On BharatPe’s Ashneer Grover, Bootstrapping and Some Notes

BharatPe’s Ashneer has quit the company and he is all over the town sharing how bad the VC ecosystem is. And how great, the bootstrapping world is.

Not here to lead my life as per the media, not going to be a slave to these investors again in my life. Will lead life on my own terms. I am now looking up to people like Turakhias (Bhavin) and Kamath (Nitin) who have the courage to build businesses with 100% ownership. It will take a bit longer to build, I will be in control of what I build and not build it for these people who are opportunistic.

Asheer Grover, Moneycontrol Interview

As somebody who has bootstrapped for many years, sharing a few notes for the benefit of Ashneer and others who are also considering the bootstrapping route.

You can’t afford BMWs when you are bootstrapping

Let’s get this right out of the door. When you are bootstrapping a business, your entire focus is on ensuring healthy working capital (and revenue) numbers.

Spending Throwing money as if you are in a Las Vegas casino is a thing reserved for hyper funded companies.

Not that bootstrappers can’t, but I’ll tell you – they won’t.

Why? Because they have a lot of respect for their hard-earned money. And, they don’t have the time and patience to indulge in many wasteful exercises.

Look at Zerodha, they JUST have 33 engineers (listen to my podcast with Zerodha CTO, Kailash) ! That too non-IIT colleges/freshers.

Can you build a very big company with such a strong focus?

Why take the pain, when the easiest option is to keep raising money, use BMWs to attract talent; and rule the media headlines (plus Twitter echochamber 😎 )!

Your WHY has to be much bigger than what and how.

Aside, have you noticed that most bootstrapped founders do not have chief of staff and similar roles (for e.g. EA/PA). Think about it. Why would they not have it?

PR vs. everything else

Let me very honest here. How many bootstrapped companies are covered by media?

Except Zerodha and Zoho, pretty much none.

Bootstrappers aren’t sexy. They aren’t worth covering by media folks who prefer funded companies (and their PR budget/ award sponsorships). Nothing against media, but this is how the world operates.

So if you are bootstrapping, you need to really let go of your PR angle and work on building the right product/tech. Silently. For a long time. Very very very long time.

The only bootstrapping founder who is taken seriously by media these days is Nithin of Zerodha. Largely because his is a big consumer business in a very high trending market (so, very impactful) and he is literally out-there talking taking an anti positioning on the market, the investment frenzy et al.

100% ownership, but too many bosses.

NextBigWhat team was recently rejected by a big corporate’s team citing that the company hasn’t raised any funding and there are no investors on board – so very difficult for the marketing manager to make an informed decision 🥸

You see, bootsrapping companies have their own challenges. They aren’t taken seriously (the above was just an example) by many. You have 100% ownership, but too many bosses (customers, perceptions, a funded competitor who can outprice you etc).

I know the same applies to funded ones who have VC bosses, but mind you – VCs are invested in the company, so in a way, they aren’t that much of a dangerous threat as opposed to a price-hungry customer who can just cut the chord by switching to your well-funded competition’s product because they are offering it for cheap.

So technically, bootstrapping in today’s world is a dead(wo)man’s zone.

Tread, if you will. But be prepared for a long haul. No guarantee of any instant gratification. Nothing.

Ofcourse, you are exceptional. You have a strong net worth and I am sure that will help you scale rapidly in your next venture, but the first and the only thing bootstrappers live by is this 👇

Money solves only one problem. That is, of money.

All the best.
– Ashish Sinha

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