My articles and research on ‘Bootstrapping’

Here’s what it actually takes to make it as an entrepreneur

A young male who was born to be an entrepreneur drops out from a computer-science program at a prestigious university.  He meets a powerful venture capitalist who is so enamored with his idea that he gives him millions of dollars to build his technology.  Then comes the multi-billion-dollar IPO. That’s the Hollywood version of Silicon Valley.  But it is as far from reality as is Disneyland.  Entrepreneurship...

Wall Street Journal: Location No Longer Determines Success

Oculus, the latest technology startup to be acquired for billions of dollars, was based not in Silicon Valley but in Irvine, Calif. Snapchat, which is rumored to be worth billions, is based in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles area is a good place to live and has great weather, but it has no real advantage as a technology center. These companies could have been based anywhere with equal success. You can’t predict...

A $32,000 Startup That Was Sold for Millions

I meet entrepreneurs all over the world who think that venture capital is a prerequisite for starting a company.  They write business plans and ask for introductions to venture capitalists.  I tell them that they should instead bootstrap their startups; that what would have cost millions of dollars a few years ago now costs thousands. Think about it.  Today’s laptops have the same processing power as the...

Wall Street Journal: If I Can Be An Entrepreneur, So Can You

I was 33 years old when I became an entrepreneur. I had developed a revolutionary technology at First Boston, a New York-based investment bank, and IBM offered to invest $20 million in it—provided that we spun the technology off into a new company. I was asked to take the job of chief technology officer. I didn’t come from an entrepreneurial family, and I had no entrepreneurial aspirations. I had a wife...

Wall Street Journal: You Need a Team to Help Climb The Mountain

Building a company isn’t that differe­­­nt from climbing a big mountain. You need people helping you traverse treacherous paths and to lift you up when you fall. That is why most startups need to enlist co-founders and build a strong management team from the outset. Research that my team conducted on the backgrounds and success factors of entrepreneurs in high-growth industries revealed that management...

Wall Street Journal: Business is Not Like Field Of Dreams

“Our corporate motto should be ‘We’ve never heard of you either’”—that is how we joked at my first startup, Seer Technologies, which was founded in 1990. We had broken records by growing a nascent software company into a $118 million-per-year revenue machine. And we had pulled off a successful IPO in just five years. Not even the legends of that time—Microsoft and Oracle—had achieved such a feat. Yet...

MIT Technology Review: Why Silicon Valley Can’t Be Copied

The team at Fairchild Semiconductor, shown here in 1960 in San Jose, California, would produce the first integrated circuit from silicon. Two, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, would later found Intel. For 50 years, the experts have tried to figure out what makes Silicon Valley tick. The answer is people. By 1960, Silicon Valley had already captured the attention of the world as a teeming technology center....

WSJ: Don’t Confuse Investors with Mentors

Entrepreneurship is like a computer game in which you have to master every level before achieving success. Startups repeatedly stumble and have to go back to the drawing board. The best way to skip some levels and to increase the odds of survival is to learn from others who have already played the game. That is the value that mentors provide and the reason why you need to start building relationships with people...

Wall Street Journal: Forget Angels, Try Your Parents or Piggy Bank

The conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley is that venture capitalists and angel investors provide funding for the majority of startups. So most entrepreneurs start their journeys by knocking on their doors. But this is almost always a waste of time because angels and VCs fund only a tiny portion of startups. Harvard Business School professors William R. Kerr and Josh Lerner, and Antoinette Schoar of MIT,  researched  the...

Wall Street Journal/The Accelerators: New Day, New Plan

VIVEK WADHWA: Not long ago, the common belief was that, before you started a company, you needed to develop a business plan. This needed to be a lengthy document that detailed business strategy and made long-term financial projections. Market research was supposed to provide the basis for this plan. Some business schools teach these, but by and large, the technology industry has learned that business plans...

Wall Street Journal: One Giant Leap for Humanity

In 1990, when my team started a software company, we estimated that we would need $20 million in financing to get off the ground. For my second startup, in 1997, we budgeted for $3 million. If I were starting a similar enterprise-software company today, I would probably seek $500,000. Mobile- and social-app developers often make do by maxing out their credit cards. That is how much things have changed. And as...

Washington Post: This is how you build a tech community

You can’t help being overwhelmed by the natural beauty and Swiss-village-like charm of Boulder, Colorado. With a population of just under 99,000, you wouldn’t expect it to be the home of a Silicon Valley-style tech center complete with hundreds of Internet and software startups. I was certainly impressed with the vibrancy of its tech community when I visited Boulder in March 2010. The local cafés were...