Dyn has been a bootstrapped company and profitable from day one. We get a lot of questions on how we pulled this off, and while I would love to claim all the credit, there’s nothing really magical about our success. We started as an open-source, community-led project, found a need, and grew a company around it — fueled by a lot of hard work and many sleepless nights.
But when we incorporated in 2001, things weren’t pretty. We had never thought about funding, and since we were in college, we asked our customers to bankroll us. Actually, we said that the project would get shut down unless we were able to raise our $25,000 goal. When $40,000 came in, we knew we were on the hook.
We’ve grown and been profitable year over year. Now we’re eight years removed from my college graduation, have 150 people, and service some of the best Internet companies — plus 4 million customers — all over the world. We’ve learned a lot along the way, and there are a few tips that we can pass along.
1. Start with something you love.
Don’t be afraid to start small. We started with a little project that helped us access papers off our dorm room computers so we could escape walking through the cold to get to a lab printer. This is also how you understand the market/product fit and who is an ideal customer. By pursuing something personal, you understand the pain and the value that you can deliver in a product.
2. Spread the word and get others involved.
It’s easier than ever to get people to see projects and other ideas and to get public momentum behind them. Kickstarter, Twitter, Facebook, and Angel.co are great ways to do just that. You’ll want to get people using your service. We were free at the time (which was pretty unique) and enlisted a core group of volunteers who served as our initial customer support staff.
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