Scrappy underdogs

So, this month we have grown to a 7 member team. We also moved a big ass table in my 150 sq. ft. apartment and converted my bedroom to a conference room. This is also the room where the tech team sits. Some how there is something truly inspiring about bootstrapping your venture. It shows you the importance of cash and also enables you to focus on only the few core things that matter – product, customers & survival.

Till recently, we were taking most of the meetings at Costa Coffee on 12th Main IndiraNagar. Obviously we didn’t order anything but when someone offered us to ‘have’ something we never said no. “Never say no to free food or free coffee” this I believe was the most important lesson I learnt during the days of my struggle in ’08-’09. I still live by it. But one fine day we decided to start shifting meetings to our office only, I was kind of apprehensive as I wasn’t sure how people will react to seeing that the guys who were speaking of all the grand things & plans were actually working from a 150 sq. ft office, which also happened to be home to one of them. But when we started seeing people coming in, we realised how powerful it was. Inadvertently we had opened our doors for our partners (& thus the community) to be part of our start up life. The moment this thought occurred it was highly liberating. Since then we started having all our interviews, partner meetings etc at our office only.

Next month we are growing our team by 2-3 people, so that means the mattresses have to be sold and a rollable cotton stuffed mattresses, bought. Well, I have always been a scrappy underdog, been broke multiple times and slept at all obscure places like local train, train platforms, bus stands while in Mumbai, so all this is still luxury and not beyond me. Hustling my way till now. And the fact that you have great friends as co founders & a fantastic team then it becomes even easier.

So here is how our first office looks like –


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Bootstrapping is the way to go!!!

I first came across the concept of “Bootstrapping” reading Guy Kawasaki’s post on his blog and I was in the final year of my college at that time. I also read more about it from Guy’s book The Art of Start, which I feel is a fabulous resource for anyone who is starting a venture from scratch. If you dont have any prior experience then this book is your bible.

After reading the chapters for ‘n’ number of times, I thought that I had understood the concept of bootstrapping, until I was proven wrong. I went for an internship at after my graduation. At that time the team was 3 people strong, me and Mitanshu extended it to 5, though for a brief period of time. It was that one month at CommonFloor that I learnt a lot about running a venture. The venture was bootstrapped to the core and under the tutelage of Sumit and Lalit, cofounders, also hailing from IIT Roorkee, that I learnt the traits of bootstrapping and how thinking a liitle creatively an entrepreneur can do away with unnecessary expenses.

No marketing activity was carried out until and unless it had proven its ROI on paper. I dont think that they did any sort of outsourcing and learnt all the traits of the game themselves, which further saved them loads of money and left them enormously well equipped to tackle any situation in the future.

Here is another very interesting and insightful article on Bootstrapping.

You can also download “The Bootstrapper’s Bible” from here. It is Seth Godin’s wonderful ebook on how one can make bootstrapping his way of life.

I now feel that it has to be a part of one’s lifestyle when one is starting up. I still remember how I saved lots of money myself while starting up dietz. As an entrepreneur you cant afford to accept things as they are.

Say for example, why do you need an external agency to run marketing campaigns for you, or an external agency to build the prototype for you. If everything has to be done by external agencies then what’s your role? To manage them, co-ordinate with them, you might say but will you learn anything that way? I guess no, even if you do then the cost of learning would be too high!!!

If you ask Sumit or Lalit anything about their technology, their business or entrepreneurship in general they will tell you so much that you probably will repent asking the question in the first place.

So go ahead, bootstrap your venture, it will be fun and once you have mastered it you will realise how creative and knowledgeable you have become.he