I’m a Hacker News-style entrepreneur with a family situation that precludes seeking investment or working full time. This has caused me to seek out a wide variety of resources as I learn about entrepreneurship. One of the writers I regularly read Sramana Mitra. The writing in her regular column is usually not that applicable to me; it’s more aimed at macroeconomic-scale Big Entrepreneurship. I read it anyway because it’s inspiring, hopeful writing and although it’s not applicable to my situation now, who knows where I’ll be in 5 or 10 or 20 years.
Having said that, I was very excited to hear about her new book “Bootstrapping: Weapons of Mass Reconstruction”. It’s a book full of interviews with entrepreneurs who have successfully bootstrapped their companies from a kitchen table to millions of dollars of revenue or an acquisition. I like this kind of book because it goes into more detail than a typical blog post or article, and the interview style is more human than the usual business book third-person style. So I went into the book with high hopes, and those high hopes were met (with a caveat).
My favorite interview of the whole book was the first one, was with Greg Gianforte. I’d read Greg’s bootstrapping book Bootstrapping Your Business: Start And Grow a Successful Company With Almost No Money before and heard him talk – he’s an engaging, funny speaker and writer and I’d recommend him to anyone. I also felt a stronger connection to his story because he was more of a software entrepreneur like me (well, like I’d like to be).
The interviews in the rest of the book were every bit as lively and entertaining, but most of the founders were in media, advertising, or content, not specifically software. For someone who was interested in one of these areas, this book is a gold mine of experience and insight. I ended up reading them because the writing and the characters were interesting, but the stories didn’t seem as personally relevant to me.
One more thing, despite the word “Bootstrapping” in the title, most of the companies either self funded or bootstrapped a prototype together enough to get angel or VC investment. So it’s bootstrapping in the sense of product before investment, not strict bootstrapping in the sense of avoiding all investment. Not a problem, just a clarification.
All in all, this book is every bit as good as Founders at Work, albeit with less well known companies and a media/content/advertising focus. It’s a good read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and would be a priceless reference to anyone in those fields.