Last week I found myself in the northeast corner of Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan on a gorgeous, sunny day at noon. I was surrounded, or so I thought, by budding entrepreneurs, eager bootstrappers ready to get their next big Internet venture off the ground.
It was Internet Week and I had signed up to attend StartupAlpha.com’s Bootstrap Lunch. The lunch was described as an opportunity to learn how to launch your Silicon Alley startup for $198 and to share self-funding techniques during the picnic.
OK, in retrospect the $198 number should have tipped me off. Still, I liked the premise of the lunch. Bootstrapping and self-funding are sexy words to reporters. We are trained to follow the money.
I had visions of hearing stories about the next generation of tech thought leaders landing six-figure seed funding, or maybe $1 million in angel dollars. I’d learn about how the next Twitter or blip.tv or Visible Measures was getting off the ground. After all, gobs of venture capital work really well for some companies—just ask Next New Networks or Veoh Networks—but others have done fine with much smaller venture bets. Web video shop For Your Imagination, for instance, has been producing Web video for TV networks, studios and brands on a work-for-hire basis until the company’s own Web series become profitable.
I went to the lunch hoping to find the next scrappy strategy.
Instead, the advice was this: Register your business name, trademark it and get yourself a post office box because it’s unprofessional to list your apartment number on an invoice.
Sure, good ideas. But I wanted something a little meatier.
So I turn to you, the readers, and ask for your best bootstrapping ideas. Some of you run big companies. Some of you run small concerns. Many of you have launched your own Web video series. My guess is you all spent more than $198.
How did you fund your startup? Your online TV project? Did you find an angel? Get some dough from mom and dad? Land seed funding? Raise a small amount of venture capital? Secure a strategic partner?
These are the stories I want to hear. Please contact me and share them, and I will write a follow-up column with the best bootstrapping ideas.