Bootstrapping: The Key to Sweet Success


How does an entrepreneur go about getting a new business off the ground? We'll explore that question in the series "UPstarts" by presenting the stories of Texas entrepreneurs, with commentary on their experiences by McCombs experts in entrepreneurship, as well as a number of resources for budding entrepreneurs.

First upstart: Elayne Crain. When she decided to strike out on her own, Crain knew she wanted a company that was all hers. Foregoing investors, she's bootstrapping Austin Sugarworks, her new company that sells specialty sculpted sugars.

In this video, Crain shares stories from the first few months of her start-up, with commentary and analysis from the McCombs School of Business' entrepreneur-in-residence Louise Epstein. Related resources can be found further down the page.

Famous Bootstrappers

What is bootstrapping?

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In this Lingo video, finance maestro Jim Nolen explains the concept of "bootstrapping'" a start-up and why people who want to be their own boss try to avoid venture capital for as long as possible.

While there is no single clear-cut way to get a bootstrap enterprise off the ground, there are many resources available to those looking for guidance. We’ve gathered some of the best websites, articles, books, and multimedia to get you ready for your adventure in bootstrapping.

Mentioned in this Article

Jim Nolen

Distinguished Senior Lecturer (retired), Department of Finance McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin

Jim Nolen received his BBA and MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. Until his retirement in May 2012, he taught both undergraduate and...

Jim Nolen teaches in the Texas Executive Education program, featuring open enrollment, custom and certificate classes for executives and organization teams.

About the Author

Kristen Maxwell

Digital Media Producer, McCombs School of Business

I tell stories with moving pictures and sound. Everything else is just details.


#1 Apart from being an efficient

Apart from being an efficient business model, bootstrapping seems to be a point of pride, a badge of courage, almost a romantic attachment for bootstrappers. I wonder if bootstrappers continue to feel that way about it after they 'graduate' to more money, a bigger team. Do bootstrappers have the same romantic nostalgia that old couples do about the good old days when they had a lot of love w/o much money? Or are they just glad to be done with bootstrapping?

#2 I will say that as a DIY

I will say that as a DIY musician with a day job, I have a love/hate relationship with bootstrapping. I love having to be resourceful and creative. I hate having to do everything on a shoestring and have to make up for lack of money by taking much longer to do it all myself. I look forward to graduating to more support but not forgetting to be resourceful and frugal.

#3 I was in Gary Hoover's

I was in Gary Hoover's entrepreneurs class with Elayne Crain last semester and I can tell you she has the "it" factor. Bootstrapping is a great way to start a company. It really doesn't take much other than wits and connections (assuming you have an amazing supportive spouse like mine, that is). And just in case you are a bootstrapper reading this, here's a free tip. Go to and register for Michael Katz's enewsletter. It's just great guidance that really works and costs next to nothing. After you have been following Michael for a few months, feel free to email me to let me know your thoughts at Cheers y'all, Dave Jobe