In the world of startups, one fact that is very often glossed over is that most startups do not ever raise any money, much less Kleiner-Perkins venture capital money. Even then, only a very small percentage of companies do raise any venture capital – and the majority still fail.
For the startups who don’t raise venture capital, how do we fund our businesses from startup, through cash-flow positive, through profitability? We bootstrap it. But what does that look like?
Completely simplified, bootstrapping a business is very clear: you use only the money you have and the money you make from the business to start, build, and grow the business. More specifically, here are a few of the things that you may and may not do in order to bootstrap your business.
Members of the Buster team mapping out their redesign. Photo by Adam Brodowski.
We recently completely redesigned Buster, our online booking site for buses, limos, and vans, after the first version (v1) of our website had been live for about a year. It was our first big review of what had worked in our early product, and what hadn’t, and our biggest chance so far to refresh our thinking about the business we’re growing. Rethinking our product was both cathartic and grueling. Here are the hardest things we had to do to make it happen.
A recent University of Phoenix survey showed that 63% of 20-somethings have a strong desire to start a business. That’s a great first step: desire. But what else does it take to start a business that is sustainable? Since 1999, right around the time many of these 20-somethings were born, I’ve started seven businesses. Five of them failed. In that time, I’ve learned from experience what it takes to be a startup founder.
Mia Pokriefka enrolled in User Experience Design in January 2014 at General Assembly’s Los Angeles campus. Before long, she was able to combine her passion for serving and empowering people with her newly-learned UX skills into a site called Elm. Together with her best friend, Elissa, and a former classmate, Amanda, Mia is building her own company. Elm teaches everyone the skills you need for life based on other people’s shared experiences. Continue reading →
When Nick Katz started our part-time Digital Marketing course in London, he immediately became immersed in the network of GA students that would go on to become his co-founders. After completing the course, Katz teamed up with fellow graduates to create an app, Splittable, to help anyone who lives with housemates and has shared expenses.
Splittable launched in the summer of 2015 and the team has now closed their first, seed investment round from some of London’s leading tech VCs and angels, including Seedcamp, Playfair Capital, and Lord David Young. They are also backed by the Mayor of London’s Co-Investment Fund.
When our co-founders launched General Assembly in 2011, they didn’t set out to start an education company – let alone, an entirely new category of education. To put things in perspective, at the end of 2013, GA had served just over 5,000 students. By the end of this year, over 20,000 students will have completed our programs in technology, business, data, and design.
This July, General Assembly’s Atlanta campus hosted a panel discussion called How to land a job at a startup. Three in-house recruiter panelists were there from three Atlanta high-tech startups: Ionic Security, InfusionSoft, and Pindrop Security. All the companies have raised several rounds of VC financing, and all are actively hiring tech and marketing talent.
They discussed providing an outlet for the Atlanta tech startup community about how to land a job at a fast-growing, VC-funded tech startup. The lessons we learned from this panel discussion can be broken up into three categories.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” -Alice Walker
SOLA/HACK was a design hackathon I organized, hosted by General Assembly’s downtown L.A. campus. Participants included current students and alumni from General Assembly and USC. The objective of the hackathon was to apply design thinking and UX design principles to issues specific to the South L.A. community, with an eye toward how appropriate uses of technology could be used to help address social, economic, and environmental problems. While technology can be a powerful tool for change (think of the crucial role of cell phones during the Arab Spring uprising), it was stressed that there is not an easy techno-fix to every social problem. So participants were encouraged to look beyond just apps or websites and employ systems-based thinking on their solutions.
Ever since starting a dog walking business at the ripe old age of 10, Dane Atkinson has been hooked on entrepreneurship. He wrote his first piece of software at 12 and starting working in advertising at 13. By the time he was 18 years old, Dane was the C.O.O of an advertising company with about 30 employees. Now, he’s making headlines as the CEO of SumAll, a social media and e-commerce data platform, where he’s implemented a company-wide pay transparency policy.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Dane when he came in to film a live stream. Read on to discover his thoughts on entrepreneurship, open data, social media, and more.
It was a Tuesday morning deep in Lower Manhattan, steps away from the World Trade Center and City Hall. While suits swarmed the sidewalks on their way to offices in the sky, we made our way to LMHQ, which hosts events and allows space for coworking.
Fellow startup folks filled the main room, chatting, exchanging cards, drinking coffee, and taking pictures of the whiteboard art. It seemed exactly like the kind of place where Techweek New York would kick off, with none-other than a CTO as the featured speaker. But this wasn’t the kind of CTO the startup crowd is used to hearing — it was Minerva Tantoco, the very first CTO for the government of the City of New York.