CoolTech Club: Bootstrapping in the Silicon Valley - Startups with no VC money


January 13,2009


Bootstrapping is a term used to cover different methods for avoiding using the financial resources of external investors. While bootstrapping involves a risk for the founders, the absence of any other stakeholder gives the founders more freedom to develop the company.

With looming financial crisis and total disarray of local Venture Capital, do startups have any sound alternative but just roll over and die quietly?

How about good old , but somehow forgotten, "bootstrapping" strategy ? Thomas Edison , Alexander Bell and Michael Dell didn't spend to much time waiting for "Sand Hill Road" to get up to speed, aren't they? Is it still possible to build successful companies without VC backing in our times?

CoolTech Club presents a panel of three distinguished Club members who have personal experience of building successful Silicon Valley companies with "no VCs money down". They gracefully agreed to share with us their stories, strategies, advantages and pitfalls of bootstrapping, and so on.


  • Yakov Kamen, Relevad CEO and co-founder. Relevad Corporation ( is a semantic keyword analytics company. We’ve created the largest search engine agnostic Keyword Data Center and developed a Universal Platform for deep keyword and unstructured text analysis, and provide a wide spectrum of services optimizing ad placement economics, business security, and decision-making intelligence for search engine operators, ad network aggregators, advertisers, and publishers.
  • Timothy Kay is CTO and co-founder of Boopsie, Inc. (,  which has been in bootstrap mode for the past two years. The company offers a suite of products that make it easy to access large enterprise data sets from mobile phones.  The products are finished and in shipping, and the company is now busy finding companies who need to access data sets from mobile phones.
  • Ron Warshawsky is CTO and founder of DBA InfoPower. DBA InfoPower ( is an innovative software and services company specializing in Enterprise Performance Problem Management. DBA InfoPower solutions help IT find and fix performance problems in business-critical applications, websites and data centers with unprecedented speed, accuracy, precision, and scope.

What They Say About Us

"The wonderful thing about entrepreneurs is that their passion for starting new companies transcends languages and geographic boundaries."

Ron Conway, Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds, early stage investor in Google and PayPal

"Networking is very important for start-ups. The challenge for them is often not money: it is mentoring and finding people who can give good advice from experience."

Esther Dyson, Founder, EDventure Holdings

"This conference is clearly a labor of love for a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about the Eastern European entrepreneurs. From the value-packed educational panels, to the star-studded key note speakers' line up, to an amazing quantity of venture capitalists – this is a not to be missed event for any high tech entrepreneur,"

Richard Guha, President of the Marketing Executives Network and Managing Partner at MaxBrandEquity

"As Stanford MBA students, we were exposed to a lot of VC firms both from the Valley and abroad. It is at Stanford that we met Anna Dvornikova, an absolutely amazing business leader and (by our big luck) our friend, who was the center of the Russian Silicon Valley professional community, and was doing a huge work to connect Russia and the Valley. Anna helped us a lot with kick-starting Wikimart, put us to our first-ever conference, introduced us to most of Russian VCs. And all that happened in a very short time span! It was the beginning of a six-month journey that despite the particularly tough times resulted in an extraordinarily group of investors backing our start-up."

Maxim Faldin and Kamil Kurmakayev,
co-CEOs, Wikimart