bootstrappingI‘ve worked with four startups over the past four years: Weblogs, Inc. as a freelance writer, Netscape (which was like running a startup inside a large company) where I was Managing Editor and then Director, Mahalo where I was Editorial Director for 18 months (a key member of the management team, involved in all the board meetings, and much of the early stages planning; also had over 40 people working for me), and Crowd Fusion, where I am currently Director of Content Marketing. During the three years I was working solidly for Jason Calacanis, he kept telling me that I was being educated in the Jason Calacanis School of Business Administration. I know many of the graduates of that school and many of them are running their own successful businesses now. I’m not entirely sure if Jason considers me a graduate or a drop-out of the school, since I ended up leaving Mahalo due to my wife and I not enjoying living in LA and missing New York. I’m sure once I have a successful venture of my own, he will publicly talk about me as a successful graduate. No matter what he thinks, I learned quite a lot from my time working for him, I’m grateful for the experience, and I definitely feel as if I did earn a degree.

At Crowd Fusion, I’m getting to attend the Brian Alvey School of Business Administration for a change, which makes for a pretty interesting balance of knowledge and skills. I’ve now been learning from both of the minds behind Weblogs, Inc., first when I was freelancing for the company, then at AOL when I was reporting directly to Jason and working with Brian, then working separately for both of them at their post-AOL startups. I’m very fortunate to have these experiences, and I’ve learned a lot about building companies, running businesses, fast iteration of features, balancing the needs of users with the needs of a growing business and with the needs of employees, creating social networks, and growing online communities.

As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I have an idea. It’s not the only idea that I have, but I think this idea has legs, the timing is right to build something, and I have a structure planned out for how I think it could develop. However, I have virtually no money to throw at building this right now, so I must discover a way to bootstrap it together. In order to do that, I’m going to be very transparent about this process on this blog and I’ve started a new category called simply “Startup,” of which this post is the first entry. I will be writing about my experiences as transparently as possible without giving away the keys to my idea, what steps I’m taking, and how things are going along the way, as well as listing interesting resources I find along the way for others who are bootstrapping or considering bootstrapping their own online ventures.

Help wanted

I need some people with free time to help me build this bootstrapped operation. If you’re looking for a full time job, none of these positions are it. As I mentioned, I have virtually no money right now to pay, we’re bootstrapping this, and if we can successfully produce something, at that point things may change and this may lead to something more substantial. If you fit any of the following roles and would be interested in talking to me about what I’m working on then please email me (ck at sampletheweb dot com; subject line: Starting up):

  • Developer—LAMP / PHP / AJAX / Python , etc. I already have one guy (Blaine Garrett, who I had the pleasure of working with at Netscape back in 2006) working with me, but I’ll probably need others not long from now, so reach out if you’re a ninja. Also, I know several other businesses that are currently looking for skilled individuals, so if you’re not a good fit for my projects, I may be able to pass you along to others.
  • Designer—In a few weeks, I’ll need someone who is able to take my wireframes and descriptions of the product and design that site. If all you do is Photoshop mockups of sites you are not qualified for this. I need someone who can design, work in code, and plug his/her design into the code of the functional, living site. Again, if you’re not a good fit for my projects, I may be able to pass you along to others who I know are currently looking for designers.
  • Facebook Developer—I need a ninja in customizing Facebook pages and building apps that work with Facebook and are capable of communicating between Facebook and a separate website.
  • Twitter Developer—This is really a side thing, but Ryan and I built Twitemperature in a weekend and haven’t been able to devote any time to it, even though we have several fun ideas of how we could pimp it out. If you want to help with that, let me know.
  • Investor—I’d rather build something that is functional before I begin thinking about investors, but if you know me, you follow my blog, and you like what I’ve brought to the table for various companies in the past, I’m always open to talking about possibilities.

Also, as I’ve mentioned a few times in this post already, I’m not swimming in extra money right now, so if any of the above sounds like the kind of experience you could use consulting with your current business, please feel free to reach out and contact me, as I’d love to have some consulting work right now with businesses that might be in need of my experience.

[Modified version of Creative Commons image The Royal Oak bootstrap meet by LoopZilla]

2 thoughts on “Starting up: Bootstrap mode

  1. I totally have a full-time job, but I can write you comedy sketches on spec.

    What…you don’t have a need for that?

    Okay, in that case, I know a guy who makes killer oatmeal….

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