We started AeroLeads in January 2015 as a side project to our existing product. By April 2015, we tried multiple iterations to find out what can really work for a top of the funnel sales software. Eventually, we came up with the current version of the AeroLeads. By October 2015, we were breaking even and from December 2015 onwards, as a founder, I am paying salary to myself from company profits.
As a single founder of a bootstrapped company, this is the first thing you want. Get profitable and start paying salary to yourself to settle down the nerves. It also gives you cushion and comfort about yourself, about the product and about the company.
For us, this is what we did to become profitable, hopefully other bootstrapped startups find it helpful.
1. Keep team small and do not spend on unnecessary hiring –
We are a company of four people and we will be like this for some more time. I want to make sure that we get the best out of everyone before hiring new people. I also want to make sure we are having fun, “clicking” with each other and enjoying life.
2. Shared Office –
We are based out of Bangalore where the office rental is quite costly. Since we are a small team, we are using a co-working space. There are 4 other startups running from our office and someone else manages the office. This helps in reducing distractions and liabilities apart from saving money.
3. Other than the product, we offer services too –
We sell our prospect generation software at multiple pricing point and do offer prospect & lead generation services too. Often companies sell product and avoid selling add-ons or services as they find it uncool or distracting. Though it is a matter of preference, since our services use our own software and we have an efficient process for it, it works out well for us.
This serves two purposes. First, it will bring immediate cash and second, it will help you to understand the market better.
4. Controlled expenses –
It is always easy to save money than to make money. So we make sure we are not spending money on unnecessary big-ticket items. We all bring our own laptops and use open source software.
5. Build one functioning product with one core feature first, then start doing sales and marketing –
We have made sure that our core product doesn’t have unnecessary features. It does what it is supposed to do and it works very well. If we try to add more features, it may make us lose focus. Way too many startups spend 18 months building a product with way too many features instead of concentrate on sales and marketing. We are still finding the right balance between it but certainly values marketing and sales.