Everyday you read about startups raising millions to billions of dollars from investors. You may ask, are there entrepreneurs out there that started with little capital and yet profitable? The answer is resoundingly, Yes. Every startup has its own unique story. The point is, you do not need Silicon Valley connections or millions of dollars from investors to build a profitable startup. It all starts with identifying customer needs and pain points and coming up with solutions to address these needs.
Today, we are going to share with you two profitable bootstrapped startups that have never taken funding from investors and with patience, right focus, hard work and perseverance they became successful. By the way, we are not against startups seeking funding from venture capitalists. In fact, some unicorn and enterprise startups could not exist without them. However, the goal of this article is to encourage entrepreneurs and founders who want to bootstrap their business from the ground up but lack the courage to do so. We hope some of the lessons learned from these startups will help you as you embark on your bootstrapping journey.
Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM) generates $70,000 in monthly
YAMM is a Chrome email add-on an email marketing and email personalization tool that allows you to create email campaigns with Gmail and Google Sheets. The tool is a brainchild of Romain Vialard, a self-taught programmer from Paris, France. Each day, over 1.5 million emails are sent through YAMM. With YAMM, you can create email campaigns with Gmail and Google Sheets, personalize & track each email sent. Yet Another Mail Merge is easy to use it. In a couple of clicks, anyone can send bulk emails to a mailing list without any coding knowledge.
Currently, YAMM website attracts over 100,000 monthly users and generates $70,000 in monthly revenue — all through organic growth methods. You can send 50 emails / day for free or purchase a license ($24) or use referral program to get more quota. You can download the YAMM add-on from Google webstore.
Kinsta – Went from $0 to 7-figures in revenue by providing premium WordPress hosting to businesses
Kinsta is a premium hosting platform optimized specifically for WordPress. The startup was founded by Mark Gavalda, Peter Sziraki, Tom Zsomborgia and Anita Dunai. Kinsta is a 100% bootstrapped company. “When we decided to give Kinsta a try back in 2013 we didn’t have any money in the bank, just what was in our pockets,” the startup said in a blog post in its site. It all started back in 2013 when they were providing web development and online marketing services for small and medium-sized businesses. It was fine but wasn’t fun and most importantly they discovered that business model wasn’t scalable. They had to find new clients each month to maintain the revenue, but due to the limited resources, they couldn’t start more projects which were required for growth. So they had to pivot. Since the startup was founded, many VCs reached out (and keep reaching out) to them for a potential partnership. But they made a decision in the first few years that they wanted to own 100% of their business. The journey was not all that smooth. They face some obstacles along the way, but sacrifice and hard work, they were able to overcome. Tamaz said:
What I can tell you is that we never ever imagined how hard it would be, how many issues we would face on a weekly or monthly basis, and how much sacrifice would be needed to make it work.
Kinsta shared some of the lessons they learned along the way. Below are the most important lessons they learned bootstrapping Kinsta from a startup into a business.
- Build a Brand From Day One
- Getting Your First 100 Customers Is the Hardest Journey of Your Life
- Find the Best Talent Globally (and Even Save Some Money)
- Build MVP, Launch and Market Early
- Follow the “Hire Slow Fire Fast” Principle
- Know Your Numbers and Focus on Profitability
- “I Can’t Solve This” Is Not an Option
- It’s Not a 9 to 5 Job. Prepare to Work Crazy Hours
- Dedicate All Your Available Time to Your Business
- Invest Heavily In Content Marketing and SEO
- Sit Down And Get Things Done. Focus on Important Things
- Your Weakness Can be Your Biggest Opportunity – Adapt and Move Fast
- Network. Make Friends. Help Others. And Hustle.
- Automate, Automate, And Automate Some More
- Shiny Headlines Don’t Reflect The Reality
- Get a Hobby. Seriously.
What Would We Do Differently?
Below is Tom’s answer.
I’d only mention one thing. We should have launched our affiliate program way sooner. Having a referral program could have a huge impact on your growth. Our program was in beta over the past year and was invite-only. We were working closely with top bloggers to gather as much feedback as possible.
Today Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting provider designed for enterprise and others that receive significant traffic. We are the first managed WordPress host to be exclusively powered by Google Cloud and their Kubernetes container management system. We believe that constant availability and an outstanding user experience are a must; we always utilize the latest software and cutting-edge technology to power our infrastructure. Kinsta team is scattered across the globe in places such as London, Los Angeles, Budapest, and Berlin. We’re looking for talented and competent developers to join our awesome team. If you’re willing to learn a bunch of exciting new technologies at an innovative growing tech company, then please get in touch!