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Series: Bootstrapping your tech startup to success – Part IV: Legendary bootstrapping success stories

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Welcome to our latest entrepreneurial series. This one covers bootstrapping, with tips and advice on the best way to get your business moving with minimal funds. If you missed our first three you can catch up anytime by visiting our blog here.

Last time we looked at 10 tips to successfully bootstrap your business. Now we’re going to look at some legendary bootstrapping success stories and what you can learn from them. While many of them went on to later accept investment, they all started out the same way – bootstrapping.

Let’s dive in:

  1. Go Pro: From skiing to surfing to motor racing, chances are if you watch sports of any kind, at some point you’re watching footage captured by a Go Pro camera. In their early years, the company took a bootstrap approach to retain control over their company. Today, they’re valued at USD 3bn.
  2. Mailchimp: When it comes to sending out email newsletters, Mailchimp is the name that comes to mind for many. Despite its size today, the founders kept their regular jobs for the first seven years of the company’s existence. It’s currently valued at USD 4bn.
  3. Tough Mudder: With no venture capital, the two founders initially put in their own money (around USD 10k each) to start a company that today can boast over two million participants in their various obstacle course/endurance races. They now boast an annual revenue of USD 75m.
  4. Craigslist: Starting out as an email newsletter in 1995, the classified ad site was a side project for its founder even after it hit the one million page-views-per-month metric. It was only in 2004 when he took external investment. It’s currently valued at around USD 3bn.
  5. Github: Starting out as a side project, this IT service management company was initially funded by the founders themselves. Taking this time to really understand the specific market they were entering helped them make smart decisions with their money. It was bought by Microsoft for USD 7.5bn.
  6. Kayako: This Software as a Service (SaaS) startup produces help desk and customer service software. The founder started work on the company when he was still a teenager – and today, with hundreds of thousands of customers, has still not taken external investment.
  7. BigCommerce: Another Software as a Service (SaaS) startup, but this one producing an e-commerce platform. Early on, they managed to grow to 10,000 paying customers without taking money from external investors. It’s currently valued at USD 1.3bn.
This wraps up our fourth and final bootstrapping series mailer. We hope you have found them useful in deciding how to move your startup to the next level!