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Bootstrapping Innovation

June 24, 2010 8:49:16.803

I just finished reading Sramana Mitra's Entrepreneur Journeys v.4 : Innovation: Need Of the Hour (Volume 4) - a set of interviews/case studies with various people who have built businesses from the ground up. Some with venture capital, some without, some in manufacturing, and some in software. The software examples resonated better with me, simply because it's a field I live in; I did like many of the examples from the "harder" sectors though.

I especially liked Paul Cook's Raychem story - he was pretty adamant about the need to pay attention to customers/prospects, and about getting to profitability fast. It's a lesson a lot of software outfits could learn from; I think a lot of the VC money that's been burned in the industry has been a net negative. Mitra makes that point later in the book, when she covered CollabNet, SpringSource, and SugarCRM - all outfits that started from nothing, and bootstrapped themselves into big things.

In general, I liked her call for more rational behavior on the part of government, VC's, and academia - I just wish she hadn't then been so rah rah about the Xunlight thing, a company that's lived exclusively off government grants. I'm not sure I'd call that a success. I also wish she had gone a bit into the problems in the IPO space being caused by SarbOx - that's an example of well intentioned government action that has had the unintended consequence of hindering IPOs.

Overall, I liked the book though. It was fun to read the various stories. Having worked at ParcPlace in the latter part of its startup journey, it was nice to read about firms and people who had not made the same mistakes.

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posted by James Robertson

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