Startup Shark Tank Showcase event in San Francisco – Demo and pitch – Sep 19

Startup pitch and demo event will be held at Ruby Sky in San Francisco on Friday Spetember 19th. Sign up and get tickets here -

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Startups[Shank]Showcase Demo+Pitch Expo & Business Mixer  is open to all Startups in all business verticals! 

The event is judged by industry Pro’s, VC’s and Angels! 

5:30 PM – Attendees Check-In
6:00 PM – Business Nworking Mixer
7:00 PM – Speaker(s)
7:15 PM – 2 Min – Pitching begins
8:45 PM – Voting for the Winner
8:45 PM – Winner Announced
9:00 PM – More Networking
10:00 - After – Party only RSVP’s allowed entry.

List coming Soon… Startups Apply to Demo+Pich – Click here < >


Micro Ventures, Tim Sullivan, (Micro Ventures invests in qualified companies and also bring Accredited Investors to invest in those qualified companies)

SF Angels Group, Manny Fernandez (SF Angels Group, is a San Francisco-based angel investment firm. We help start-ups with financing, connections, business development, and mentorship.)

Voivoda Ventures, Peter Nedyalkov, (VoiVoda is a technology acceleration fund focused on B2B startup companies. We combine the resources of our own fund with those of a broad network of angel investors to assist companies in raising their first institutional round.)

DoubleRock Venture Capital, Suraj Kumar Rajwani, (DoubleRock invests primarily in early and growth stage technology companies. We help successful, entrepreneurial businesses scale to become global market leaders)

Andrew B. Bartels, (Angel investor, Executive Director Nobility Ventures provides early round funding Nobility Ventures, , with experience in High Tech, Financial Markets, Global Energy and Healthcare sectors.)

Gary Starr, (Angel Investor that has been a founder and investor in over a dozen startups, two of which became public entities.  He is currently involved in Make A Stand, Inc, a social impact company that manufactures organic lemonade, and soon to introduce a mobile crowd funding APP for social impact.

Roger King, (Angel Investor, Founder of Bay Angels and currently raising 1M for Also searching for the next great startup)

Allen Young, Angel Investor, Founder of Runway one of the largest technology co-working spaces

Bhrigu Raj Jhabua, is a social entrepreneur and Angel Investor based out of India & San Francisco.  Along with several Silicon Valley angel groups and think tanks.

Keiretsu Forum, (Keiretsu Forum is a global angel investor network with over 1000 accredited investor members throughout 26 chapters on 3 continents!) Nearly 1Billion invested to date.

Baltimore Bootstrappers Breakfast – Welcome Startups!

Coming Soon - BaltimoreI’m pretty excited about starting the Bootstrappers Breakfast in Baltimore. The program has brought together many like-minded entrepreneurs in cities across the country. The conversation is among peers – bootstrapping entrepreneurs helping one another. (Please, no soliciting.)

We’ve had to cap attendance at 36 – three tables of 12. Bigger tables make it difficult to have a conversation. Since the event is free, I know that people will not show. We expect to be at capacity, so if you’ve registered for the event on Sept 19, please keep your RSVP updated – and change your registration if it turns out you won’t be attending.

While the event is free, you are responsible for your own breakfast. City Cafe will do separate checks, even if you just have a coffee. They have a great space for us. We don’t take sponsorships (so you won’t be sold to) and use the restaurant without cost, so breakfast is a small price to have access to this opportunity.

Each of the three tables will have a moderator. Alex Kutsishin of human will join me in moderating. I am in the process of getting one other to help.

Also, check out the Baltimore Super Meetup that Baltimore runs at the beginning of Innovation Week. We’re all invited to network with all of the other Meetups that will be participating during the week-long event.

Thanks! Looking forward to meeting everyone. If you can’t make this first meeting, we’ll be doing it once a month – but if you’re like many of us, you won’t want to miss one :-)



First Midland Breakfast was a great success

Thanks to all the bootstrappers that made it out and to Chris Moultrup and Mid Michigan Innovation Center for hosting!

A quick wrap up of today’s breakfast

  • A young developer is looking to start working on his own project. We say go for it! The world really needs more talented developers building the next new thing!
  • Dustin and Steve who have started a marketing agency have ambitions beyond Midland and want to grow nationally! Reach out if you are in the need of an agency.
  • A young PR executive has thoughts on starting her own company. Currently she manages a blog and produces a lot of great content. If you are a startup in need of content again let me know I will connect.
  • A fellow bootstrapper is considering coming out of retirement and is looking to fill an industrial site that is a large consumer of electricity. One suggestion was to check out data centers!
  • just launched its website that allows people to order custom one off greating cards. Additionally you can schedule your cards throughout the year. The founder needed some direction on how to test. Lets help him test by ordering a few custom cards! Any feedback please give through their web page.
  • A microbiologist is currently looking for ways to market a new cigarette smoke odor eraser that actually works. The group throughout hundreds of possible channels. To some up he is going to work on making a simple website to serve as an MVP to sell direct to the consumer to test multiple different target audiences. This is a major change from their current channel.
  • An internet connected bluetooth enabled toothbrush with an accelerometer! That puts my electric toothbrush to shame. They are looking for help refining the tech behind the accelerometer portion.
  • An experienced bootstrapper says his biggest challenge is getting customers to divorce them from their ‘bad’ ways/ideas. One solution discussed is to approach the client and an opportune time. Much easier to ask for a raise when the boss is whistling then when their in a bad mood!

Make sure to register for the next breakfast!

Ten Quotes for Bootstrappers From July 2014

  1. “It is not the employer who pays wages. He only handles the money. It is the product that pays the wages and it is the management that arranges production so that the product may pay the wages.”
    Henry Ford in “My Life and Work
    I think successful bootstrappers understand that hiring employees is only sustainable if customers are willing to pay for their labor either directly or embedded in product or service delivery chain.
  2. “There will always be a shortage of talented, self-motivated creative professionals who will unquestioningly follow orders.” James Halliday (@substack)
    We get folks at the breakfast from time to time who are looking for talented self-motivated technical co-founders who will implement the founder’s vision exactly and work for a small slice of equity. I have yet to have someone come who just wanted to follow orders in an equity-only relationship.
  3. “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Hunter S. Thompson
    It’s OK to be different, find out where you can be a pro in your own way.
  4. “In my experience, most people don’t schedule their work.
    They schedule the interruptions that prevent their work from happening.”
    Mike Monteiro in “The Chokehold of Calendars
    This is a fantastic insight. We now schedule intermediate working sessions in addition to putting due dates on the calendar: we will spend 30 minutes (or an hour or two hours) making progress on this project at 2pm next Tuesday if it’s due in three weeks.
  5. You have to roll up your sleeves and be a stonecutter before you can become a sculptor–command of craft always precedes art: apprentice, journeyman, master.” Philip Gerard
    This is true for all aspects of your business.
  6. “Scaling your business is all about having more people solve more problems for you.” Hugh MacLeod
    I paired these the next one because together they neatly capture a key growth principle and the sensation of having it happen<
  7. “Existential: Walking around the office, hearing other people having conversations that used to only be in my head.” Matt Wensing in “On Making the Transition to Growth
    If you want to scale up your business you have to share information and context and allow other members of your team to be able to have an informed discussion with you about risks and issues. And ultimately to have some of those discussions without your participation.
  8. “Every time I’ve seen someone create a business, with the ultimate intention of getting away from that business and its customers as quickly as possible, instead of moving towards that business and its customers, it fails.” Bryan Franklin in “Four Reasons Why Passive Income is a Destructive Fantasy
    I think the Four Hour Work Week has offered a mirage that has lured more bootstrappers onto the rocks than “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” The belief that you don’t need to care about your customers and manage your business to succeed is at least as productive as “my product is so good I don’t need to learn how to market and sell it.”
  9. “I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.” Winston Churchill
    The key to a good 30 second introduction is not just to practice but to deliver it in a way that seems fresh to everyone that you meet. OK, that’s probably not as important as keeping it to 30 seconds but it’s one of the keys to mastering the start of a good conversation.
  10. “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.” Henry Ward Beecher

If you haven’t been to a Bootstrapper Breakfast in a while drop in and reconnect with “entrepreneurs who like to eat problems for breakfast.”®

Quotes take from “Quotes for Entrepreneurs–July 2014

Welcome to Bootstrappers Breakfast Midland!

Welcome MidlandBootstrappers Breakfast is a nationwide Meetup and we are very happy to bring the breakfast to Midland. At Bootstrappers we aim to provide a wealth of resources to help you through the challenges of starting/running/building a startup. At the breakfast you will be able to dive deep into any challenges you may have and receive actionable takeaways to continue to push up and to the right!

Our next breakfast will be Wednesday August 13th at 8:30am at the Mid Michigan Innovation Center in Midland. Link below for details and to RSVP.

CoFoundersLab Matchup Chicago

Co Founders Lab logoWhen: Tuesday, July 22nd from 6:30-9:30pm

Where: TechNexus (20 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1200)

What: CoFoundersLab Matchup Chicago is aimed at helping entrepreneurs find co-founders, advisers & interns and to build strong, core founding teams. Get started networking now with a potential core team member by creating a free profile on

Cost: $10, $20 At-the-Door (Includes food & beverages.)
RSVP Here:

Cheryl Downing’s Insights on Crowdfunding from June 17 Breakfast in Sunnyvale

Cheryl Downing is a small business marketing and crowdfunding consultant. She advises and coaches small business startups and product developers/inventors how to grow their businesses quickly, specializing in raising money through crowdfunding. Cheryl spent the early part of her career in corporate software product development and marketing. Since 2001, Cheryl has volunteered as an SBA marketing trainer and been an active supporter of the Inventors Alliance association. She Co-Chairs the SVForum 3D Printing SIG and the 3D Printing for Education Meetup group.

Cheryl joined us June 17 in Sunnyvale to offer some some tips on crowdfunding your next project.

“Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital in small amounts from a large group of people using the Internet and social media. Unlike funds from venture capitalists or angel investors, the money raised through crowdfunding doesn’t necessarily buy the lender a share, and there is no guarantee that it will be repaid if the venture is successful. Instead, individuals are asked to make microinvestments or donations to causes and ventures they believe in, thus allowing the work to be completed. Crowdfunding is also known as crowd source capital.”

Source: Techopedia’s “Crowdfunding” entry

Cheryl’s talk address three common platforms: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub. She pointed to Kickstarter’s Statistics page ( to demonstrate that most campaigns raise between $1K – $10K with funding fees approximately 10% of the funds raised. Some platforms are all-or-nothing other are partial or flexible. 

In her experience campaigns typically run for 30 intense days, although they can run longer. The key promotional components that she has found effective: 

  • Inspirational video
  • Creative thank you gifts
  • Cultivating mentions and coverage from major media and influential bloggers.
  • Social Media and E-mail, especially when you can foster viral sharing
  • Key backers and customers who contribute and promote
Successful campaigns typically get off to a strong start in the first three days from prior preparation that has started at least a month prior, and often up to six months. There can be a period of few contributions in the middle and then a strong finish in the last few days.

Cheryl provided a one page handout that is available as a blog post at along with many other resources at her site.

Three Take-Aways from Jonathan Wang’s Talk on Jaio Sports, a Hardware Startup

On March 28 at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View, Jonathan Wang talked about his experiences starting, scaling, and selling Jaio Sports. Jaio Sports developed and sold a wearable device for professional golfers. Just  as they were making sales to early adopters and getting qualified for tournament play the iPhone shipped: apps on that platform, and later Android as well, came to dominate the recreational golf market.

The three lessons I took away:

  1. Selling to experts does not prepare you for the support questions you will get from “average” consumers. It’s 10-100X the support burden.
  2. Physical distribution and inventory management require someone on the team who understands supply chain and logistics. It’s a very different set of challenges from selling software.
  3. Jaio solved several hard problems, e.g. the design of a low cost GPS-enabled wearable device pre-iPhone, getting qualified for use by professional golfers in tournament play, and mapping hundreds of golf courses very accurately. But the goal of casual consumer adoption was frustrated by the unanticipated arrival of a GPS equipped iPhone so that the golf functionality was essentially free with the phone.

If the iPhone had shipped while they were in the concept or design phase I suspect they would have changed plans. Hindsight is always 20-20 but there might have been a small but profitable business selling to professional golfers. But this might not have garnered investment or satisfied their investors as a pivot.

Jonathan Wang blogs at Start-Up Black Ops, a website started on the belief:

Every entrepreneur will, at some point along their journey, find themselves at the bottom of a big, dark pit–seemingly alone, surrounded by nothing, and without a way out.  That is the unavoidable norm when it comes to starting and running your own business. It is only at the bottom of this hole where you can learn and develop the skills to get out…and in doing so, you learn just how difficult entrepreneurship is and what it requires of your will and patience to succeed.

  1. You are not alone – the process is equally difficult and sucks just as much to the next person
  2. You can be creative – desperation will force you to try things you have never done before
  3. You don’t give up – you always ensure yourself a fighting chance when you at least try
  4. You will fail (not once, but many times) – you are better for it and will emerge smarter and stronger

For some observations on the Start-Up Black Ops Creed see “Four Principles From Jonathan Wang’s Start-Up Black Ops Creed

Matt Oscamou talks about founding Frontier Bites, recap from April 15, 2014

Matt Oscamou, the founder of Frontier Bites, talked about lessons learned getting a food startup off the ground at the April 15 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. Here is a short recording of his introduction, the benefits the Bootstrapper Breakfast has offered him, and how he came to bootstrap Frontier Bites with his brother and persevere after his brother passed away in a rafting accident.

Transcript of Remarks

Matt Oscamou: I have a food company in Silicon Valley, bucking the tech trend. I was over at Red Rock Coffee working in the downstairs area and I saw “Bootstrappers Breakfast” on the calendar so I figure I would try to find out what that was. This was right when I was getting going. It’s been a helpful group ot bounce some ideas off of. My attendance has been relatively sporadic based on the needs of the business. It’s been good.

Q: You left a high paying job with a future that was very securre. You left the City of Menlo Park where you were working as an engineer.

Matt: yes, I was the City Engineer for Menlo Park. I was running the entire engineering department. I had built a lot of buildings and infrastructure including some pretty big projects. We were going gangbustsers there for quite a while.

I had an opportunity to finish something that I had started so I decided to take it. Frontier Bites is our product line. It’s a product that my brother and I created together in 2010. We wanted to make something that tasted good, was lightweight, had simple ingredients, and was a replacement for the energy bars that we were eating while we were hiking or backpacking.

We started out with a baking competition to see who could make the best product. After about a year of toying around with it, eating it, and giving it to people, we decided to turn it into a business.

April 2011 is when we decided to jump in and get it going: totaly bootstrapping everything. My brother was in finance and doing some work in Northern California and doing this business on the side. I was doing it on the side–of this relatively demanding job, even though you might not think working for a city is demanding, try working at Menlo Park.

We were both working nights and weekends..early mornings, whatever would make it happen. After we really got started the unfortunate part of the whole story is that my brother passed away about five months after we got started. He was in a rafting accident. It was totally unexpected and the kind of thing that can really derail you or motivate you to get going.

We opened the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium in Menlo Park, it was probably the biggest project I did there, As soon as we had the grand opening, I put in my notice in May 2012 and have been doing this ever since.