How to build a successful startup in India while being bootstrapped

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Bootstrapping is a fairly unpopular model in the Indian startup ecosystem where currently the focus appears to be on funding, then scaling, then some more funding and so on. Under the circumstances, bootstrapping is a hard-sell because some might argue that you’ll have lesser risks you can afford, slower scalability among other things. And they might just be right, Bootstrapping is hard. But in my personal experience, that is the upside of doing it.

Without undermining the efforts of the unicorns of the Indian ecosystem built on VC money, it is worth noting that bootstrapping offers you two things that venture capital mostly doesn’t — complete control and space for creativity.

Bootstrapping allows no Plan B and forces you to focus on your customers, build a solid product, and make the company revenue efficient despite the lower capital.

To start off, you will need to build a great team who are willing to work on a lower pay to invest on your vision for the company. Because a good team will be your biggest expense as well as your best asset. Be careful in putting together the team, as there will be some dark times. Once you have a team you can trust, you are ready to go.

Focus on Customers

When you have your mind set on building a strong bootstrapped company, it hardly occurs to you on how you get to funding. You are forced to build your product with entire focus on your customers, because that is where your funding is.

Build a Strong Product

The lack of big marketing budgets mean that you cannot afford to make TVCs and newspaper ads to persuade customers to use your product. So in order to complete with competitors that do have those budgets, you’ll need a solid product that markets itself with some clever growth hacking.

Crack Partnerships

When you are bootstrapped, you can use all the PR and coverage you can get. But, spending money on advertising may be ill advised in the initial stages. What you can do however, is work hard on striking mutually beneficial deals with other startups. Other ways to get noticed are by participating in competitions, contests and other social events.

Be Frugal

Above all else, frugality is essential in sustaining a profitable bootstrapped company. Avoiding unnecessary expenses and spending only when there’s added value for your customers and employees is what your budget should be focused on. Frugality still continues to have a place in Amazon’s 14 leadership principles and it should find a place in yours as well. It sure found a place at GrabOn.

 

Ashok Reddy is a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of GrabOn, India’s top coupling portal.

This post originally appeared here .

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