Startups that inspire me.

There are various aspects of a startup that can inspire us. Be it; good team, good culture, great product with exponential growth. But one thing that personally inspires me is the self-sustaining business model of a startup to create success.

I have always been an ardent fan of bootstrapped companies. Not the VC darling companies but the companies that actually make money and are profitable without depending on external funding(at least in the early stage). I prefer calling these companies “truly bootstrapped businesses” even better “self-funded businesses”. There are few companies that have really done well without taking any external funding and that inspire me everyday.

To start with, 37signals is one of those rare companies that has done tremendously well (of course they did take an undisclosed amount from Jeff Bezos but it seems they primarily did it to have Jeff on their side as a mentor, and that is a big deal). 37signals has exceptionally been able to set a benchmark on being a real business. One of their products Basecamp is just incredible and they recently put all their stakes on Basecamp by spinning out the other products like Highrise etc. Now, 37signals is Basecamp.

The other one which I almost refer in every conversation is Mailchimp. They have been around for 15 years and are profitable with zero financing.

Zoho is a very good example from India. They have been around for almost two decades and are highly profitable. Zoho’s recent commercial is mesmerizing. Meta Lab, Pivotal Labs, Groove, Browser Stack, Quick Left, and many more are other examples of bootstrapped companies.

Well, it doesn’t mean that I am against the VC backed companies. Not at all! Once you want to scale and accelerate growth then you certainly need VC money. I guess, the more I think, I find those companies highly inspiring that are focussed on sustaining themselves and building great products/services with limited resources. Look at the companies like Groove — they have taken external funding but their main focus is to generate revenues with zero customer churn rate.

It’s these self-sustaining, profitable companies which have a long term vision, that truly inspire me.

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