How to Bootstrap Your Business on a Shoestring

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It's a hard-knock entrepreneur life.

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We all know that a healthy amount of dedication is integral to the success of any business, but Nick Zamanov’s start-up story is a lesson in true resilience. The Russian-born entrepreneur lived out of his car in San Francisco’s Bay Area for six months in order to launch Amplefind, an online sports apparel platform.

“I wouldn’t recommend other entrepreneurs to do the same,” Nick acknowledges now, two years later. “But, I do believe you have to fully dedicate yourself to your company and put in the crazy hours in order to get your company off the ground.”

Indeed, while you mightn’t find other CEOs living out of the back of their Volkswagen Jetta, Nick warns that competition within the tech scene is fierce and if you can’t dedicate yourself to your company, don’t expect anyone else to either. “These entrepreneurs have to fight to make their ideas a reality,” say Nick, who moved out of his apartment and into his car on October 10, 2015 in order to bootstrap his business.

“I came up with the idea for AmpleFind after a friend of mine had difficulties buying soccer gear for himself and we were surprised to find there was no dedicated place for sport lovers to get inspired and have a good shopping experience,” Nick recalls.

After researching the market, Nick knew that his idea was a viable one. He also knew that unless he made some drastic cuts financially, it would take him so long to get the business off the ground that someone else would likely beat him to it. By living out of his car, Nick was able to whittle his expenses down to just US$200 a month (spent on gas, food and the 24-hour gym that he showered at), which meant he was free to start building Amplefind from the ground up.

“I didn’t have a back-up plan,” Nick admits, noting that he had initially thought it would take three months to code the site and launch the company but it ended up taking six. “I loved what I did and I used all of my energy and every waking moment to just get it done as soon as possible. My inner voice kept telling me it would work out, and so I just kept going.”

In retrospect, Nick wishes he had spent less time trying to make Amplefind perfect and more time driving sales. “You need to get people talking about your business and actually using it, otherwise there is no point,” Nick advises. “This was valuable lesson for me, recognising how to really prioritise my time.”

Instead of burying this immensely challenging period of his life deep in the past, Nick celebrates it and hopes that it communicates to his customers the kind of company Amplefind is. “I learned that I can live for under $200 a month and exactly how to do [it],” Nick says of what the experience taught him. “That doesn’t just mean knowing the best wi-fi hotspots, or understanding how valuable a gym membership really can be. I know how to cut down to the bare minimum keep going. I know how to focus my attention and stay determined, even when I reached new lows. This is an amazing thing.”

Nick’s final piece of advice for anyone with a brilliant idea for a start-up but lacking the funds to get it off the ground is simply this: tighten your belt and go for it. “You don’t need big funds to start a company nowadays,” he says. “The most important thing is to love what you do, then you can find a way to make it happen.”

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