Also known as self-capitalization, this is how most start-ups actually capitalize themselves. Sources of bootstrap capital include: soft capital (Mom/Dad/Rich Uncle Buck), home equity loans, supplier credit, consulting, credit cards, retainers, deposits, progress payments, receivables factoring, partners, sponsorships, guarantors, pre-sales, launch clients and more. Bootstrap capital allows the ownership to keep control of their own enterprises and not lose them to VCs and other debt or equity holders.
“Two former students decide to start a home building business. They have no capital so they: 1. find a friendly landowner who allows them to set up shop in a field and pre-sell homes with no money up front to the landowner (who gets paid when the homes sell); 2. they pre-sell 10 homes and take deposits of $20,000 per home so now they have $200,000 in their bank account; 3. they get 90 and 120 day terms from their suppliers so that the suppliers also get paid when the homes sell; 4. they take their 10 Agreements of Purchase and Sale and pledge those to the Bank for a LOC (effectively borrowing their clients' credit scores). After two years, they have $800,000 in the Bank and own 100% of the business. This example demonstrates five sources of bootstrap capital: supplier credit, pre-sales, launch clients, deposits and guarantors.”