We've been running a bootstrapped startup for 1 year. Our top 15 takeaways

We've been running a bootstrapped startup for 1 year. Our top 15 takeaways

What is the value of this article?

We are young, inexperienced, prone to fail: we’re 2 first time founders. I always prefer to learn from people who are just a few steps ahead of me.

Who is this article for?

If you’re a multi-time entrepreneur then you might not find this article interesting. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own startup then I’d recommend reading as many similar articles as possible.

Our Team

Artem (author of this article):

  • First-time founder

  • Technical with no CS degree

  • 24 years old

  • ~2 years of work experience (data-oriented job)

  • Quit the University after Masters 1 to get a job

  • Full-time since April 2020

  • CEO

Maksym:

  • First-time founder

  • Technical with no CS degree

  • 24 years old

  • ~2 years of work experience (data-oriented job)

  • Full-time since December 2020

  • CTO

Our Product - News API

We provide instant access to news article data for hedge funds, market researchers, and PR software.

In simple words:

  1. we crawl news websites,

  2. detect news article URLs,

  3. extract all possible information (title, published date, author, content, etc.),

  4. index this data

Our main product is News API which allows our clients to find structured news articles by any topic, country, language, website, or keyword.

Example of News API JSON response.

We’re B2B Data-as-a-Service.

What I and my co-founder could achieve in 12 months

  • Monthly Recurring Revenue ~$3,000

  • Both co-founders work full-time

Our top 15 takeaways

All things mentioned are purely personal.

1. Talk to your potential clients

Talk to them even if you do not have a product.

Imagine you have the very best version of what you’re building. Go ahead and see what people say.

One more thing: CLIENTS. Not your friends, or some random people. Yeah, your friends will say “Great idea”. All of them.

What you really want to hear is “I like it. What’s the price? How can I buy it?”

People only vote with their pockets.

More read

2. Do not think you/your product/your team/your approach are any different or unique

We all want to be special. We all want to work for a company that will soon cost millions of dollars. We all want to be the first of our kind.

But, most likely, you, your team, your product is (below) average.

So, if you hear experienced people repeating the same thing to you then you should act.

Do not try to be “Yeah, but we’re…”

3. It’s almost impossible to raise money when you don’t have anything to show

Do not expect investors to come and give you money. It’s a big gamble for you to start raising. Also, raising money is a full-time job!

4. Start pitching investors as soon as possible

Yes, do not expect them to give you money. However, there is a lot of things to do to raise money. You have to be prepared for when you’re ready.

Pitch deck. Pitching. Answering the questions.

Do not spend much time on it. However, I would recommend to do it consistently. It will take months to come up with something consistent. So, you’d better start early.

Also, some investors will tell you why they will not give you money. Iterate, and work on these problems.

5. Start small. Do things that do not scale. Be a consulting company

Believe me or not but the only way to sell your scalable solution to millions of clients is to start by selling it one-by-one. In a non-scalable way.

More read

6. Do not be afraid to charge

Charge for your service/product at a fair price. Yeah, you might lose some clients. But, how will you survive if you cannot get fair pay for your service?

7. It’s a grind. Consistent one

You have to repeat a lot of boring things over and over again.

8. Only those who pay you money have to decide which features to add

Do you think adding this feature is cool? Go ahead, and ask those who pay you.

Listen to what they say, and make a better product.

9. Carefully choose co-founders

We know each other for over 14 years. We knew well what to expect from each other.

10. Help others & Ask others for help

11. Things that no one actually cares about at the beginning

  • Logo
  • Name, website domain
  • Your background

12. Things that everyone cares about

  • Your value proposition

13. What is the definition of a “startup” for you?

Can you give it? Maybe what you want to start is a small business. There’s nothing wrong with it.

14. Do not afraid to take a step back

15. This list misses the other 100 points which we did not figure out yet! So, do not overlay on it

All I’ve written here might be wrong/not applicable to you. But like I said, most likely you’re not different at all.