I answered a question on the Philly Startup Leaders mailing list and thought that an edited version that doesn’t need the thread context would also be a good blog post.

Our experience with the Bootstrappers Breakfasts® in other cities is that peer discussions moderated by a volunteer so that a table of 8-20 entrepreneurs have one conversation can provide a lot of support to bootstrappers at very low cost. Drawing on unconference and community of practice models, it’s often better to have folks suggest the topics that they are wrestling with. There are risks of “sharing ignorance” but a diversity of opinion will almost always overcome that, and hearing someone else voice your same concern allows you to learn from their situation as well your own:

  • Sometimes that distance can lend perspective that’s extremely valuable.
  • It’s very rare that there is only one right way or even one best way that an entrepreneur should manage an issue that’s on the table.
  • There is also clearly value in having more experienced entrepreneurs and other experts at the table.

What we have found with the Bootstrapper Breakfast”s model of a single serious conversation on entrepreneurship is that serial entrepreneurs are also attracted to the conversation and take part freely, contributing overall to the mix.

I am not arguing against the “mastermind model” where you have a experienced consultant facilitating a conversation among a group of entrepreneurs who have committed to meet together for a period of time, just that facilitated peer to peer advice that’s more ad hoc can also provide a lot of value, especially to folks who are just starting out.


Starting in 2010 we expanded to Minneapolis and San Diego. If you like “eating problems for breakfast” and are interested in bringing the Bootstrappers Breakfast® to your city please contact us: one of the first steps we will ask you to take is to find the time to visit at least one breakfast so you can get a sense of what’s involved. Another is to look for at least one more person who can act as a moderator who can assist you, both as a backup and preferably with complementary skills and experience. Moderator positions are volunteer and require facilitation skills and a demonstrated passion for entrepreneurship.