20 September 2005

Bootstrapping Emphasized

If bootstrapping, as The Jenius suggested and presented in His previous post, is so great, why don’t more people start projects that way?

Because it takes a great deal of intelligence, creativity and courage to do what’s right.

Is The Jenius saying that going the VC route, or—bletch—the government handout route, wrong?

Yes. It is wrong.

At one time, the government funding route was not a handout, riddled with political cronyism and smelly of corruption. It was essentially a business deal, with one side contracting for services and the other agreeing to a repayment method. That was long ago, back when Puerto Rico was being developed under—ironically—“Operation Bootstrap.”

Now the government funding process is more akin to slipping some bills onto a whore’s nightstand, a slimy, wink-strewn, give-and-take more than an actual business deal. But like prostitution, the government will always find Johns and Janes to keep “business” booming. But that doesn’t make it right.

The VC route may have been the best method up to a decade ago, but the dot-com implosion showed quite clearly why lots of money is not exactly a cure-all for hare-brained ideas and lame-brained execution. VC funds are geared to maximize their own revenue, without much regard to what happens to the companies they fund. At its most basic, what the VC fund wants and what the company wants are two separate things and both are almost always incompatible with each other. You hear about the mega-successes, the billion-dollar IPOs and “instant” millionaires, but you don’t hear about the horrendous struggles against VC funders and the failures they help create that litter the business landscape.

As Greg Gianforte has so kindly reminded us, less than one percent of businesses get VC funding. If they are so good, so useful, so helpful, then why are they so damn irrelevant? It’s as if antibiotics were used in only one percent of all infections: it would make you wonder either about the medication or who’s in charge of it.

If you want to slide up to the government teat, feel free. If you want to play chicken with VC greed, have at it. Just don’t complain when bootstrappers are tearing up old markets, blazing new ones and raking in the money and glory while you’re still trying to figure out whose butt needs kissing this week.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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