Bootstrapping, or funding your own company, has long been the first route many founders take when they set out on their entrepreneurial journey. But it’s not a decision that they have any say in. Often, sources of capital only flow to those with the networks and the opportunity to get warm introductions to investors, so for most of history, bootstrapping has been what has fueled many businesses started by people without access to those networks.
But of late, investors across the board have gotten much pickier about who and what they invest in, which has sort of evened out the played field. Network or no, startup founders are increasingly having to figure out sources of financing that’s not venture capital.
In turn, this difficult climate has helped diminish the stigma of bootstrapping, and companies that were once considered to be lesser than their venture-backed counterparts are no longer viewed as such. Indeed, figuring out your own financing is a skill that’s prized now much more than it has been in recent years.
Erica Jain, the founder of Healthie, and Hussein Yahfoufi, of Arta Finance, talked about the newfound attention on bootstrapping at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 and shared advice on the best ways companies can go about doing so.
“Bootstrapping isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing [endeavor],” Jain said. “It’s about thinking through the long term and being in control about how you think about the capital journey of your business.”