entrepreneur. My father was an entrepreneur. He paid his bills building houses and spent a large amount of his time pastoring a church. My mom was his partner in life. She was a receptionist. She did accounting work. They are a great team. If you ask me how I got started, I had an entrepreneurial bend at a young age. Sramana Mitra: Entrepreneur’s kids are very often entrepreneurs. My father was an entrepreneur as well. I knew, when I was 16, that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Josh Chodniewicz: Right. This morning, my wife wasn’t feeling well, so I took the kids to school. On the way to school, we were talking about the differences between working for someone versus working for yourself. One of the comments the kids made was funny. They said, “How many jobs does Jeff Bezos have?” They thought that he must have a thousand jobs to have a lot of money.
I was seven years old when I started my first business. I was engaged at a zoo. That was when I learned that chickens lay an egg every day. Those eggs then get bought for 10 cents each at that time. They’re basically laying dimes for you. I convinced my parents to allow me to have 70 chickens in my backyard. That was the beginning of a little chicken business where I made $3,000 that year. You go through a process of seeing the benefits of running a business.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do for schooling? Josh Chodniewicz: I did not go to college. Through the 12 years of schooling, I’m not sure my parents uttered the word college to me. My father was born and raised in Buenos Aires. He came to America as a 16-year-old with $20 in his pocket. He never did more than 7th-grade education because they decided he was going to work to help pay the family bills.
He took a job at an architecture firm and started working as a helper there. He didn’t have much in education. He spoke Spanish predominantly. It just wasn’t important to him, so it ended up as not important to me. I’m not saying it’s not important.
Sramana Mitra: You started a company right away after high school? Josh Chodniewicz: I already had some things going on the side. I helped with my father’s construction business. I stepped in to help the business. The second and third year out of high school was when I started Art.com.
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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