Get your startup launched by Bootstrapping ? Lean Startup Circle is a series of meetups worldwide, focused on sharing and learning all about current Lean Startup Practitioners and the different techniques that have proved effective or not. This time around, during the 3rd meetup of the year, we decided on focusing on the elements that it takes to keep your startup in a Bootstrapping phase. But, what is Bootstrapping in the first place?
The official definition for the often used term is: “get (oneself or something) into or out of a situation using existing resources.” Getting a startup off the ground is never easy, yet many rush to get funding before getting established and defining their product, business model & goals. This is where the concept of Bootstrapping comes in, by doing the most you can, defining your startup, getting to know the market and building a minimum viable product, MVP or prototype with as minimum resources needed as possible, in order to test it out in the market and asses the results with the less risk possible. During the meetup we welcomed two up and coming startups, part of the Project Brainchild program, MyBump and CanLaw. They shared with us their journey, as well as some great advice on how to stay afloat and always moving forward during the early days after their launch.
Co-Founder and COO of MyBump, Dhanish Athif explaining his experience in bootstrapping in MyBump.
Sharing some tips about bootstrapping, Soon Yi, the Co-Founder and CEO of CanLaw in action. Here’s a recap of the top learning from both startups:
There’s a tool for that Nowadays, almost every aspect and process in a startup will have a tool that will make your life easier. With online tools like Trello, Asana or Basecamp for project management, to Kakitangan, a local solution for your HR needs, to Buffer to help you out with your Social Media and Google Drive to create, share & store all your files. These are only a few examples of the many tools that you can start employing to make your processes easier. Take a look at this extended list to get you started.
Interview & Validate Another point that both founders agreed on, was that getting to know their customers was essential to their startup’s growth. It is important to point out that by interviewing we don’t mean passing out surveys and waiting patiently for the results. No, instead, this means going out, talking personally to your customers & potential customers, getting to know them, their personalities, their behaviour, their motivations, their struggles and how, if so, your proposed solution fits in their life. Does it really solve their problem? What other solutions are they currently using? What can be improved? In early stages of a startup, this is the practice that will get you the most valuable feedback, for you to really understand your market and adapt your prototype accordingly.
You can do a lot with just a landing page You don’t need to build your final product to get started and test it out with your market. One way of doing this is building a landing page simply describing your product and creating a call to action to collect emails. This information not only helps you validate your idea, but gets you started with a mailing list of possible customer who you can start interviewing to refine your product. All of those “Leave your email and get exclusive pre-launch access” websites you have seen around? That’s exactly what they’re doing and so can you.
Investigate before Build So, what do you do with all this information and data you have gathered from extensively interviewing your audience? Well, this is the basis of your product; this is your first hand research into what works, what doesn’t or what needs to be added and improved. All this research will give you a better idea of the model that works for your startup and the direction it can go. This research will also stop you from building something that is completely useless and not relevant to your potential customers. Want to take it a step further? Start doing the process manually, using free tools and going through every step yourself. This will give you a better idea of what it is that you should build and how to make it work best for your customers.
Exhaust the free Easier said than done, right? The struggle of doing all on your own with as little resources as possible will be worth it when you finally have a product tested and backed with valuable feedback from your audience. This will in turn will make it easier when it finally comes time to pitch for funding. Investors are more willing to invest when there are numbers to back your product and its model. Also, you will go in with a more clear vision for which direction will be the right to take. Ultimately, the thing that probably will be the most valuable of bootstrapping your startup will definitely be something that not many of us like to hear: What if it fails? By using the minimum amount of resources at this early stage, you eliminate the amount of loss if, by interviewing and researching and testing you come to the conclusion that maybe the idea is not the best, the timing is not right or maybe there are better solutions out there for the problem that you are trying to solve. Whatever your idea is, remember that Bootstrapping is a safe way to get started without risking much. The important thing is, that you give it a try and take the jump of creating a solution that with the perfect mix can turn into the next successful startup. Have an idea in mind? Get in touch! We can help you take the next steps, using the Lean Startup Methodology.
and here's some snapshots taken during the meetup: