How do entrepreneurs start their first bootstrap startup?


I really want to start my entrepreneurial career, the problem is I don't have money. I am mid-level IT manager, read lot of startup blogs, articles and books and keep planning (aka dreaming) about starting business. The problems are

  1. lack of capital,
  2. I am based in developing third world country with very limited startup capital opportunities, startup and IT culture in infancy.

Any ideas, please?

Bootstrapped Venture Entrepreneurs

asked May 16 '13 at 04:27
179 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans
  • Using those two things as excuses will not help you. The great thing about software/IT is that you can make significant things happen with just time/effort. The first step to success is to provide value to people who have a need or a perceived need. It really is that simple. Focus on what you CAN achieve - not on what the limitations are. – Tim J 10 years ago
  • In addition to TimJ's comments, you also (obviously) have an internet connection - so the sky is the limit! – Anonymous 10 years ago
  • It doesn't have to cost much money or take much time to create a startup. If you have the entrepreneurial spirit you will find a way. – Steve Jones 10 years ago
  • I agree with Steve Jones comment here. I am in the same shape. Started my career as a developer for 2 years now and tired in 9-5 jobs. Already started developing my startup after 2 years of reading/learning about startup companies. STOP MAKING EXCUSES, AND FIND A WAY! – Rg 3 10 years ago
  • what skills do you have personally ? – Siddharth 10 years ago
  • @Siddharth: Programming, leadership and project management – Ali 10 years ago

10 Answers


I just wrote a blog post today about that. I think your first startup should definitely be B2B and the short version is:

  1. Identify your best target customer
  2. Identify a problem they are willing to pay for
  3. Make sure it's repeatable, meaning other companies have this problem and they will pay money for solving this problem
  4. Build something that would solve their problem, start charging money.

Long version: watch the video I mentioned in my post.

answered May 16 '13 at 10:16
970 points


Do you have to have money to start something?

Do you have to have startup culture around you to start something?

I my opinion none of these necessary. Most important is your determination on doing something. It's the same in any job. The more determined you are the more success you are going to have. Don't get distracted about your situation.

Sure, if you exectute wrong you could fail, but you also learn from it. Right now you are in a situation where you have probably nothing to loose, but a lot to gain. Just be determined to start.

Btw. I am not 100% sure if that works for your country, but you can try something like kickstarter (aka crowd-funding) to raise some money.

answered May 16 '13 at 17:34
176 points


I'm assuming you'll want to bootstrap a software product.

Most bootstrappers are jack-of-all-trades, working on their products on free time while staying in their full-time jobs to finance the new business.

To take that path, you'll need to know how to:

  • Market your product
  • Design your product
  • Implement your product

If you have money, you can outsource some of the work. Still, you or your core team should have all of these skills.

The core of bootstrapping is to charge from day one, preferably even before.

Many bootstrappers don't have the funds to start with a software product, and they write ebooks and create other info-products. They market them via their blogs. If you want an inspiring example, look at Nathan Barry ( ). He came from "no-where" and his books have brought in more than enough money to build his first SaaS. He even took the risk and outsourced it.

Another good thing about that approach is that you'll be able to gain following before your product is out. You can use that momentum to build your product empire brick by brick. Business is all about customers, and sooner you have them, the better you can serve them.

In addition to Nathan, you might want to take a look at Amy Hoy's blog, She's the queen of bootstrapping and most of what I've learned from bootstrapping comes from her.

It sounds to me that you are choosing bootstrapping because you don't have any funding available. Here's my post that brings up couple of other points that make bootstrapping a good option, even when funding would be available: Good luck to your new business. You can do it if you really want.

answered May 23 '13 at 03:51
Jaana Kulmala
31 points


All the suggestions are valid. Though I think there's something Eric Ries mention in one of its books that keeps to be essential:

  1. After having potential customers, learn to measure what your product is being able to achieve in terms of usage, logins, money. If you can't measure, you can't manage it. I'm saying that for my own experience in the field;
  2. Learn ways to accelerate your product in the market. There are known techniques to make that in the market. There are several books in the market, with market experience showing how to do that. Please refer to The Intelligent Entrepreneur for some advice, or Eric Ries book - The Lean Startup;
  3. And finally, try to search for real experienced people who have launched their startups recently. Normally, they are very open for helping new startups get in the market.
answered May 23 '13 at 05:59
21 points


  1. Create an 18 month plan to save money and in the meantime get the Start-Up Owner's Manual and begin "Customer Development"
  2. I wish I were in a developing country. You have boundless options because all the IT and physical infrastructure isnt built yet. You can be the pioneer that builds that.

Check out this NPR article for inspiration:

  1. Enjoy the ride! Keep hustling and you're bound to enjoy it.
answered Jun 6 '13 at 08:40
Ankit Kapasi
31 points


Find a problem - something that bugs you or/and the people in your network

Invent a solution - start with an idea storm, and you'll soon come up with twenty ways the problem can become less painful

Tell your story - pick a solution you like, and see if you can get in front of someone who has the problem, to tell them how you are going to make it go away (don't worry you can't deliver - most people are going to throw you out because they don't get it, because they wouldn't want it, because the problem is just way down their list, because...)

Take the learning, and apply it. Repeat.

If you're sufficiently determined and persistent, and willing to discard everything that's not getting through, sooner or later you're going to come across a customer group you can reach, with a problem that they would pay you good money to solve.

That's the moment you're ready to start. It's the first moment you need to ask the question, "bootstrapped or funded?" And trust me, if you've made it to this point, you're going to find a way to access the resources you need to make the work you have done building knowledge and connections turn into a viable business.

Your opportunity isn't defined by your present limitations: you have a goal, so start.

answered Jul 23 '13 at 16:28
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points


Maybe you don't need a lot of money to start, do Lean and start small by validating the problem you might want to solve using some landing page. Then you'll see if the idea if worth developing.

You might also want to check to a presentation of mine about the tools I used to test my idea:

answered May 25 '13 at 16:11
Nico Ekito
111 points


So since you have programming skills, you can develop your own product. You wont need to spend on software development since that is top two highest costs. The other of the top two is marketing and getting the product to the market.

Now, you need a idea. For that you need to look inside. If you are thinking, of getting a idea that will make you super rich, then forget it, get a job and be happy.

If you have a idea, there are 2 ways to go about it.

  1. Build the product take it to market, talk to customers
  2. Talk to customers and figure out what they need and then build the product

I for one, did what very few people do 1. Now most people will give you advice to do 2. But its for you to decide your mistakes in life. Listen to everyone, take notes, think, but Make your own decision.

Create a bunch of advisers you can trust, and people who care about you and your success. Most of them will tell you things that you dont want to hear. And when you get mature enough to listen, understand, think and decide, that is when you have started being a entrepreneur. If you listen, respond, try to convince every point people make with/about you, then you need more time to mature. Wait it out, get a job.

Entrepreneur is about self attitude, self belief, self skills, self passion and self maturity. Learn everyday and move ahead.

These advisers, make sure that you talk to them atleast once a week. Dont loose touch. Trust me, the more you talk the more your idea will mature. May be someone may also give you a idea. I know I got my idea from a friend.

All the best.

answered May 29 '13 at 17:53
137 points
  • Thanks Siddharth! – Ali 10 years ago


You need to find a small project you can complete yourself (or with a partner if you have one) in 1-3 weeks.

Then you need the money for a shared hosting account (approx $5/month) and a domain name (approx $10/year), you setup a web site about your new project and you start "selling" it (that is, getting people to the web site and collecting e-mail addresses, because you didn't build the product yet).

When you are happy with the number and rate of signups you take a vacation or work night and weekends and build the first version of the product.

Now you have a product and a list of potential customers, you start selling and go from there - basically keep working nights and weekends until you can quit your job.

The trick is to start small with a simple product people need, leave the big project that will change the world for your second startup you fund with the money (or reputation) from your first small product.

answered May 19 '13 at 22:31
1,569 points


Before ever getting involved in any business venture, the first thing you want to do is research,Research the marketplace, research competitors, research trends, research the major players, research what is working and what is not working, etc.
Thorough research and knowledge is very important to put you in a position to succeed where many others may fail.

answered Jul 21 '13 at 13:13
Chris Powell
1 point

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