Matt Oscamou, founder of Frontier Bites, speaks at Bootstrapper’s Breakfast Sunnyvale

Frontier BitesToday, at the Sunnyvale Bootstrapper’s Breakfast Meetup in Sunnyvale, we had the pleasure of having a wonderfully inspiring speaker – Matt Oscamou. He is the founder of Frontier Bites, a healthy snack food product. He is based in Mountain View and he is a great example of what it means to be a successful and resourceful bootstrapping entrepreneur.

Matt started Frontier Bites in 2011, after deciding to leave a civic engineering career to follow his passion for creating healthy and delicious food products. He has built his company from the ground up and (incredibly) he has been running it as a “one man shop”, as he likes to say.

He also talked about using a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the redesign of his packaging (shown at right).

Frontier Bites has been growing steadily since its inception, and it has recently been given the go ahead to be included on the shelves at Whole Foods and REI, among many other smaller local stores. In addition to creating a brand new product, managing all aspects of the business, marketing, and production, Matt has also found the time to participate in the Stanford Startup accelerator program LaunchPad, and he was just recently featured on a CBS segment about startups pitching to Google Ventures VCs in the back of Uber Cabs (how cool does that sound?! – link ).

Matt had many lessons learned to share with our audience today, and we thank him for his candid and insightful advice. Here are a few notes and pointers from his talk:

  • Prototype in small batches and take baby steps to truly understand what your customers want and how to create the best product possible. Use the design thinking method whenever possible.
  • Choose your partners wisely and work out meaningful business relationships.
  • Bootstrap as much as possible, and as many aspects of your business as you can.
  • Use professional, licensed producers if you want to make high volumes of food products, don’t try to do everything yourself.
  • Find ways to minimize risk by working in small batches.

We truly wish Matt all the best as he takes Frontier Bites to the next level and hope to hear more about his company in the near future. In the meantime, make sure to check out Frontier Bites’ delicious (and healthy!) selection of bite sized snacks at

For more info see

April 2014 Roundup For Silicon Valley

Community Channels: Yahoo Group | @bootstrappers | LinkedIn Group | Blog | SV-Meetup | SF-Meetup

A Preview of Coming Events For April-June 2014

San Francisco Bootstrapper Breakfast Apr 2 at  9am at Boudin Bakery in Embarcadero 4 in SF. Carl Ludewig moderates our regular roundtable format.

Insides Sales 101 for Startups Apr 2 in Palo Alto Seminar for founders and early employees on developing and executing an inside sales process. Speakers include Steli Efti, CEO of Close.ioIlya Lichtenstein, CEO of MixRank and Jorge Soto, Inside Sales at MoPub

Mastermind Group for IEEE Consulting Network of Silicon Valley Apr 3 and 17 4-6pm in Sunnyvale.  Electrical, Mechanical, Optical, and Recovering engineers welcome.

Palo Alto Bootstrapper Breakfast Apr 4 at 7:30am at Hobees in Palo Alto

Avoid Death by Board Meetings 7:15am Apr 9 in Menlo Park inspired by Nick Sturiale’s article “Death by Board Meeting” that’s also useful for bootstrappers managing advisory board. Panel: Dan Levin, COO, Box, Jules Maltz, General Partner, Institutional Venture Partners; Gary Swart, CEO, oDesk; Sharon Wienbar, Partner, Scale Venture Partners

Sunnyvale Bootstrapper Breakfast April 15: 7:30am at Cocos. Guest Entrepreneur Matt Oscamou of Frontier Bites talks about lessons learned bootstrapping a baked good startup. Matt designed these bite size snacks to offer a delicious, healthy way to get energy when you’re on the go: Non-GMO, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Dairy-free, Preservative-free, and include no Refined Sugars

Lean Startup Unconference April 16 at Runway in SF produced by Tristan Kromer and SF Lean Startup Circle opening session is on “Worldwide PR” by Chris Lindland, founder of Betabrand

Giving a Great Demo! Key Discovery Questions To Ask Before You Start Pitching April 16  6pm Menlo Park. If prospects say “that’s interesting” or “you’ve given us a lot to think about, let us get back to you” and stop returning your calls and emails, Sean Murphy’s talk will help you understand how to map of their needs.

Mountain View Bootstrappers Breakfast Apr 25 9am on second floor at Red Rock Coffee two blocks from Mountain View Train Station.

Great Demo! Workshop May 22-23 San Jose: Peter Cohan’s workshop is useful for B2B software startups. It’s normally only offered privately on-site at major SW firms.

California Program for Entrepreneurship June-Nov 2014: (primarily weekends) at Santa Clara B-School. CAPE provides education and mentoring to emerging entrepreneurs to help them develop and implement business plans that will contribute to the growth and well-being of the California economy. No charge.
Apply On-Line: deadline May 31, 2014  See Flyer [PDF]

Some Quotes On Perseverance

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
Japanese Proverb “Nana-Korobi, Ya-Oki”

“For though the upright falls seven times, he gets up again;
the wicked are the ones stumble in adversity.”
Proverbs 24:16 Jerusalem Bible

In the early years, I had some midnight-of-your-soul type of times.
Once, I came home from a fair and found the window in my cabin blown in. Snow was all over. It was 20 below and 3 in the morning. I hadn’t made any money and the car had just barely made it there. I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall. It doesn’t come from one brilliant idea, but from a bunch of small decisions that accumulate over the years. And you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that’s involved, the amount of fear that’s involved.
Roxanne Quimby in “How I Did It: Roxanne Quimby” from Inc. Magazine.

Cem Erdem at Minneapolis BB Thu-Mar-27

Cem Erdem (@CemErdem) started one of the first ISPs in MN in ’94, was instrumental in the growth of a dot com start-up 1995-96, created Internet strategy, architecture, infrastructure for a Fortune 500 company 1997-98, lead the e-business division of a consulting company and consulted for small to Fortune 100 companies on e-business vision and strategy 1999-2000, and built Augusoft, the first SaaS software for the non-credit education market in 2000, which became the leader in its niche market, used by hundreds of schools in U.S. and Canada. Cem also started the first tech accelerator program in MN, Project Skyway.

See also Cem Erdem’s profile on TECHdotMN

Adrian Holovaty: Chicago is For Bootstrappers

Some excerpts from a talk by Adrian Holvaty on Jan 24, 2014 (from his transcript at “Why Chicago needs to stop playing by Silicon Valley’s rules“).

Chicago is great for bootstrappers. Let’s take advantage of that.

“Bootstrapping” has a few different connotations, but what I specifically mean is: small companies with a couple of people, likely developers, who take no outside investment money. They build products because they love the work, the craftsmanship, the pride in building and creating.

They want to make a good living, but, just as important, they want freedom — financial freedom, of course, but equally importantly freedom from people telling them what to do (bosses, investors, etc.).

They want to build solid, revenue-generating businesses without the need for an exit.

Read the whole thing, Holovaty offers some very good insights

Adrian Holvarty is the co-creator of the Django Web framework the and founder of EveryBlock. He is currently at work building Soundslice, which is “living sheet music.”

Some related blog posts:

March 2014 Roundup for Silicon Valley

Community Channels: Yahoo Group | @bootstrappers | LinkedIn Group | Blog | SV-Meetup | SF-Meetup


A Preview of Coming Events For March-May 2014

Startup Pitch Bootcamp, with Adeo Ressi Mar 12 6:30 PM Palo Alto: Attend to improve how you communicate your business to employees, customers, and investors.

Sunnyvale Bootstrapper Breakfast Mar 18: Our Regular Roundtable Format at 7:30am

Effective Strategies for Startups Selling to the Enterprise Mar 18 6pm Santa Clara A panel  CIOs offer an in-depth discussion of the nuts and bolts of selling to the enterprise.

Founder Institute Informational Session Mar 20 6:30 PM Palo Alto: an informational event about the world’s largest idea stage accelerator.

Getting More Customers Workshop Mar 25 in Sunnyvale: An interactive workshop that covers a variety of proven marketing techniques for growing your business: attendees will select one or two that fit their style and develop a plan to implement them in their business in the next 90 days.

Mountain View Bootstrappers Breakfast Welcomes Founder of Jaio Sports Mar 28: Jon Wang, founder of Jaio Sports, shares his experience building a wearable device startup.

Great Demo! Workshop May 22-23 San Jose: Peter Cohan’s workshop is useful for B2B software startups. It’s normally only offered privately on-site at major SW firms.

Change is hard: a Bootstrapper Breakfast offers a safe place to express frustration and misgivings with where you are in your business. But you have to take care with the story you tell yourself–and you tell about yourself–that you don’t get trapped in the negative. Here are some blog posts with suggestions for how to frame your story, telling the truth, but focused on the future.

Detroit Entrepreneurs “Eat Problems for Breakfast” at Morning Roundtable Supported by Bizdom and Bootstrappers® Breakfast

DETROIT, March 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Bootstrappers Breakfast group ( celebrates 6 months of serious early morning discussions among startup founders and thanks Bizdom (, startup accelerator for their support hosting our meetings. Bizdom is a startup accelerator that provides seed funding and intense mentorship to entrepreneurs looking to launch and grow innovative tech-based startups in the downtown Detroit. These monthly meetings are one example of Detroit’s strong commitment to entrepreneurship and new business development.

All entrepreneurs who like to “eat problems for breakfast” are invited to bring business issues and challenges to discuss with peers on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.

For more information see or contact

“At last month’s meeting, the roundtable topics included: time management and sales best practices. It also included discussions about tips on building a customer base,” said moderator Travis Johnson, founder of foodjunky. “Attendees — everyone from experienced high-tech business owners to entrepreneurial folk with the next great idea and an interest in starting a company — will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and engage in frank discussions about business issues, struggles and successes. Bootstrappers Breakfast meetings are highly interactive and focused on helping attendees solve problems,” he continued.

Members are saying great things about us:

  • “A great experience; I enjoyed the roundtable format to hear about and discuss real issues faced by lean startups in the area. Looking forward to the next one!”
  • “The Bootstrappers breakfast allows you to get an outside perspective, feedback, and answers based on your own challenges at hand. The response, experiences, and helpfulness from the rest of the group is great.”
  • “Bootstrappers Breakfast is a great way to brainstorm with members of the community to solve some of my companies biggest challenges.”  Brian Bosche Co-founder of TernPro

Bob Mattoon speaks about Hardware Startups at Sunnyvale Bootstrapper’s Meetup

Bob Mattoon of ISC Networks shared his extensive experience and tips for managing hardware startups at the Sunnyvale Meetup earlier this week. He focused his presentation on past experiences and lessons learned (see below for a copy of his notes from the talk).
The audience included a numerous mix of hardware specialists who contributed to the Q&A session and added their point of view to the conversation. Some o the topics discussed included:
- Customer acquisition strategies
- 3D printing for rapid prototyping
- Offshore vs domestic prototyping process

Thanks to Bob and to everyone for contributing - Happy reading!



Risk & Cost Management, Building Your Prototype and Pilot Hardware to ensure successful production ramp

7 tips for bootstrappers managing supply chain and contract manufacturers (onshore and offshore) in the design, specification, manufacture, and test of prototype and pilot hardware:
1) Perform Engineering Verification Testing (EVT) onshore and resolve issues prior to planning production release
2) Engineering to focus on the targeted and specified functionality in order to contain design and cost creep.
3) The Yields can be the difference between profit and loss. Yields should be addressed in both EVT and PVT processes.
4) Formalize and release ATE Test systems just as you would release a product.
5) Perform Production Verification Testing (PVT’s) from your targeted production plant as a prerequisite to releasing the product. All major functions involved in the transfer sign off as part of a formal ECN process.
6) Manage and greatly limit the number of sole sourced components. In both AML & AVL.
7) Work with suppliers through-out the design process on how best to ensure a viable supply chain of materials as well as material costs, and material lead-times as you migrate the assembly to production location.

1) Perform Engineering Verification Testing (EVT) onshore and resolve issues prior to planning production release.
i. Build 50 or 100 units
ii. Build exactly to Engineering release of both product & assy/test setup (numerical rev)
iii. Limits material expenditure to a low cost level especially if changes are needed
iv. Determine:
1. Functionality
2. What wasn’t documented and/or issues raised by CM in performing the build
3. Part / Design changes needed
4. FW or Software changes needed
5. Yields, plan vs actual
6. Test systems and assembly and test processes fully documented
7. Training requirements
8. Through-put, therefore what is the capacity

2) Perform Production Verification Testing (PVT’s) from your targeted production plant as a prerequisite to releasing the product. All major functions involved in the transfer sign off as part of a formal ECN process.
i. Build 500 or 1,000 units (based on R/R of product)
ii. Build to expected last Engineering Rev of product & assy/test setup (numerical rev)
iii. Limits material expenditure, especially if changes are needed
iv. Units can be used for “Gold” units for both CM and OEM, customer Beta units, sample units for training for Quality & Customer personnel, and UL Test units.
v. Successful build and design then become alpha revision level (“A”)
vi. Determine:
1. Yields
2. Test systems, assembly and test processes released
3. Training
4. Capacity now, in future, need – tie into forecasts
5. Final packaging & labeling reqmts
6. Production tracking to be monitored and agreed to with CM
7. Performance metrics to be tracked by CM for QBR
8. Final standard costs for release of product made transparent to Accounting & Mgmt
9. Supply Chain lead-times, costs, escalation points, AVL, AML
10. Reverse logistics / Repair depot needs and the capabilities
11. Logistics carriers, methods, costs
12. Inventory policy

3) Engineering to focus on the targeted and specified functionality in order to contain design and cost creep.
a. Does it meet the targeted specifications
b. Is it at the cost level targeted……………..make a profit

4) The Yields can be the difference between profit and loss. Yields should be addressed in both EVT and PVT processes.

5) Formalize and release ATE Test systems just as you would release a product.
a. Avoid the “Here’s how it works” approach and the $75k rework jobs
b. Avoid files and designs are only on someone’s C drive
c. How do you increase capacity by factor of 10
i. Leverage CM to be able to replicate test systems (cost effective)

6) Manage and greatly limit the number of sole sourced components. In both AML & AVL.
a. Avoid the “more available than sand”
b. Greatly impacts cost, lead-time, capacity, responsiveness – best way to lower cost is to lower part count and reduce single sourced parts
c. Greatly impacts Engineering resources and cost to continually respond to end of life parts
d. Because it is available here, doesn’t mean it is available there
e. Instill competition from suppliers

7) Work with suppliers through-out the design process on how best to ensure a viable supply chain of materials as well as material costs, and material lead-times as you migrate the assembly to production location.
a. Be aware of supplier’s Point Of Sale………… clue to how they are motivated, and where they have resources to support you.
b. Suppliers can greatly add to the design process
c. Suppliers have a vested interest in the production ramp and sourcing
d. Suppliers may have multiple distribution points and can connect the dots for you
e. Be open to ideas, brainstorm with the suppliers, they were my business partner
f. Create QBR’s with suppliers within the supply chain, make sure these support the CM QBR’s and your business QBR’s



1) Manufacturing contract, if required

2) Program Management – generating a program management timeline for all transfer activities, assigned parties, determined due dates, prerequisite steps/actions identified through successful completion of 1st article builds and Production verification builds

3) Aligning customer’s and manufacturer’s personnel and functions
a. provide full contact list of technical persons and manufacturing persons between customer and manufacturer
b. provide escalation path of critical milestones
c. identify key executives within customer and manufacturer associated with success of the program
d. identify support organizations required for success of transfer (i.e.: IT, Document Control, Engineering, Quality, Supply Chain)
e. identify key support systems (i.e.: PLM system, ERP system, Qualify system, Engineering Data system)

4) Establish and mutually agree upon business metrics to be reviewed and reported as a part of this transition and production
a. frequency of review
b. included categories and specific measurable criteria
c. define the sources for the data to be provided within the measurable criteria
d. define responsible parties for each measurable criteria

5) Financial
a. outlining of financial data to establish credit
b. payment terms and conditions
c. final selling price per unit & stated with FOB point
d. terms for NRE expenditures
e. purchase order, sales order tools and requirements
f. terms associated with pricing adjustments
g. PPV, NPV events defined

6) Personnel transitioning if required or advantageous – discussion on relocating personnel to outsource partner to aid the transition process on either a part-time, full-time, permanent, temporary arrangement which is mutually agreeable by both parties

7) Forecast of product(s) build for planning purposes and establishment of expectations
a. lead-time response for products, by quantity
b. analysis of product life cycle for all materials to assess end of life, lead-times, availability factors
c. manufacturer can begin to inquire of suppliers on availability of materials and forecasting material requirements
d. upside build requirements and their timeframe
e. stocking of FG, or sub-assembly, or raw materials as agreed upon by customer and manufacturer
f. capacity requirements

8) Product documentation
a. release all boms and AVL, so manufacturer can load all the boms & AVL’s into their ERP and tracking systems
b. all source control drawings and electronic files released and filed within Document Control dept
c. get samples of current packaging so manufacturer can reverse engineer and get priced by their packaging sources
d. all expensed items to be identified, usage identified, AVL information
e. All labeling, printed, CD material to be identified, released with original files and rev controlled
f. Firmware release and control
g. Product nomenclatures for reporting and/or required for input to test systems/data
h. Serialization of product requirements (nomenclature, tracking, reporting, systems interface, identified on product and/or containers

9) Special Material information
a. Any parts requirement LOA (letter of authorization)
b. Any parts where customer has established agreement with component vendor, and requires authorization
c. ASIC parts requiring authorization to purchase
d. Any parts requiring an incoming test and will experience a less than 100% yield impact, i.e.: untested ASIC’s
e. Any materials requiring specialized inspection criteria and/or reporting

10) Assembly processes and equipment
a. parts list of all assembly system components with AVL information for all purchased items
b. assembly processes released w/rev controlled
c. assembly process flow diagram w/rev control
d. source control drawings for custom assembly fixtures and equipment
e. assembly yields distribution
f. calibration requirements & servicing organizations
g. RoHS requirements

11) Test processes and equipment
a. parts list of all test system components with AVL information for all purchased items
b. test system programs, rev control of programs
c. test processes released w/rev controlled
d. test process flow diagram w/rev control
e. source control drawings for custom test fixtures and equipment
f. test yields distribution
g. rework processes w/rev control
h. test data & systems compilation & reporting requirements
i. calibration requirements & servicing organizations

12) Quality
a. quality data compilation required by customer
b. quality standards required
c. ISO and/or other certification requirements
d. Auditing requirements, with frequency, organization involved

13) Compliance
a. any compliance, laboratory testing, regulatory requirements E.g. FCC, UL, CE etc.
b. Any third party approval and compliance requirement.

14) Packaging
a. Defined all packaging requirements (including carton box, bulk pack, gift box etc.)
b. Hazardous material packaging requirements (if applicable)
c. Battery or powered devices packaging requirements
d. Environmental packaging requirements

15) Logistics
a. International Terms applicable for project
b. transportation methods to be used, preferred, when deviations are requested
c. preferred freight forwarders and/or logistics companies to use (their contact information to be provided)
d. Hazardous material logistics requirements
e. Powered devices logistics requirements

16) Reverse Logistics
a. Retuned product for customer need for repair depot requirements
b. defined replacement/repair costs
i. repair specifications
ii. repair quality standards
c. Ownership of logistics costs
d. Responsible party for completion of all forms to meet international and customs laws and regulations

17) Product Warranty
a. Workmanship and materials warranty defined
b. New assemblies
c. Repaired assemblies

Hardware Startups Popular Again in Silicon Valley

We have seen a significant uptick in hardware related startups in the last two years a the Bootstrappers Breakfast.

RSVP Button For our Tue-Feb-19 breakfast in Sunnyvale we have invited Bob Mattoon of ISC Networks to kickoff our roundtable discussion with a five minute briefing on tips getting a hardware prototype built and managing the transition to production.

Here is a list of other meetups for hardware startups:

Here are four in the South Bay

Here are three in San Francisco

Between open source hardware, extremely low cost micro-controllers, robotic tool kits, 3D printers, and low cost CAD/CAE tools the cost of creating hardware prototypes continues to drop. There are a number of “hacker spaces” that also devote at least some of their working area to hardware, notably

Recap From Fri-Feb-7 Breakfast in Palo Alto

Here are some of the topics we covered Friday morning February 7 iin Palo Alto:

  • IBM SmartCamp as an opportunity for bootstrappers.
  • Challenges in preparing a catalog of products that leverage 3D printing; related 3D Printing links:
  • Finding early customers and selecting a niche for a new mobile startup
  • Defining a business plan that is not only attractive to customers (e.g. extremely low price per transaction, large selection of features and options), but one that can be bootstrapped, or bootstrapped enough to demonstrate traction that is attractive for investment.
  • Risk identification and risk management in bringing a new medical device to market. One Silicon Valley group to network in is
  • Where to get help rehearsing an investor pitch. The ability to start, even with a lower level of progress or to bootstrap to demonstrate traction allows you to make an investor presentation that “we can go faster without you but we are started now and gaining traction” instead of “we cannot get started without you” or “we will run out of money in a few months unless you fund us.” Some links
  • Events and co-working venues where newcomers can orient to Silicon Valley and network with other entrepreneurs.
  • Meetup
  • Workit Calendar
  • HackerDojo CoWorking
  • TechShop CoWorking
  • SVForum events
  • Startup Jobs

Please note that any links or advice offered is based on remarks from entrepreneurs at one meeting and is not an endorsement by the Bootstrappers Breakfast any particular organization, event, or strategy.