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(Video) How we bootstrapped a 10,000 customer business

December 12, 2018

In this video, our founders talk about starting a bootstrapped business and the challenges they faced.

Some notable quotes:


We lived together in an apartment in Mountain View, and then upgraded to a house in Palo Alto. So, for the first couple of years we were living together. I think it set this baseline of interaction. Even something as basic as a disagreement at work — you can’t just go home. You’re living together! You have to actually solve problems quickly.


Very early on, we started graphing our revenue. Every day. We’d send an email to the entire team every day. Then we could see ‘Ok! We can afford rent now.’ Then ‘Ok! We can afford food.’ ‘Ok! We can take a stipend, or we can afford to hire someone.’ I encourage everyone to do the same.


We established this culture (in the house) and this relationship with each other. Then Zac went off to Ann Arbor. We already had this connection we could leverage to then hire from anywhere. With Aaron Wilson as our first hire way out remote on his farm, that established this ability to get work done, have fun together (on chat), and pull the best people — no matter where they are.


The thing that really stands out was the first time I realized people were using our product. Not only were they using it, but it was a big part of their lives. I met with a customer and talked to their support reps. Their whole job was to be on Olark. It was a Wow! moment


I think one big thing that helped us succeed was the realization that it’s never too early to make a change. When we were getting started, there was a sense of ‘this is all we can do. We’ll find time for the rest later.’ When you are part of a startup, there’s never time to do things later. If there’s some change you want to make — organizationally, to the product for the customers — Don’t wait! Make sure you make it happen as soon as possible.


Live chat as it is today has a pretty crowded market. It didn’t seem like a sexy or glamourous problem to be solving. We were always surrounded by people pushing us away from that. They had something more exciting or more interesting to solve. I didn’t feel that sentiment at all. I thought it was a really interesting problem to solve. And it was one that could make a huge difference so we stayed the course. Years later, we have made a difference. And that’s pretty cool.

Come see the folks currently making Olark on our Team Page