3 Ways Bootstrapping Strengthens Your Startup: Advice from GoPro

"Maybe you can’t grow as quickly as you’d like to, but [...] you only have yourself to answer to." —Nick Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro

In 2002, on a surfing trip to Australia, a simple thought popped into Nick Woodman's head: wouldn’t it be great to have a camera that could capture what it was like to ride a barrel wave? The idea latched on and wouldn't let go. Woodman scrounged up $265,000 to develop a wrist-strap camera, borrowing from his parents and tapping his savings. He took his early products to trade shows, growing his business slowly until the company started to generate its own revenue. It wasn’t until 2011 that Woodman accepted $88 million in venture capital for his company, now called GoPro.

A fervent proponent of bootstrapping, Woodman held out as long as he could to take on outside funding for three reasons: 

#1: You can follow your gut without compromise. Case in point: as soon as they could, the GoPro team bought a race car. It’s the kind of purchase investors would have balked at, given the young company’s sparse resources. But Woodman maintains it was one of the best decisions they could have made — taking the camera off the wrist strap and mounting it to anything. Without that freedom, GoPro might still be retailing at local surf shops, instead of every REI and Best Buy nationwide.

#2: You’re forced to make purposeful & thoughtful decisions. Perhaps GoPro didn’t grow as fast as it could have with outside funding, but Woodman insists that’s a good thing. He says it forced GoPro to take it slow and really get to know their market inside and out, instead of rushing into launching a product prematurely in order to appease anxious investors. That intimate knowledge of their audience has certainly paid off — GoPro's passionate customers are true brand advocates, generating pulse-pounding extreme sports videos that often turn into priceless viral marketing campaigns.

#3: You can be picky when choosing your investors. Woodman claims one of the biggest benefits of bootstrapping is the financial freedom to choose your business partners carefully. Since you're generating profits, you can afford to create partnerships with people whose connections and experience will help with business strategy — people who share your vision — instead of being forced to partner with whoever is cutting you the biggest check. After all, money can always run out, but good partnerships and business strategy are the key to sustainable growth.

Bootstrapping for better business

What do you think about the bootstrapping approach? Obviously, we’re big fans

Getting funded is only the first step to a successful business: check out these 25 SaaS Tools to Run Your Startup for the apps you’ll need to outsmart the competition. 

Related Reads: How 5 Famous Startups Got Funding 7 Ways to Fund Your Startup (Infographic) Top 10 Reasons Startups Fail (Infographic)

Sources: Techcrunch.com; Inc.com; Forbes.com

Top image credits: Photo by jmjvicente on Freepik. Some rights reserved. Photo edited for use.

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