ArticleThis is BOOTSTRAPPED — 3 Strategies to Build Your Startup Without Funding

This is BOOTSTRAPPED — 3 Strategies to Build Your Startup Without Funding

Most startups launch with $0 in funding, but no one ever really explains how the hell they do it. We keep saying, "They bootstrapped it," as if that explains anything other than "They didn't take on investors." What the heck does that even mean? What it is intended to mean is that we find creative ways to compensate people and buy things that don't involve using cash in the bank.

We can't possibly cover every use case of how startups find resources for $0, but let's take a look at the most popular categories that people run around looking for money for and see how we make it work.

Paying for People

Figuring out how to compensate people is where we're often stuck first. Most of us are familiar with paying folks with equity, but that's not th...

ArticleThe Ridiculous Spectrum of Investor Feedback

The Ridiculous Spectrum of Investor Feedback

How do you know if the advice you just got from an investor on your fundraise was any good?

(Spoiler: it's probably terrible advice, and you're about to waste a lot of time following it.)

We review thousands of pitch decks at, and as part of that process, we hear countless tales of Founders having gotten "really strong advice" from an investor they talked with about their deal. They get super hung up on changing everything to accommodate this feedback.

My question is always, "Who was the investor, and what were their qualifications to give that advice?"

Whenever I ask, the Founder says "Well... they are an INVESTOR!" as if claiming that title is tantamount to irrefutable knowledge. Look, I invest in the stock market, but that d...

Article$10K Per Month isn't Just Revenue — It's Life Support

$10K Per Month isn't Just Revenue — It's Life Support

The first $10k of recurring revenue in any startup isn't just "revenue" — it's the difference between living and dying as a startup.

For startups, the best shot we have at living to see a big outcome is not dying along the way. While startups are often focused on "scaling to millions," what they often forget is that long before then it's just about keeping the lights on.

Whenever I'm building a new startup, my first and only focus is, "How do we get to 'life support' revenue so we can survive long enough to figure the rest out?" Having been through this startup phase countless times, I look back and realize that the startups that had the most success were those that were able to weather the (many) downtimes along the way.

Why $10k?


ArticleWhy do VC's Keep Giving Failed Founders Money?

Why do VC's Keep Giving Failed Founders Money?

Failed Founders are some of the best investments because they understand precisely how hard it is to build a startup, and most importantly, are willing to do it again.

Yes, Founders fail. Sometimes, they fail in spectacular fashion (which is harder than it looks), but they do indeed fail. We seem to understand that part well, but what tends to confound many of us is why those same failed Founders can continue to raise more money from investors.

Haven't investors learned their lesson? Don't they understand that the last time they gave that Founder money, they took a monumental loss? Why, with so much evidence that the Founder has practically set their money on fire, would they even think about giving them more?

Well, friends, it turns out t...

ArticleIf It Makes Money, It Makes Sense

If It Makes Money, It Makes Sense

The only product that makes sense right now is the one that makes dollars.

We all want to believe that in the formative days of a startup, all we should be building is the exact product vision in our heads. We should be turning a blind eye to anything that doesn't directly contribute toward that vision. Everything else is a distraction... right?

While that does sound wonderful, it's not only rare, it's also somewhat delusional. The reality is most startups (who aren't funded) need to focus on building stuff that makes money, regardless of whether it's directly contributing to the product vision. And guess what? Sometimes that winds up being the best product investment we can make.

Money = Runway

Let's start with the obvious — we need to get...

ArticleThe Hidden Treasure of Failed Startups

The Hidden Treasure of Failed Startups

There is a ton of hidden treasure in failed startups — you just have to know how to look for it, and ultimately, how to capture it.

After my first (not last) venture-funded startup tanked, everyone pretty much ran for the hills. Investors bailed, the team got other jobs, and customers found better solutions. But I kept thinking "We just spent a ton of money to build all of this, can't I capture this value back?"

Then it occurred to me — the same thing is happening for countless other failed startups. All of the assets that they spent millions to build just get buried. Everyone tries to make a last-ditch effort to sell them off, but in most cases, it never works and they just evaporate.

But what if we were the ones looking to dig up that bur...

ArticleMy Competitor Got Funded — Am I Screwed?

My Competitor Got Funded — Am I Screwed?

TL;DR: "Oh Sh*t!! My competitor just raised a bunch of funding to do exactly what we're doing. We're done for, right? How can we possibly compete with someone who now has the resources to do all of the things we wished we could do?"

Yes, a competitor just raised some funding. No, it probably doesn't matter.

"Wait, what? How could my competitor raising money be anything but my own personal Armageddon?"

Well, it turns out that when the pixie dust settles after those big announcements, our competitors often have a whole new bag of problems to deal with that we don't. We need to look past the upside of that new capital to understand how most funded startups actually sink themselves with an anchor of funding.

All Fat and Bloated

The very first t...

ArticleWhy Having Zero Experience is a Huge Asset

Why Having Zero Experience is a Huge Asset

Sometimes our greatest liability is our own experience.

We often look up to executives who have incredible experience in their fields, rightfully so, as these "Gods of Wisdom." We assume their years of hard-earned experience allow them to make forecasts and decisions that the rest of us would just be guessing at.

But what if that same experience worked against them? What if their pattern recognition actually created a dangerous bias that prevented them from innovating on past success?

Founders are pattern-breaking machines by definition. Our whole DNA is based on upending the patterns of the past and creating new products to replace them. So what if the least experienced Founders were the greatest assets of innovation?

Our Bias of Experienc...

ArticleHow About a Startup that Just Makes Money?

How About a Startup that Just Makes Money?

Here's a crazy idea — what about a startup that just makes money?

I know, I know — crazy talk! But it turns out that while 1% of the startup world is busy chasing venture capital and trying to create outsized returns, 99% of the rest of businesses are just trying to build a business that consistently turns a profit.

"How dare you question the wisdom of VC!" — echoes the startup world.

But seriously, it turns out even grizzled veterans of the startup world, especially those who have raised venture capital before, are getting really excited about building companies that guarantee a profit versus potentially generating an exit.

What Happened?

It's a confluence of factors, really. When the Nuclear Winter of Funding hit in 2022 and beyond, an aw...

ArticleHow to Recruit a Rockstar Advisor

How to Recruit a Rockstar Advisor

When I was in high school, there was a saying that "No one ever asks the pretty girl to Prom," which implied that everyone assumes they aren't good enough to make the ask, so no one asks.

Now, no one asked me to Prom in High School, so I've clearly assumed it's because I was so damn pretty, but that's another topic for another day. What I have learned when it comes to recruiting rockstar Advisors is that most people never get their top draft picks because they simply never ask.

Here's a fun fact — most of the Advisors you have in mind unless they are Elon Musk or Sarah Blakely, are probably going to say "yes." Seriously. It's way easier to get Advisors on our Boards, and as Founders, we're typically the only ones stopping ourselves!

Why Wou...

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