Why Bootstrapped Tech Startups Don’t Get Credit for Innovation

Often, when a new company launches, with big money backing it (think $1 million), the press and media jump all over it for an interview. And then something horrible happens. The company founders say something that they believe is true, when in fact it is not. A great example is when co-founder of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe stated in an article I read recently, that her new app Bumble is the first dating app that offers in-app photo messaging. My question is: How can this be true if my tech startup has been doing this since late 2013 before Bumble was even a concept?

The simple answer is, Ms. Wolfe has money and fame backing her. She was one of four co-founders of Tinder, and she doesn’t live in the real world of bootstrapped tech startups. Think about it this way, if Bumble didn’t have Wolfe as the founder, and money backing it, do you think it would be successful or in the press and media at all? Probably not.

Unfortunately for tech startups who just can’t raise money, they are forced to watch all of the funded companies grow their companies and release feature after feature, very quickly. Bootstrappers may have 10 versions of their app ready to go, with screenshots, mockups, workflow documents, wireframes, etc. But in order to fully develop these they would have to be able to afford a large programming team. Most tech startups only have a handful of developers, and sometimes less. So although the true innovators are the tech startups who don’t have funding behind them, the world never knows about them because of the lack of funding. This results in lack of media attention, and lack of public awareness to their brilliant, and disruptive ideas.

So should these big, well-funded companies get all the credit when they launch a new feature or a new platform? Probably not, but they should definitely get credit for having some sort of connection to an investor, or a family friend who was rich, or the ability to convince people to give them money to launch their product. So the next time a big company launches a new product and says they are the first to do something, I will agree with them and so should you, on one point: They are the first to convince an investor to give them money for an idea that was already done by a bootstrapped tech startup who does not have any funding.



Jason Sherman

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