Here are my notes on Liz Fraley’s briefing on “Bootstrapping an expertise-enabled startup” at the Tue-Feb-21 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale.

Elizabeth Fraley, CEO of Single-Sourcing Solutions & TC Camp offered her perspective on bootstrapping her business. Liz Fraley founded Single Sourcing Solutions in 2005 with a team of experts who understood “single-sourcing” or the creation of multiple versions of complex technical content from a master document. In 2007 they formally aligned with Arbortext to deliver dynamic information product delivery systems.

Liz shared her experiences managing a team of experts offering complex solutions in a demanding and dynamic environment.

Some Key Observations on Her Entrepreneurial Journey

  • Life as value added reseller is like watching professional hockey: every year there is a new team that suits up to support you. The jerseys are the same but it’s different people.
  • Be prepared to explain how you add value to your partners and prepare for turnover in their field and partner personnel.
  • As engineer and technical professional she had to learn how to hire and manage sales professionals.
  • She learned that sales is hard in different ways from solving technical problems but it’s a profession in it’s own right.
  • You have to learn how to translate between business concerns and technical issues.

Bootstrapping An Expertise-Enabled Startup

  • Identify and align: it’s easy as a small firm to get blown in different directions by opportunities so it’s important to know yourself–your team’s strengths and weaknesses–and to know your customer.
  • Who do you want to serve? How do you translate their needs and constraints into products and services that you offer?
  • You need to match your strengths with customer needs by starting with the customer’s situation.
  • You need to recognize when you need to develop new capabilities or new offerings to provide a better match with customer requirements.
  • Nothing stands still: you have to evolve as your environment evolves. This means experimenting and learning from failures and successes: however unexpected either were. Always have a plan so that you can exploit your successes but be prepared to adapt it to what you learn as you go.
  • Getting smarter is optional, but then so is survival.

Some Background on Liz Fraley

  • BS Computer Science, BA and MA English
  • Founded two companies, one a non-profit
  • Board member for 3 non-profits
  • Products: TC Camp (unconference),  TC Dojo (user-driven webinar series), Arbortext Monster Garage (advanced techniques community webinar series), and an Arbortext On-Demand video series, TC Dojo Conclave
  • Provides active support for the Arbortext user groups (Meetup, Facebook, LinkedIn)
  • Publications: paper, two books, 1 ebook

On-line Profiles

Links for activities and initiatives