Sanjay Shah bootstrapped his technology startup from nothing to $250 million in revenue before accepting private equity funding.
Bootstrapping may not be as common as raising big money these days, but it certainly worked out for this entrepreneur. When you can pull it off, it puts you in a much stronger position to choose strategic investors later and can provide a great sense of accomplishment.
I recently interviewed Sanjay for an exclusive episode of the Dealmakers Podcast. He shared his 10,000-mile journey, what he has learned on the way, his unique take on launching a business, and the steps in evolving as an enterprise-level startup.
Getting Out Of Your Bubble
Sanjay Shah was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He says his whole life, including college and family, was centered in a one-mile radius. It was a comfortable bubble, but still a very small bubble.
He decided to jump on the bandwagon, and travel 10,000 miles to attend business school in America.
Coming from a family of accountants, he elected to do his MBA in finance. Then the next logical step was to go work in accounting.
He picked up a job as a staff auditor with PwC right out of school. He lasted a whole six months before realizing that accounting just wasn’t a profession he wanted to be stuck in.
Clearly, it is a very valuable skill to have when starting your own business, just not a very fulfilling career for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
There are many startups that seem to start out very well and gain some success but then fail horrifically because their cash flow and budgets don’t add up. Then everything implodes.
Knowing accounting can be extra beneficial when you are trying to bootstrap your own venture, just don’t get stuck too deep in it.
Sanjay says he wanted to go get some real operational experience before launching his own company.
He applied to General Motors. The only position they would give him in operations was in Canada. He took it. He got to see the inside of the supply chain and how things are built and put together.
Then intrigued by software Shah took a job with SAP as they were beginning their venture into North America. He was one of their earliest employees.
He learned the value of finding cheerleaders for your ideas and spent time in their R&D department at the headquarters in Germany. He even spearheaded their Platinum Consulting division that went out to troubleshoot problems around the globe.
Making The Leap Into Entrepreneurship
He began pitching his own ideas to SAP. They wanted him to work on his projects there in Germany. Sanjay and his family wanted to return to the US.
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