Bedroom Startups

Posted by: Nick Leiber on April 17, 2009

Michelle Conlin wrote about startup founders living together to save cash in the wonderful BTW section of this week’s magazine. We’re reposting her piece here to make sure our blog readers don’t miss it. Enjoy!

popup_0917_10btw2.jpg The latest cost-slashing trend for the geekerati? Taking a page from the past (think Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard) and bunking together to get their startups off the ground. According to adherents, “going lightweight” cuts monthly expenses by up to two-thirds. “We looked at the economy and said, ‘This is the right thing for us to do,’” says Adam Bouhenguel, who lives in a “super-geeked-out” Boston apartment with Josh Wilson, his co-founder at Tsumobi.com, a maker of social networking software for mobile devices. Also in Boston are Dan Haubert, 25, and Tom Davis, 24, who moved in together to launch TicketStumbler.com, which aims to be the Expedia of sports and concert tickets. The “ugly dump,” says Haubert, lets them “live and run a business on a few thousand a month.” Then there’s Marcus Nelson, 37, who co-founded UserVoice.com, an online suggestion box. Last year, Nelson, his wife, Emily, and their two children moved from Wasau, Wis., to a Santa Cruz (Calif.) beach bungalow with partner Richard White, 28. “We sleep with our laptops,” says Nelson, who estimates that monthly expenses come to $15,000, a third of what they might be with separate living and office spaces. Are venture capitalists taking note of such frugalities? Longtime Silicon Valley angel investor Ron Conway says he is: “I love to invest in scrappy entrepreneurs.”

Illustration: Wesley Bedrosian

Reader Comments

Richard

April 18, 2009 10:22 AM

I myself, am doing the very same thing. Long story short: I made a fortune in Internet marketing, lost it all in realestate and now I'm starting over from zero. I see a trend emerging and I'm going after it with little more than obsession, a business and technical skill set and a founded belief that what I'm doing will ultimately be a game changer in my vertical.

One of the hardest aspects of the bootstrap lifestyle (I guess you could call it that) is explaining your motives to your friends and family. They want to know why you have little or nothing to show for 8 months of 100+ hour weeks. They often ask me "How do you wake up in the morning". I usually just smile and pitch them on the business. Then I explain how I think about the project first thing in the morning and what it's going to look like when it's done and how its users will interact with it and then how its going to generate piles of cash. When I get to the cash part they seem to get it.

It all comes down to opportunity cost and the most finite resource we possess is time and of course the time is always now.

Ben

April 18, 2009 11:07 AM

$15,000 a month!? You know, you could be running your startup from a mansion in eastern washington fort that kind of money. Or at least a nice office with a few employees up here. I do not understand the draw of so-cal when it comes to bootstrapping a startup.

Carmen Villadar

April 18, 2009 5:32 PM

What a brilliant idea. Creative living while riding out the tough times. What I admire most are the compromises and sacrifices that these people make - while they pursue their dreams. Kudo's to their *significant others* for supporting these delicate times. VC's should appreciate the positive action of "cost saving". Thanks for this post.

Alex Torrenegra

April 20, 2009 12:47 AM

We are doing a similar thing, but not to save money. Instead, we are doing it to save time. We are six developers coding 24×7 (minus sleeping time) for over three months. We are living together in an undisclosed location so that nobody bothers us. We even have live video so that our families don't miss us that much: http://alexander.letmego.com/2009/02/18/the-letmego-immersion/

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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