Guest Post: Every business doesn’t begin with millions in cash
About the author: Tej Dhawan is a principal of StartupCity Des Moines, an early stage technology incubator. A technology and startup enthusiast and cheerleader, he currently blogs about various stages of a startup life.
Dhawan actively participates in Central College’s entrepreneurship program, the various central Iowa events supporting entrepreneurship and is currently engaged with multiple startups as well – Pikuzone, a parent managed portal for children to have safe and secure email, which he co-owns with Erin Ginkens and Joseph Vande Kieft and MyDiabetesHome, where he serves as president developing a technology platform for patients of diabetes.
Editor's Note: Originally published on his personal blog, "Tej Dhawan, rebooted," Dhawan has kindly given us permission to republish it here. The post reacts to a recent article by Michael Stacy of Silicon Prairie News that was published in the latest issue of dmJuice.
The creation of TableNabbr, Dhawan says, represented the hard work of Erin Ginkens and the Entrepreneurial Technologies team. Screenshot from dmjuice.desmoinesregister.com.
There is ample news about the idea that popped into an entrepreneur's head in the shower, the demo was created by lunch, VCs lined up to lend money by dinner and acquisition happened in the quarter that followed. Scant attention is shared about those who logged 60 hours a week developing a business while holding down a 40-hour square job, worked for years to build revenue, adjusting the model along the way until finding success in the trenches.
It is interesting to be surrounded by those who have done just that in the Des Moines technology ecosystem. Des Moines’ dmJuice recently published an article about my friend, relative and partner, Erin Ginkens' Entrepreneurial Technologies. The article highlights the company's evolution from a product company to service and now a hybrid. Hard work is reflected remarkably in the creation of TableNabbr, a mobile phone application that helps potential diners find restaurants with open tables in real time.
Similarly, the story of Brian Hemesath, the CEO of Catchwind and President of VolunteerLocal and involved in other endeavors, takes us through a decade of work. Brian’s work has enriched the local technology ecosystem and his helpful presence at Des Moines startup events is inspirational to aspiring startups. If you haven’t had a chance to hear his story, September 21st presents a great opportunity to hear him speak at the BIZ’s luncheon series, aptly titled "Lessons Learned while Bootstrapping Business: The Non-Fundraising Path."
Bootstrapping is a strategy that works when designing a business driven by a need/desire for organic growth, a product that is largely service based with the entrepreneur's expertise in delivering the product, secured by rock solid IP, and/or the unavailability of external money to fuel growth. It rarely works when time to market is paramount and competition is circling your customers and employees.
Whichever strategy you choose — know that resources are available to discuss, quantify, qualify and critique your business model. My local community is filled with events that support bootstrappers, angel funded and VC funded enterprises. Find them, talk to them, share their experience and learn from their mistakes — I know that after 29 years in technology, 18 years in small-business and a year into a sabbatical, I still am.