Bootstrapping The Subversive Big Idea

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Make sure that you build in adequate time for market validation if you are bootstrapping. By Yan Heim (Co-Founder & CEO, Froomz)

How far can passion take you without the fuel of money? Technology has driven down the start up costs, social media also offers extremely cost effective marketing channel.

Why the need for external funding for an Internet startup? To answer this question, you will need to understand the nature of your product/service.

First, what is the big idea? I found that Danielle Fong’s Trade Trade Secrets summed up the two kinds of revolutionary ideas in a very elegant way: “The explosive and the subversive” -

“The explosive ideas seem to spread like wildfire, the subversive are perhaps more truly revolutionary. They can offer tremendous, untapped advantages to those who can realize their products, but in their development they require great effort, intellectual rigor, and dedication.”

This explains the viral effect of Facebook and Google, as well as why OpenTable considers the traditional pen-and-paper reservation book as its fiercest competitor, years after its domination in online reservation for restaurants.

What’s our big idea? Froomz intends to disrupt the industry by democratizing the event planning process and automating something that has been done manually for centuries. Froomz is a subversive idea.

The biggest challenge is human psychology, building trust and getting momentum in a new market. Investors want market validation before they invest in companies in this category, especially if the founders are first time entrepreneurs. Make sure that you build in adequate time for market validation if you are bootstrapping a company.

Boostrapping means more than being willing to live off instant ramen and sleeping on a shared apartment floor for six months. It requires strategic planning, outside the box thinking, financial discipline and prioritization that optimize the use of limited resources.

It also includes:

  • Recruiting and working with talent that can’t live on just sweat equity. It’s about how to continuously motivate a team without imminent financial reward. Many times you hear about the importance of finding the co-founder in a startup company. While that is very true, it is equally if not more important and perhaps more challenging to find the number 1 to 10 employees.
  • Rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever it takes to get things going. It’s about targeted PR, guerilla marketing, building strategic partnerships where you can quickly scale and relentlessly exploring creativity in areas that typically require significant capital outlay.
  • Completely open communication with your team, keeping an open mind and rapidly implementing improvements into your product/processes.

How do you recruit, motivate and retain the top employees while you are deep in the trench? I found it important to align the company’s vision with individual’s long term goals and passions. It has done wonders in building an exceptional team that can execute.

Did I say none of this could happen without a team that knows WHAT your vision is and possesses the HOW to deliver it. I’m simply blessed to that end.

Understanding the subversive nature of Froomz, I’ve been stubborn about keeping the organic growth and not taking shortcuts despite the lack of viral exponential growth that every startup dreams of. I’m obsessed about reading every single listing on the site and emailing our venue customers if the descriptions of their pricing packages are not clear to an end user. I’m obsessed about building the most flexible data engine and yet with a simple user interface.

And finally, I’d love to hear your ideas on how else we can make Froomz a better community.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr. About the guest blogger: Yan Heim is the Co-Founder and CEO of Froomz, an online venue marketplace that enables instant price quotes and booking for meeting and event spaces. Formerly, Yan served as the Co-Founder and CEO of Beijing MITEC Technology, and managed global contract negotiations for a telecom giant. Besides Froomz, her pride and joy are her two lovely daughters. Follow her on Twitter at @yanheim.