Mario Cardinal

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" – Marcel Proust

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Three years later, what did I learn about bootstrapping

Bootstrap is a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An individual is said to be bootstrapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from the operating revenues of the new company.

The untold story behind many bootstrapping is this. You can hardly fund your startup from customer revenues but, instead, from your personal finances. The founders come to the table with more time, more energy and all their savings. In my case, with limited savings, over the last three years, I have generated the cash flow from the part-time consulting services I do on the side.

Bootstrapping using part-time consulting is a real challenge on your personal finance (not to mention energy and health). In general, little by little, you exhaust all your savings. After three years, I am in this situation right now. I need to revitalize my personal savings.

Fortunately, as a DevOps expert it was easy to find a full-time contract. For the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ), I will lead a major reorganization of the software release process and testing pipelines. Billing more hours will allow me to put aside money and rebuild my savings.

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For my first startups, to support the initial costs before being profitable, I was looking for external funding, mainly venture capital. I do not take this path anymore. When I started my consulting firm in 2003,  I bootstrapped to finance my venture with success. My partner Erik and I, we intent to do the same with Slingboards Lab.

Bootstrapping refers to a self-sustaining process, where entrepreneur proceeds without external help or capital. In our case, we will fund the development of Slingboards Lab through internal cash flow (and we are very cautious with our expenses). For now, the cash flow come from consulting services we do on the side. Obviously, we do not accept full-time contracts, part-time only. Bootstrapping is a real challenge. In general, since we have two jobs, we work more than 60 hours per week. In addition, you need a good network to obtain contracts.

Currently, I am looking for a part-time contract. If you are looking for an agile coach endowed with a strong expertise in architecture, I’m your man.

Another source of revenue that helps fund my startup are training. On 22 May, I will provide training in Quebec City entitled “TEAM FOUNDATION TOUR: Maitriser l’agilitĂ© avec l’outillage Microsoft ” This training (in french) provides an edge in the adoption of agile practices (Scrum) with Microsoft Team Foundation Server.

TFS2012Here is the web page announcing the event: