“Boostraper” according to Baron Münchhausen

Dany Marquis

Some time ago, Baron Münchhausen, a German officer and mercenary in the pay of the Russian army, was entrusted with a most secret mission by none other than Elizabeth I of Russia. During his journey filled with the most marvelous feats, there is one particularly surprising one that I would like to share with you.

This happened in Crimea, in the south of Ukraine, while the baron was valiantly riding in pursuit of a troop of the Turkish army of the Ottoman Empire, when he fell into a pit filled with viscous and sticky mud which the Turks had covered with dead leaves.
It was impossible to avoid it because the subterfuge had been so careful.

And there was the baron completely stuck in mud up to his waist, still sitting on his horse which was up to his ears in it. After taking a few seconds to calmly analyze the situation, Baron Münchhausen hugged his horse with his thighs as it struggled to breathe, its muzzle in the air protruding a few centimeters. The man firmly grabbed the straps of his boots and pulled with all his strength, screaming the rage he felt towards the Turks. He thus extricated himself with a single blow from the pit, gave a few encouraging pats on the rump of his brood and set off again in pursuit of the Turkish Army, now frozen with fear upon hearing the baron's howl.

This is where the expression comes from bootstrapper (boot strap in English). Some will say that the term comes partly from the world of start-ups in software, where a boostrap was a small piece of software that started a larger one. They're not entirely wrong, but I prefer the Baron's story. This version has a miraculous aspect and more exciting than the image of programmers hunched over their computers in a grim basement. Because everyone knows that programmers all work in sinister basements.

So, whether you are, like me, a supporter of the baron, or even programmers, the idea behind it, the philosophy of bootstrapping returns to the classic: “do more with less” now to do much, much more later.

Companies that bootstrap , wish to attract large investors by demonstrating the extraordinary potential of their company with convincing presentations of immediate operational profitability. Presenting your project when you are passionate is often very natural. However, achieving immediate profitability, regardless of the type of project, is an extreme sport.

So, “do more with less”, but in a more positive, more sporty, even miraculous version.

In the field of business start-ups, we are used to seeing large projects, supported by the government and local organizations, and for which politicians and the media will be there on opening day. You will agree with me that this formula has not really benefited Gaspésie in the past. We can see several corpses of great companies full of promise for sale when we go around. So you will understand that I am a supporter of start-ups and that I feel a bit like an evangelist on a mission when I talk about them. In my opinion, there should be more, and we should be as excited by this approach as by the prowess of a local sports team.

Unlike the big project which starts financed to the maximum, bootstrapper means starting a business with the minimum of financing, with the aim of propelling it later by attracting investors. Because, when it comes to financing, believe me, starting with deep pockets is not necessarily ideal. In fact, starting small and optimizing your resources is a good way to build a foundation for rapid growth.

Recently, a lady who predicted the closure of my business a few years ago asked me how I was able to get out of my liquidity crisis. Well ma'am, I hugged my horse with my thighs, grabbed the straps of my boots and pulled as hard as possible while screaming my rage against those who had refused me the financing I needed. Once out of the hole, I thanked those who had told me no, because without them, I would never have believed it possible that one could get out of a mud hole by pulling on one's boot straps.

Danny Marquis

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