The Startup School For Bootstrapping Founders.

With lessons designed for bootstrapping entrepreneurs, you'll learn to bring your BIG IDEA to market with confidence. Leave your day job behind and begin living your dreams by signing up below.

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Your Instructors

Mike Rispoli

Mike Rispoli

Award-winning designer, engineer and creative technologist that's helped dozens of founders ship their dream product.

Justin Abrams

Justin Abrams

Award-winning marketer, sales leader, and SEO expert that's helped drive millions of dollars in revenue for the world's top brands.

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Learn Enough to Be Dangerous

Plenty of courses exist teaching marketing for marketers and coding for engineers. As an entrepreneur, you need to learn enough to be dangerous at every position and later, find people better than you to take it to the moon.

Derek Jeter may have played shortstop for the Yankees, but he was no slouch at any position. As the head of a tech company, you'll have your specialty, but you'll need to understand every position on the field. Even if for no other reason than to fill in your weaknesses with the right people.

What You'll Learn

Idea Validation

Make sure your idea is as good in the real world as it is in your head before you invest precious time and money.

Inception Marketing

Learn to find your first customers starting from zero and build a marketing machine that turns leads into clients.

Technology Basics

Learn the basics of web development so you can understand the tech behind it and how to bring the idea to life.

Product Development

Learn how to convert a problem into a solution and build a product that people want to use and pay for.

Measuring Success

Learn the core metrics every founder should have a pulse on to determine if their product is in fact, winning.

Scaling Your Startup

Learn to hire the right people and make sure you have the right people on the bus as you grow.

Build Before It's Built

The best entrepreneurs know that the key to success is to work on the right things at the right time. Every book, guru, and course tells you to do this but leave out how to get it done.

This course will bring you actionable steps to help you validate and prototype your big idea as well as when to turn up the heat and scale it.

  • Idea Validation
  • Prototyping & Testing
  • Inception Marketing
  • When to Build an MVP
  • Hiring Tech Teams
  • Tracking Success with Startup Metrics
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What Our Customers Say

We've helped many startups build their products rom the ground up at our startup studio, Cause of a Kind. Here's what they have to say about us.

Course Syllabus

I. Introduction

Getting familiar with the course and the tools we'll be using.

  1. Meet your instructors

    Meet Mike and Justin, award winning technologists and entrepreneurs that are passionate about helping you build your business.

  2. Course Overview

    A complete 30,000 foot view of what you'll be learning in this course.

  3. What is bootstrapping?

    Let's first agree on what bootstrapping is and what it isn't and how it differs from other ways of building a business.

  4. Why bootstrapping?

    A look at why you would consider bootstrapping your business, even if you have the desire to raise venture capital.

II. Finding Your Big Idea

How to find a problem worth solving. We call this inception marketing and it's the research and ideation phase of starting your business.

  1. Identifying problems

    How to identify problems in your life and around you that people are willing to pay to solve.

  2. Google Trends

    This is a great place to begin your research. Is anyone looking for this problem to be solved?

  3. Social media groups

    We'll take a look at how to dive into groups on various social medial platforms like facebook and LinkedIn to see what people are talking about.

  4. Google Maps

    Can you pinpoint your earliest customers? Locational proximity is still a huge advantage when it comes to doing business.

  5. Discussions and forums

    Forums like Quora and Reddit are great places to start looking for people talking about the problem you're looking to solve. There's also tons of niche forums out there that you can dive into.

  6. Search

    Search and primarily google search is at the heart of inception marketing. We can use search to effectively find competitors and see how they are solving the problem and speaking to the market.

  7. Social media tags

    Hashtags on social media are another great place to find conversations around a problem. We'll take a look at how to use hashtags to find these conversations and research into them.

III. Validating Your Idea

You've heard 90% of businesses end in failure. But the reality is most of these businesses should not have started in the first place. Before spending time and money on your idea, you need to validate it.

  1. What is validation?

    Validation consists of a few main parts. One is that a problem exists, two is that people are willing to pay for a solution, and three is that you can reach those people.

  2. Testing a market

    How to test a market to see if people are willing to pay for a solution.

  3. Landing pages

    Every business needs a website, and to look legit to your prospects you'll need to build an effective landing page to capture leads.

  4. Finding prospects

    How to find prospects to validate your idea with and how to reach out to them.

  5. Cold calling

    Demystifying cold calling and how to use it to validate your idea.

  6. Cold emailing

    How to build a list of potential prospects and cold email them for validation.

  7. Paid ads

    Paid ads, whether it be display, search, or social, are a great way to validate your idea and get in front of your target market.

IV. Technology Basics

If you're going to build a software company, you'll need to understand the basics of how things work. If you don't, you'll be at the mercy of those that have this knowledge and will have a hard time making decisions.

  1. What is the internet and how does it work?

    A high level overview of how the internet works and how data is transferred.

  2. Types of applications

    A look at the different types of applications, how they differ, and the pros and cons of each.

  3. Types of applications

    A look at the different types of applications, how they differ, and the pros and cons of each.

  4. Hosting, domains, and SSL

    A deep dive into hosting, domains, DNS, and SSL and how these things work together to make your application available on the internet.

  5. Frontend vs backend

    A look at the frontend and backend of an application and how they work together.

  6. Databases

    A look at what databases are, the types of databases available, and how to choose the right one for your application.

  7. APIs

    API is a term that gets thrown around a lot and can mean different things in different contexts, so let's take a look at what an API is and how it works.

  8. Authentication & Authorization

    What is authentication and authorization and how to ensure safe accesst to your application.

  9. Payment processing

    A look at what payment processing is and how to implement it in your application.

  10. Notifications

    There are many ways to notify and re-engage your users. We'll take a look at email, SMS, push notifications, and webhooks.

  11. Analytics

    Analytics is essential to understanding what your users are doing in your application and whether or not you are providing value to them. We'll take a look at what you'll want to measure and how to do it.

  12. Testing

    Test driven development or TDD is a great way to ensure your application works as expected over time, but it's often one of the the first things to neglected when building a business. We'll take a look at how to implement testing in your application and how to make sure it doesn't get neglected.

  13. Deployment

    Taking a dive into continuous integration and continuous deployment, what they are, and why you'll want this set up right from the start.

V. Designing Your MVP

We have a problem to solve, the tech fundamentals down, and a validated idea. Now it's time to design our minimum viable product.

  1. What is a minimum viable product or MVP?

    A dive into what your MVP is and what it is not.

  2. Do you need an MVP right now?

    A look at whether or not you need an MVP right now or if you should validate your idea further with a prototype.

  3. User story mapping

    Creating a user story map is a great way to visualize your idea and how your solution fits into the lives of your users. It's also a great place to build a central, shared understanding of your product

  4. Demo's, prototypes, tracer rounds, and mockups

    Desigining your application is an important step in the process, but don't get stuck in too many details. At this stage it may be time to return to your prospects and get feedback and ideally get paid for your idea before we go into MVP mode.

  5. Building a prototype that feels real

    A common misstep for entrepreneurs is to build a flat mockup as a prototype and ask friends and family for feedback. To get true validation at this stage we need a product that feels real and that real users can use and pay for. We'll take a look at how to build a prototype that feels real and how to get feedback from real users.

  6. Refine your idea

    From the feedback we've received from our prototype it's time to refine our idea and ensure we're building something people want to pay for.

  7. Pricing your product

    A long overlooked step in the product development process is how to price your product and develop the right pricing model for you business.

VI. Building Your MVP and Managing Tech Teams

Now that we've received more feedback and more validation, we can move forward with our MVP with the confidence that we're building something people want to pay for.

  1. When to hire a team

    It's at this stage that you may be looking to hire a team. If you have techincal experience, you can likely build an MVP yourself, but if not, you may be looking to hire a team. We'll take a look at when you should hire a team and how to go about it.

  2. Writing user stories

    We return to our user story map and begin writing user stories for our MVP. Learn to write user stories that pack a punch, remove ambiguity, and get your team on the same page.

  3. Minimum viable brand

    At this stage it's time to give your business a bit more of an identity. Most founders spend entirely too much time thinking about this at this stage. We'll teach you how to craft what we call your minimum viable brand to look professional without getting bogged down.

  4. Tech frameworks and production tools

    A quick overview of popular frameworks and production level tools that will help you build your MVP faster and more efficently.

  5. Effective project management

    Waterfall vs. agile vs. scrum vs. kanban. There are many project management methodologies out there, but which one is right for you? We'll take a look at the pros and cons of each and how to choose the right one for your team.

  6. Hiring a team

    Hiring a tech team when you've never done it before can be a daunting task. We'll take a look at how to hire a team and what to look for in a team.

  7. Release day

    It's time to get your MVP into the hands of your users. We'll take a look at how to launch a beta release and how to ensure you keep a continuous feedback loop with your early adopters.

VII. Marketing and Selling Your MVP

You're launched and live, but now what? You have some early adopters, but how do you get more? We'll take a look at how to market and sell your MVP now that you're a full fledged business.

  1. Cold outreach 2.0

    So you've got some skills built up from validating your idea and building your MVP. Now it's time to kick it into high gear and start selling. We'll take a look at how to do cold outreach 2.0 and how to get your first 100 customers.

  2. Building a brand

    Building a brand is more than just a logo and a tagline. When it comes to brand building, much of this is going to come from the hearts and minds of your customers. We'll take a look at how to build a brand that comes from, and resonates with, your customers.

  3. Referral marketing

    Referral marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. We'll take a look at how to build a referral program that works.

  4. Affiliate marketing

    Affiliate marketing is fast becoming one of the best ways to grow your business if it's ripe for it. We'll take a look at when and how to build effective affiliate programs.

  5. Email newsletters

    Email newsletters are the great constant of the internet, a staple of any great marketing program. We'll take a look at how to build an effective email newsletter that converts.

  6. Sales basics

    To be a great entrepreneur you need to be a great salesperson. There's no way around this. We'll take a look at the basics of sales and how to become great at selling your product.

  7. Building a sales team

    When to build a sales team is a common dilemma for any founder. We'll do a deep dive into what a technology sales team looks like and when it's time to build yours.

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