I recently did a Google search on “bootstrapping” in an effort to better understand the history behind and the etymology of the verb “to bootstrap”. I’m a grammar nerd, so, um, yeah, I speak in terms of nouns and verbs on occasion. 🙂 According to Wikipedia, which, I’ll admit, isn’t necessarily the most academic of sources, the term originated in the 19th century and was linked to the idea of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. So, in essence, it’s doing it alone, without any outside support. Interesting…sounds about right!
When Malini and I launched 2Lokas several months ago, we knew that we’d need to quickly transform into professional bootstrappers. We had capital of our own to invest, but it was limited. As is so often the case when you’re starting something from scratch. But, since we’re not really pursuing a traditional or conventional concept, seeking out traditional and conventional financing opportunities was never, and may never be, an option. And, we’re okay with that. Although, that does mean we’ve needed to be flexible and continually identify creative solutions that are cost-effective, but that don’t compromise our end goals and core values in the process.
In the midst of my Google search, I also came across an article by Andrew Gazdecki on Gigaom that addresses the benefits of bootstrapping. He states that, in some cases, it’s actually beneficial to go it alone rather than look for those investment opportunities in the form of the ever-appealing combinators and accelerators that you hear so much about in the start-up world. Why? Well, if your funds are limited, you’re more likely to focus your energy and efforts on your customers, the end-users of your product and often your harshest critic. Or your greatest supporter!
This really resonated with me since Malini and I are dedicated to ensuring that our first book – and the books thereafter – not only sells, but that it encourages that important dialogue about culture and diversity between parents and their children. And, I know we’ve mentioned this before, but we’re so so SO very appreciative of the support we’ve received from our blog followers, and potential customers, in the form of advice, guidance, guffaws, etc. You’re our audience and we are and will always be forever grateful. So, in a sense, our business goals are two-fold (or five-fold?), which means the pressure to deliver and to give back to those who’ve supported this journey is double. The fun! Indeed.
He also notes that bootstrapping forces you to be creative, to better understand your limits, and to be more efficient. I couldn’t agree more. One of our main challenges has been finding a way to print board books with such a limited budget. We discussed this in our previous post. Because there are so few board book printers in the United States, the ones that do exist are costly. And often require huge orders as a result. Cheers to the wonders of supply and demand! I knew all those econ classes would come in handy. This has basically meant that we’ve needed to do some serious digging, digging that sometimes seems endlessly frustrating, and seek out innovative and outside-of-the-box solutions that are financially viable and profit-generating, and that will allow us to head in the most appropriate creative direction.
This is all to say that we’re trying to embrace our bootsrapping tendencies. It’s hard, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. The day we set up our bank account and transferred what seemed to be a substantial chunk of money from our personal accounts into the 2Lokas joint account was exciting. And crazy frightening! But, we were willing to take the risk – financially and otherwise; we had and continue to have full faith in the concept.
Of course, we also need to be honest with ourselves. We realize we may not be able to fund the entire project on our own. Especially if we’re going to make this a sustainable endeavor and offer the highest quality products. So, all of this embracing doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t look into alternative financing options, like crowdfunding. Options that will still likely require us to be creative and efficient. Perhaps even more so. As we near the end of our book development and sift through the various publishing and printing quotes we’ve received, it’s becoming pretty clear that printing board books is not going to be cheap. Not that we expected it to be, ha. 🙂
Anyway, for the time being, however, we will continue to pull ourselves up by those bootstraps, especially now that fall has arrived. It’s boot season!
On that note, keep scribbling.