Category Archives: Bootstrapping

What’s the Role of a Non-Tech Founder?

An interesting article popped up on Harvard Business Review Blog saying “Tech Startups Need Non-Techies to Succeed” which touches upon very important elements startup founders need to think about.

In today’s age where software development is all the rage, and having a tech co-founder is seen as a must, many forget that a great company is not built on the product alone, but rather on a combination of product, marketing, sales, and overall good business planning.

Consider the software industry, where we have successful brands like Windows and Oracle. While these two firms have world-class intellectual properties, I think their true innovation is in the pricing model around their businesses. – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

Yup, the author’s right. At every event or meetup I attend, there is always a handful of startup founders that are building great new social-mobile apps. How are you going to monetize? What is your pricing and distribution strategy? I ask… only to hear “oh, we’ll think about that later, after we raise some VC money”. OK, good luck in going down that path!

Who needs business co-founders?

According to the Startup Genome report, “business-heavy founding teams are 6.2x more likely to successfully scale with sales driven startups than with product centric startups”. This makes sense, and the report also points out that “balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money“.

The fact is, a well balanced founding team is key for success.

While a lot of attention in the software startup is paid to the technology stack, prototypes, and the like, movements such as the “lean startup”, and “customer development” are getting a lot of traction because they bring to technology founders the common business sense they sometimes lack.

Steve Blank‘s customer development process, which talks about the business model canvas, for example, is a typical exercise someone with an MBA would know instinctively. For a programmer, not so much.

Who’s in the team?

There are many views about who should be in the founding team. Dharmesh Shah,  co-founder of the successful VC-backed HubSpot argues that first comes the Developer, followed by a Designer, an Inbound Marketer, and a Sales person. Naval, from VentureHacks, has a post about the power of two, a developer and a sales guy.

Enterpreneur turned investor, Manu Kumar, once gave a talk at an event I attended where he laid out his view of the perfect team. He said the founding team should have the following skills: developer, designer, and business. It could all be part of one person’s skillset but this is hard to accomplish, usually there are two or three people representing these skills.

A similar question on Quora has elicited many responses, some similar to what I outlined above, some a bit different.

Some food for thought.


Bootstrapping to Success

Rob Walling, from Micropreneur Academy, has a great post about successful startups that bootstrapped their way to becoming profitable. It’s a great list and nice tales that gives us bootstrappers more incentive to keep on going!

Check out “Ten Highly Successful Bootstrapped Startups” for the full article.


Startup Success: What Can We Learn from Balsamiq

The Business of Software Conference is one of the best events I’ve attended. It’s not a startup themed conference, but most people attending are either working for one or starting one. Is a software conference at heart and a place where you learn what to do and mistakes to avoid.

I didn’t go to last year’s conference but they are now releasing some of the videos for BOS 2010. This one from Peldi Guilizzoni, the founder and CEO of Balsamiq, is especially interesting. I’ve been following Peldi’s blog for a while and he’s a truly remarkable guy. Not only was he able to get $2M revenue in 2 years with 2,800 customers but he did that in  a market that already has a couple of really strong competitors. How he did it? There’s a quote from Steve Martin he says is a key component to success:

Be so good they can’t ignore you

Listen to the talk and learn from his story.

Bootstrapped Startups Now Have MicroConf 2011

With so much talk about Angel and VC funding and a new startup bubble forming, is refreshing to see that self-funded startups still have a place to go to share ideas and best practices. That’s why MicroConf 2011 is worth checking out.

Put together by veterans of the startup world, Rob Walling and Mike Taber, MicroConf is a conference that was born out of the passion that the founders and their followers have for the bootstrapped and micro-ISV startups. Rob and Mike run the highly successful Micropreneur Academy, a site that teaches you how to get your startup off the ground and has a very active community. Is exactly this community that has been clamoring for some time now for a place where they can physically meet and exchange ideas.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, if you are a bootstrapped startup, or if you are a one-man show (micro-ISV or single founder startup) then this is a conference worth checking out.

To register, go to the MicroConf 2011 website (or click image below).

Conference Details

  • June 6 & 7 in Las Vegas, NV
  • Hosted by Rob Walling and Mike Taber

Speakers Include

Who Should Attend?
Anyone launching a startup with no outside funding who wants to hang out with and learn from 225 of today’s leading founders and entrepreneurs.