Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bootstrap Marketing Swarm Complete

The swarm (1)
Originally uploaded by Robert Silverwood.
The Bootstrap Marketing group has completed its first Marketing Swarm. What better organization to swarm for our inaugural event than the Bootstrap Network itself.

What is a swarm?
A Marketing swarm is a gathering of bootstrappers with experience marketing businesses. They will in the space of one meeting prepare a recommended marketing plan for the subject business.
Visit the Bootstrap Wiki for our notes and conclusions.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Supporting Ryan on his new path

Fell0w bootstrapper, Ryan Pitylak writes a heartfelt and contrite article about his spamming days and the new direction he is now charting. I have had a number of emails and conversations with bootstrappers expressing concern about Ryan's leadership of Bootstrap Student and involvement with our community. I will outline my thinking and decision.

When Ryan and I first met I was aware of his spamming activities and we had a very long discussion about them. It became very clear to me that the lawsuit was a wakeup call and caused serious self-examination. I believed him when he explained that he had learned his lesson and was serious about redirecting his energy toward an integrity-driven entrepreneurial path. I decided to actively support him. I felt that I and Bootstrap Austin could do so in a unique way - by having him serve his community. I asked him to help co-found the first Bootstrap Student chapter at UT.

I believe strongly that we are all allowed to make mistakes and should be supported when we learn from them and change our direction for good. I'm reminded of Sir Richard Branson's candid account in his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, about the time as a young bootstrapper when he illegally shipped records across the border to avoid tax. He was raided by the police and realized an incredibly valuable lesson: without his reputation, he had nothing. He resolved to never take short cuts or break the law, no matter how alluring or lucrative. Sir Richard's book is on the Bootstrap must-read list and also the subject of our next Bootstrap Book Club discussion. (We will have a podcast on the Boot Rap).

I'm very excited to support Ryan and I look forward to seeing how this new chapter unfolds, both in his individual bootstrapping adventures and continued involvement with the Bootstrap community. I will add that he has done a wonderful job along with his Bootstrap Student cofounder, Michael Griffin.

We are watching and supporting you Ryan - make us proud!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bootstrap Austin is not a nonprofit!

Bootstrap Austin (and the Bootstrap Network) are a service of Aviri. We do NOT have 501(c)(3) status and have no plans to do so in the future. We do not wish to collect donations from outside parties and true to the bootstrap way, would rather become self-sufficient by serving our customer. Initially, this customer has been the bootstrap community of entrepreneurs. Moving forward, we plan to offer products and services, including joint offerings with some of our member companies.

Bootstrap is an example of an emerging set of organizations which blur the lines between public service and profit-making. We are committed to empowering and organizing entrepreneurs and educating them in the bootstrap way. Similar to Craigslist, profit-making is not the #1 priority of the organization, but self-sufficiency certainly is and will become a focus as we make our way across the Valley of Death. Just as with Craigslist, we will continue to offer a set of free services for our members, while charging for a set of others. For example, we currently charge for meetings, while participation in our online forums is free and will remain so.

Bootstrap is also not run by committee or a board, one of the other benefits of not being a registered nonprofit. Members are invited and remain members by mutual agreeement and while they adhere to the organization's rules of conduct. Bootstrap always reserves the right to ask members to leave for any reason. Members who serve bootstrap in any capacity (and in turn get a waiver of meeting fees) are appointed and do so in mutual agreement with myself or other leaders who have been given jurisdiction over certain aspects of the organization.