For your startup to succeed, are you prepared to survive Ramageddon – devote your time and resources to your company so completely that you eat nothing but Ramen while toiling nonstop? Be honest. It’s gut-check time, because entrepreneur John Chalmer is living testament to the unstoppable force working to realize your vision first if you lack conviction.
Chalmers’s newest company is Has Coupons, which offers…lots and lots of coupons. He’s determined to transform Internet advertising. To build his coupon platform and make good deals easy for customers to find, he’s put his mind and body, spirit, and everything he’s made of to the test. Here he gives KillerStartups readers a better sense of his hardcore, bootstrapping ethic.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
Originally the name of the company was called HasOfferz.com, which I still own. I am selling this to www.hasoffers.com for about $12,000. So I then needed a new name. I did a domain search for HasCoupons, and it was taken. I called the cellphone number from the who is database and bought it for $100.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
The first thing I do every day is check advertising stats to see where the cash is, and instant message all my co workers (as we are a small team) and all friends. Then I get coffee and start tackling my inbox. I get about 1000 emails a day.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I started the company by myself. However, I didn’t know how big the project actually was until the prototype came. We have a 4 person core team–without them this site would not be here. There are 4 employees, and occasional 1099 contracts.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
The early days, wouldn’t be believable, I like to think of it as Ramageddon. I ate ramen, put every minute I had into internet companies, made a garage into and office, and had 10 people cold calling for sales while living with 2 roommates. It was rough.
Struggle is following your dreams, period. No one will believe in you and the amount of sacrifice it takes to make something of yourself is unbearable. You will lose everything you love in the process in hope to get it all back when you are done.
How do you handle frustration?
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We work remotely.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
30 million dollars a year.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
Ryan Eagle is a great inspiration. I’m a call of duty expert. Energy drinks and beer are good.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
Working 2 jobs 80 hrs a week.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Work hard, I’m talking 1 hour of sleep hard. There is always someone out there who is more hungry, make sure your work ethic rivals that.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
Realistically, travel and visit all my friends from when I was younger. Unrealistically, time travel, because money can’t fix the past.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Not currently. That would involve me moving out of my mothers basement.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Tmz, and affbuzz.com.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Coin flip, it makes my most important decisions.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
Italy or Greece
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
We followed our dreams, and it may make us wealthy.
Favorite type of music? Hot songs right now?
Rap, and DJ Khaled’s new CD is currently in my car.
Has Coupons / John Chalmers