ALP Seminar 2019

Boot camp, Bootstrap, and Bottom line

Rarzack Olaegbe

No matter how many hours you have spent in a boot camp, you cannot learn how to become a successful entrepreneur. You learn that on the road, on the job, by getting your hands burnt and dirty in real-life scenarios. As such, attending a boot camp, where young people and adults participate in a rigorous and focused schedule in order to gain physical skills, would still not teach you how to bootstrap a company.

At most, a coding boot camp can make your journey a little easier where you would get access to instructors who are industry professionals, and are focused on teaching you the concepts used by technology companies today. I have been involved in some boot camps and the experience was very good. However, beyond the direction a boot camp gives, you would also get some factors that make a boot camp valuable. Excellent material and resources, learning-focused environment, network of talented peers and constant support, access to professionals for technical help and mentorship are what you would get in a boot camp.

Nevertheless, that is where it ends, unless you take it further. It is in deepening the experience that you can learn to boot strap a company, for instance, by working with a profitable company like Systemspecs. Now, bootstrapping is not like boot camping. One offers a set of codes you have to learn and master. The other offers no clue at all. On the one hand, bootstrapping offers no discernible pattern; boot camp gives you a template. That is why most Nigerian fintech startups have gone through the same routes of raising fund.

From Paystacks to Paylater, Flutterwave to MyName, all of them had gone in search of investors and accelerators and they have been successful. But one man has chosen to chart a different route. He has elected not to go ‘cap in hand, rather he preferred to bootstrap his startup and his has become the poster boy of Fintech startup. He has become a huge success in 26 months. He has no investor, no accelerator and no venture capitalist.

He is a boots trapper because he has built his company with little capital. Tosin Eniolorunda, CEO of TeamAmpt, funds his company from personal finances and has become a self-sustaining businessman. Well, it is not magic. Bootstrapping takes a combination of frugal thinking, creativity and planning. He has successfully stretched his limited funds to delight clients, while competing with businesses that have bigger budgets.

In a media interview, Tosin said that the people who made up TeamApt are fundamentalists. According to him the purpose of a business is to create wealth but wealth is not profit. Sometimes, he believes, startups hype promises of profit making to investors in order to get higher valuations. “Hype is not value. Profit is value. Profit with hype is, however, greater value. In the B2B industry that we play, customers are expected to pay for value. We figured if we recycle their payments and do this quickly, we could reach the scale quickly without external funding”.

Tosin said it takes time to raise significant institutional capital in Nigeria and he does not have that time. As such, TeamApt is focused on giving “financial happiness” to its customers, and developing deep “understanding of the customers”. In return, the customers have “rewarded us with millions of dollars of revenue in 26 months without raising a dime from investors”. That – not the hour you have spent in a boot camp – is the bottom line.

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