Bootstrapping Lessons From 37 Signals — The Jason Fried Interview

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A few lessons from this program


Over a million people use the web-based applications that 37 Signals built. Many of them are paying customers. So I called up the company’s co-founder, Jason Fried, and asked him to teach us how 37 Signals does it.

Here are some of my notes from the interview.

You don’t need money

Lack of money, Jason says, forces you to focus on building something that works. It forces you to find ways to earn money, instead of amusing yourself with projects that are just fun or interesting.

Become a teacher

Teaching is 37 Signals’s marketing. It’s what get helped them build the audience that uses their products and generates their revenue. Jason says his company thinks like the top chefs who know that teaching on TV enhances their reputation and builds a following.

Get a voice

37 Signals has one of the most respected blogs in the business, but you don’t have to be a blogger you just need a voice. Find your medium–audio, video, whatever–and let your voice be heard.

Charge for subscriptions

Too many internet entrepreneurs are afraid to charge their users. If 37 Signals didn’t get any new users this month, it would still have revenues because its business is built on a subscription fee.

Be well-rounded

37 Signals hires people who are more than “just programmers,” or “just designers,” or “just” anything else. Jason says that people who cultivate non-work interests can bring in new ideas can bring in new ideas from outside their industries.

Thank you Melvin Ram for introducing me to Jason and suggesting this interview!

Do you have any bootstrapping tips? Tell me by email or in the comments.

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  • http://www.gogreensolar.com Deep Patel

    great interview from a highly admired company. Jason is right, you don’t need a bunch of VC money to get started. Find the most basic, low upfront investment to get started. Today with the internet, the barriers of entry to get your business running are so low. Also, teaching people is key, our business has taken off because we focus on teaching customers about the various applications of the products we sell.

  • http://hotbooketc.blogspot.com/ redclick

    Thank you for your information.
    May I link to your site.

  • http://wallen.typepad.com Wallen’s

    as usual great interview

  • http://www.XOLmarketing.com Alex Carrillo

    I have used BaseCamp for over a year now and always wonder how they build this company. Thank you for the interview, there was very helpful info.

  • Mo

    Hi Andrew,

    I did not download it yet (i am still listening to the others videos!!) But I wanted to make a quick comment about this issue:

    Since:

    1- You teach people by providing these GREAT materials

    2- You provide a great summary of the material in your intro.

    Why don't you follow 37 Signals advice and CHARGE for the full program? I am not sure if people realized the quality of the materials you have here but you could easily charge for this. Even people won't buy the full program, they still get value from the great summary you provide. That summary is also a hell of selling point!

    BUT

    Now of course it real depend on your mission in life and it seems that you are more interested in helping (teaching) entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Still people (who never saw any of the materials) should not have the impression that just because it is FREE it is not worth it or it is crap.

    In any event, I need to watch the all program and I may comment further when I know what I am talking about!

    Thanks.

    Mo.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Mo, you're 100% right to say that.

    I'm trying to add a payment system to this site. I'm actually wresting with
    a membership plug-in for WordPress, but I'm having trouble getting it to
    work.

    I don't expect it to be a huge money-maker, but once I charge for the full
    programs, they'll have a higher perceived value.

    Thanks for asking. If I can get this working, remind me to send you a free
    membership to thank you for all your input.

  • Mo

    You are under 100% welcome!

    Mo.

  • http://twitter.com/purlem Martin Thomas

    I'm Interested in your thoughts.. Does 37signals or E-myth have the right philosophy for business start-ups today? http://www.purlem.com/blog/?p=38

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  • JakeNieuwland

    Hi Andrew, I really appreciate what you do here and am becoming a really big fan of Jason Fried and 37signals, I love how down to earth Jason's philosophies are.

    I'm a freelance web developer and I'm spending my time developing my business skills so I can live on my own terms. I have lots of experience with wordpress and I'd be very keen to help you get a payment system going, to show my appreciation. Let me know how I can help.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Thanks for this Jake!
    Are you free for a call this week? How's 2:30 PM Pacific on Tuesday?

  • JakeNieuwland

    Hi Andrew, I really appreciate what you do here and am becoming a really big fan of Jason Fried and 37signals, I love how down to earth Jason's philosophies are.

    I'm a freelance web developer and I'm spending my time developing my business skills so I can live on my own terms. I have lots of experience with wordpress and I'd be very keen to help you get a payment system going, to show my appreciation. Let me know how I can help.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks for this Jake!
    Are you free for a call this week? How's 2:30 PM Pacific on Tuesday?

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