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“Sramana Mitra’s Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction is a book for our time because it’s something real out of Silicon Valley. No more stories about legendary VC fundings of startup-to-IPO in six months. In this, the second volume of Entrepreneur Journeys, her focus is on doing more with less, in tune with the times. This book has some fascinating histories of the different paths people take to entrepreneurship, and the difficulties they face. I would only have wished each of the interviews to be longer and deeper, because every story is worth telling.”
– Fast Company
In a world battered by economic crisis, Sramana Mitra believes entrepreneurship is the only sustainable path forward to a healthy economic world order.And core to the success of entrepreneurial ventures today is the invigorating art of bootstrapping.Sramana Mitra--a serial entrepreneur, strategy consultant and Forbes columnist--takes aim at this essential route along the roadmap to startup success with Entrepreneur Journeys, Volume Two:Bootstrapping: Weapon of Mass Reconstruction.
Along with the incisive analysis and commentary that have popularized her blog and Forbes columns, Mitra showcases a dozen successful entrepreneurs and their lessons from the bootstrapping trenches.Overflowing with lively entrepreneurial tangents, theories, and behind-closed-doors-experience, the book rises to the level of economic policy discussion while simultaneously offering practical advice from experienced bootstrappers.Important issues like doing more with less, getting started with little or no capital, and validating the market on the cheap are discussed with the likes of Om Malik of GigaOm and Greg Gianforte of RightNow.
In her characteristic narrative style, Mitra shepherds established and aspiring entrepreneurs through a territory she hopes will be claimed by many more in the years to come.“From my perspective it is clear that small business must be a top priority,” explains Mitra.“Let us hope that in the coming decade the number of small businesses will double, then triple and quadruple.For here is the most powerful engine of economic growth and sustenance.Here is our way back.”
About the Author
Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies, writes a weekly column for Forbes and the business blog Sramana Mitra on Strategy. She has a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.
"Mitra clearly has a passion for small businesses. This useful volume is largely comprised of interviews with the founders of such companies. Her skilled questioning prompts a discussion of the many issues involved in starting and growing a business. The entrepreneurs share wisdom and insight useful to any budding or existing business owner. The reader will be struck by the vision, inventiveness and sheer determination of these entrepreneurial heroes, who operate businesses that are successful but far below the radar. A highly relevant and timely work on entrepreneurship's role in economic reconstruction." - Kirkus Discoveries
Online Roundtables for Entrepreneurs: Sramana Mitra offers a series of free online roundtables to mentor and help entrepreneurs further develop their business ideas. In these roundtables, she also addresses financing strategy for each business.
During each 60-minute online session, entrepreneurs are invited to pitch Sramana their ideas in a three-minute presentation. She reviews the material in real time and provides feedback on each pitch, as well as addresses specific questions from the entrepreneur. Afterward, she takes questions from other participants. Each session is open to 1,000 people but only the first five to sign up have the opportunity to pitch Sramana and discuss their business in an interactive mode.
You can find more information about these webinars, recordings of past roundtables and registration links to upcoming sessions on the Roundtables page of her blog, "Sramana Mitra On Strategy".
"Sramana's work on bootstrapped entrepreneurs is an inspiration in these tough economic times. The solutions to our economic problems ultimately lie with the entrepreneur who brings imagination, resourcefulness and good old-fashioned elbow-grease to tackle old problems in new ways, create new solutions and new industries. It is all too easy to forget this, particularly when we feed on the depressing daily diet of endless bail-outs and hear trillions of dollars being thrown around. A great entrepreneur can do a lot with ten thousand dollars. This book is a good antidote to the depressing mood of these times." - Sridhar Vembu, Bootstrapped Zoho to over $50 million in annual revenue
"In the end, a true entrepreneur will not be denied. What Sramana captures with simple grace are the riveting personal stories of modern day business alchemists, who mix vision, pragmatism and relentless effort to forge creative, new and successful ventures. Her collection of interviews will make for an engaging, educational read, for those in the entrepreneurial space, those considering joining the game and those just plain curious about the formative innovators whose efforts provide outsize social returns of the most concrete and enduring nature." - Don Hutchison, Angel Investor
Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) global, virtual incubator that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond.
She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Sramana was a columnist for Forbes, and currently syndicates to numerous venues including Harvard Business Review and Huffington Post.
As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Having been near the front lines of the dot-com boom (and bust), I remember how much money was being thrown around at ideas that were utterly ridiculous. And if you could get venture capitalists to fund you long enough, you could then shift to an IPO and cash out for big bucks. Those days are gone, and now you have to be much more self-sufficient to get yourself started and maintain your momentum. Sramana Mitra looks at a number of entrepreneurs who have gone the bootstrapping route with great success in her book Entrepreneur Journeys: Bootstrapping: Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction. This is a good source of personal stories and input on how to do it on your own without giving up control of your idea and hard work.
Contents: Prologue Doing More With Less: The Real VCs Of Silicon Valley; Fund Envy; Bootstrapping, Montana Style (Greg Gianforte - Right Now) Getting Started with Little or No Capital: Passion and Leverage (Cree Lawson - Travel Ad Network, Beatrice Tarka - Mobissimo), Barack Obama's Finance Lesson (Om Malik - GigaOM, Rafat Ali - paidContent, J. R. Johnson - Virtual Tourist, Guillaume Cohen - Veodia, Wayne Krause - Hydro Green Energy); Weapon of Mass Reconstruction (Scott Wainner - SysOpt & ResellerRatings, Ramu Yalamanchi - hi5) Validating The Market - On The Cheap: Carts Ahead of Horses (Murli Thirumale - Ocarina, Manoj Saxena - Webify) Resurrecting The Dead: Silicon Lazarus (Lars Dalgaard - SuccessFactors) Epilogue
Mitra structures Entrepreneur Journeys as a series of interviews with people who have started businesses and willingly (or unwillingly) went without massive funding for the first part of their histories. The ranges of personalities are rather astonishing...Read more ›
I just finished reading Entrepeneur Journeys Volume 2. Like the first volume, this book uses an interview style presentation, which may be a put off to some people, but I rather like it. You feel more like you're truly getting the information from the source. A number of interesting insights came to mind while reading:
-Marketing segmenting is more than just race, gender and age -Passion is essential to entrepeneurial success (not exactly new, but yet another reminder) -Niches abound within niches
This last one really struck me in a couple of the interviews. The author never states it outright, but a number of the successful companies found their success by locating niches within niches. I'm going back to my marketing team now to ask, "What is the most valuable 10-20 percent group within our customer base? How do we provide unique value to them? How do we communicate this value?"
I ordered this book for my wife, who is embarking on her own bootstrapping journey to start her own business and raise capital secondarily. What we have found is that the book has some great stories to tell, but that the analysis was disappointing. The biggest reason for this was the clear presence of bias and neo-con views that creep out in the stories. There seemed to be some underlying political assumptions that just didn't jive with us, but again the stories had merit so the book wasn't a total waste.
Sramana Mitra has put together 13 interviews with highly successful entrepreneurs. Her interview style first gives us their background and then traces the struggles and successes of each in bootstrapping their company.
All of the companies have a few things in common. First they are all cutting edge technology. Secondly each entrepreneur at some point in their journey raises money from angel investors or venture capitalist. Since the book is basically interviews with the different entrepreneurs and both Sramana and the entrepreneur speak the same language, there is some information they assume the average reader knows. If you are not familiar with the terms and concepts of raising money from investors, you might find that part of the book a little disappointing. While raising money was an integral part of these businesses, the book is not about tips and techniques for raising money.
It would be easy to dismiss the book because the stories are about leading edge technology and each has raised huge sums of money to fund their venture. But there is no profit in taking that approach.
The value in the book is to "read between the lines", read the stories each person tells and learn the lessons that made each entrepreneur a success. There are some recurring themes in each story. They are recurring because they are basic principles required for success.
Here are some of the more important principles: Make sure there is a market for your product. Do that by talking to prospects. Follow the SDBS model. Sell, Design, Build and Sell. Most failures design, build and then try to sell. Prove the concept before you sink your time and resources into designing and building a product.
This book mirrors my own book "The Expert's Edge" in that it exhorts entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs to fight the good fight and to view themselves (rightly) as the true saviors and sparkplugs of the business world. It will also enlighten many to the fact that oodles of $$$ is not what's required for entrepreneurial success but rather creative spirit and determination. Mitra's book provides the backgroud and motivation to get out there and grow your enterprise. My own book offers a great how-to follow-up so action steps can be taken. Together our shared philosophies can help push business as a whole to new heights. Buy this book!