If you told anyone who doesn’t have entrepreneurial blood in them that you can launch a tech startup company with almost no cash, they wouldn’t believe you.
“That’s like creating something out of nothing!” they’d say. “No way!”
But you’re different — you know that it is possible to do great things with very little. The only problem is that you don’t know how right now. That’s something I’m going to solve in this article.
Who am I? My name is Aljaz Fajmut, and I founded my latest startup — Nightwatch — a few years ago. It’s essentially a scaled-up version of our other tool, RankTrackr, a more simple SEO rank tracker. Nightwatch is more complicated, more sophisticated, and has more features to help companies with their SEO efforts. But when I initially conceived the idea and launched the app, I was probably as low on funds as you are now.
I had no cash savings to pump into Nightwatch and yet the company now has a monthly revenue of $35,000 and is growing all the time.
I’ve learned a lot along the way. Here is how to launch a tech startup company with (almost) no funds.
If you don’t have money, at least have time
Time really is key.
When I first started developing Nightwatch, I had no cash set aside, but since I’m a developer, I at least knew that putting together an initial prototype wouldn’t take too long.
However, there were setbacks that I hadn’t predicted. Building and maintaining the app took a lot longer than expected, and I had miscalculated how long it would take to maintain the code for retrieving the data from Google.
Then there came a point when we realised that we had to abandon the framework we were using at first and move over to Ember.js. This took more time.
We also had to hire new developers after our core developer left due to disagreements.
None of this helped our momentum, but the point is that you will face setbacks and delays just like all tech companies do. And you need to be prepared for them. If you don’t have a lot of cash, at least have enough time to save yourself when something goes wrong.
If you start big from the get-go with no cash, I can tell you now that you’re heading for trouble.
As I mentioned earlier, Nightwatch is a scaled-up version of RankTrackr, a tool that has a lot fewer features. Starting with something small allowed us to succeed at a time when we didn’t have a lot of cash.
This is something you can do, too. Simplify things at the start. Launch a single, scaled-down product and define your target audience as narrowly as possible.
Then, once the idea begins to take off and you start developing momentum, you can build and scale.
Sell before you’ve even got a product
In fact, why start small with one product a service? Why not start with no product at all?
This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. What you’re doing is accepting pre-orders for your service or product. Let me explain…
Let’s say that you’ve got an awesome idea for a product that’s in the works. It’s not yet ready for release but it isn’t too far off.
As you have no funds (or at least, you’ve got very few funds) you could really do with some cash to launch your product.
As such, you could get in touch with your target market, pitch your idea, ask who’s interested — and then start taking pre-orders.
The catch for them is that they get a good discount when the product is launched. The catch for you is you get some money in the bank to cover your launch.
Source talent wisely
Since you’ve not got much $$$ right now, you’re hardly going to be able to hire a world-class developer from Silicon Valley, but you can still afford to hire an overachieving developer or even a whole team.
I got lucky in that I’m a developer myself who was able to work on my own apps. If you’re the same, brilliant. However, you will still need outside help, be it in the form of a co-founder or other team members.
Finding a co-founder who is on your level doesn’t need to be too hard. Pop along to networking events in your area and see who’s around.
When it comes to hiring a developer, you probably won’t have the funds needed to pay someone a salary. In which case, you could offer them an equity-based solution. In fact, you can do the same with any co-founder you get onboard.
Be aggressive with your marketing
Lastly, having no cash does put you at something of a disadvantage when it comes to marketing, but it’s not the end of the world. For now, you need to be creative and aggressive with your marketing, and you need to adopt guerrilla marketing tactics.
This means first and foremost identifying where your target market is online. They could be in Facebook groups, Subreddits on Reddit, and so on.
Then, join these communities, assimilate and make yourself — and your product — known.
There are other things you can do. For example, visit sites like Hacker News and Product Hunt. These sites are free to use and allow you to launch your products.
All in all, it’s possible to launch a tech startup with almost no funds — you just need to be creative, cute, and clever. Ask for help, make sure time is on your side, and start small.