Adam Freedman, Founder of ThisIsWhyImBroke, Chats About Lean Bootstrapping
ThisIsWhyImBroke is a website that lists cool random stuff that the staff of the website have found in the vast internet shopping world. First thing I need to say about this company: awesome name. Second thing: I was immediately distracted by their website and could probably spend hours on it.
On the landing page I spotted a hanging tent (sort of like a combo tent/hammock thing) and earrings shaped like ears. Both of these things totally sparked my imagination and made me wish I had way more money than I ever will make as a freelance writer.
Adam Freedman took some time out of his crazy busy work day to talk to us about what makes his company so cool. Check it.
How long have you been involved with the internet? What were your first steps?
I’ve been an internet geek for as long as I can remember. I was building websites on Geocities in the 90s when I was around 12 years old. I read lots of guides on the internet on how to build websites, and as I got older I tried building websites for profit, all of them were failures, but each time I learned something useful.
What time do you usually start work each day?
I used to start each day at 8AM and stop around midnight. Nowadays I start around 10AM and stop around 6PM.
Do you have an office or work at home?
It’s a home office, but we’re moving into an office/warehouse at the end of the month. Which is great, because this home office is extremely crowded.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
I originally was going to call it ShutUpAndTakeMyMoney.com, after the famous Futurama saying, but the domain name was taken. I racked my brain for a bit and nearly went with “I’llTakeTen.com”, but figured that sounded horrible (oddly, somebody heard about this name from another interview and decided to start IllTakeTen.com), and somehow winded up with ThisIsWhyImBroke.com.
I honestly don’t remember what led me to come up with that name, perhaps I’d heard someone say it joking.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
It started just as a hobby site by myself, but within a few months it was two employees, and now we have six employees.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
I had a lot of ideas, and a lot of inexperience in running a big website. The web server struggled to stay up much of the time due to high levels of traffic, there were some major issues with people trying to steal the website (like take ownership from us), and in general we just hadn’t perfected the formula to the website’s success.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a role model, but I’ve always admired people with online businesses, and it’s something I’ve wanted to have for nearly a decade. The idea of a low overhead cost, internet based business that I was in charge of just seemed like my dream job.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
The beauty of ThisIsWhyImBroke is the overhead costs are very small. Since we originally didn’t sell/ship anything ourselves, we only referred customers to 3rd party websites and took a commission on product sales, the only real cost we had in the beginning was webhosting fees.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Cut out all the unnecessary stuff til you’ve already made it. So many startups I read about seem to take investors’ money and waste a big chunk of it on fancy offices and equipment.
I’m a minimalist, so I keep all business costs as low as possible until we absolutely need to expand.
For example, we now carry product lines and sell them ourselves (via our Amazon storefront account), and after my house became literally overflowing with boxes [I decided] that it’s time to move into a modestly sized warehouse.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 US to spend?
I’d hire a team of programmers and graphic designers and try to make a Zombie MMO video game. I’ve always wanted to build a game like that.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I do consider myself successful, but I’m not satisfied with the level I’m at right now. I really want ThisIsWhyImBroke to be a household name – I want to be the site to go for awesome gift ideas.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
Hah, there’s a couple. Google Analytics, Photoshop, PunyPNG (image compression software), and Pandora/Turntable.fm
Dogs or cats?
Both. I have a 16 year old [cat] who refuses to age, and a brown and shaggy Shih-Tzu that looks like Chewbacca (named Chewy, of course)
iOS or Android?
Android. I’m not a fan of Apple’s proprietary ways, though I do think they make a great product.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
I’m my own boss, and all the hard work I put in builds toward something I gain from.
Where can our readers get ahold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog?
I don’t care for personal blogs or having fans subscribe to my personal Facebook account, but you can always reach me at the e-mail mail [at] thisiswhyimbroke.com, along with our Facebook (we answer messages there too).