Thursday, February 14, 2008

Monday's Monthly Bootstrap Austin Meeting

For those that didn't make it Monday, you missed a good one! Paul Carrozza, the founder and owner of RunTex, spoke about his experiences bootstrapping RunTex into the bona fide Austin tradition it has become today. Some of the highlights of his talk included:
  • Launching RunTex out of a small shop of old inventory on a personal loan from his parents
  • Stories about some of the first running events and races organized by Paul that helped RunTex go on to bigger and bigger successes
  • Paul's passion for running, his experience as an All-American runner in college and ironically how he constantly struggles with running due to Asthma
  • His thoughts on the growth and expansion of RunTex as well as potential exit strategies
  • How Paul built RunTex one shoe at a time and one race at a time

I think the one key thing I came away from this talk with was the importance of having a passion for what you do in your own venture or personal undertakings. Paul certainly embodies this. Paul wants to see people get in better shape by running and wants people to continue to grow as runners. Everything that RunTex does helps further Paul's vision for building a lasting community of runners here in Austin and beyond. Paul has taken a community based approach to spreading the running "gospel". RunTex follows this approach by building relationships through a network of coaches that RunTex provides to individuals, local community organizations, businesses, and even government offices.

There were several interesting bootstrap ideas within Paul's talk. One that stood out for me was how Paul financed new areas of development with cash from other revenue generating areas of the business. Paul's approach was to launch a project he believes in and then figure out how he'll pay for it! While this might now always be the most advisable course of action, it showed how his passion and vision would eventually help show him how to achieve ultimate success in new undertakings of the business.

It's not like he is flying blind was obvious that he understood the unit economics of his business. He has an excellent grasp of what each new running event could raise for RunTex and the event sponsor and what each shoe would cost (or make) for RunTex . He also knows what he could ultimately use those shoes for: either attracting new runners (and future customers) with training events that included new shoe giveaways or for children who are getting their first taste of the benefits and enjoyment of long distance running.

As I was running in my neighborhood the other night I realized Paul must be right at home as a runner and a bootstrapper. There are a lot of similarities between bootstrapping and running. Both require training the body and the mind to be prepared for what the road ahead has to offer, both demand discipline, and both need the runner/bootstrapper to have a deep understanding of themselves and their own capabilities for the ultimate journey to be a success.

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