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OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN » Blog Archive Plan B for Fund Raising

OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN » Blog Archive Plan B for Fund Raising

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Step 1: You dig, scratch, and claw yourself to $100,000 of funds from your friends and family. Maybe you work as a YCombinator company. You take no salary. You live with your parents, and you keep your day job at Microsoft. You hope your spouse doesn’t get laid off. You have no office, but work virtually and meet your co-founders at Starbucks if you have to. Everything you use is Open Source or shareware.
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Step 2: Rather than trying to boil the ocean (”the mobile sector”), you boil a tea kettle. Rather than paying to attend high-end conferences, you hang out in the lobbies of the hotels where the events are and meet the same people for free. Rather than hiring a PR firm, you suck up to bloggers and hope they cover your product. Rather than buying booth space, you get on Twitter and use it to gain a reputation for your product.
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Step 3: You’re late with your product too (because everyone is late), but you’re not burning $250,000/month, and you don’t have to tell increasingly greater lies at monthly board meetings. Finally, you release your prototype. TechCrunch covers your release because you wrote Mike Arrington a compelling one-paragraph message that you sent on a Friday afternoon because you know he reads email on weekends.
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Step 4: This is where the miracle occurs–lo and behold, people like your product. (Truly, miracles have to occur whether you’re bootstrapping or venture-capital funded. It’s just that if you’re bootstrapping, there’s more time for the miracle to happen, and a smaller miracle suffices.) Month to month, you’re showing 10-15% growth, and monetization, praise God, has started.
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Step 5: Now you have options. First, you can contact venture capitalists with a company that’s already shipping to raise capital to expand your business. This is a very different discussion than raising capital to build a product. Second, you can continue to bootstrap and grow by using your cash flow. Three, you can pick up the phone and agree to meet with Google, Yahoo!, Fox Interactive, or any other company that has noticed you.

[From: OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN » Blog Archive Plan B for Fund Raising]

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