Entrepreneur 2 Entrepreneur: David Bagley on bootstrapping



David Bagley enStratusTech entrepreneur David Bagley co founded enStratus in 2009 with George Reese to provide an infrastructure management platform for enterprise applications in public and private clouds.  The venture was self-funded at the onset and picked up some nominal angel funding this year before landing a $3.5m series A round with local VC El Dorado.

Of course, much of enStratus’ fundraising success thus far can be attributed to tangible milestones:  forming local partnerships while gaining international customers and acquiring industry recognized talent.


TECHdotMN: We were talking about your recent fundraising round and when asked about a theme that stuck out in your mind, you said “bootstrapping”. Why?

enStratus is a b2b software company in an emerging market – and two of the hardest problems facing a company like us are first the challenge of identifying the hard problem that others will pay you solve to solve, and then secondly the challenge of correctly pacing the market. The great virtue of bootstrapping a company is that it forces you (and your prospects) to address these two issues head on from the get-go, there is no room for theory or excuses if paying the bills depend on finding a problem that a company is willing to pay you to solve right now.

TECHdotMN: Bootstrapping a lifestyle business is one thing, but enStratus is focused on solving a big, hairy problem. How does one’s bootstrapping strategy differ based on the objectives?

Once we felt we had a grip on an important opportunity – in our case “Enterprise Cloud Management” – our strategy was pretty simple: 1. Establish initial solution, 2. Get the initial (but globally credible) reference accounts in our target market, and then 3.Use that early adopter experience as a platform for growth into the mainstream of the market.

TECHdotMN: Generally, the term applies to seeing a self-funded startup through capital formation, but everyone’s experience is different. What has yours been like since the 2009 inception of enStratus?

enStratus has been spun out of another software venture that we had built several years earlier – we were our own first customer. The experience of bootstrapping has been as exciting and exhausting, as exhilarating and frustrating as you could ever ask for.

TECHdotMN: What advice would you have for peer entrepreneurs who are either considering bootstrapping a startup, or, are currently in the midst of it?

My advice would be – make sure you problem that is really worth solving, prepare to be flexible and follow the money, and perhaps most importantly, warn your friends and family that you are about to become very obsessive about work for an extended period of time!