From Bootstrapping to Billions, with Clearbanc Co-Founder and President Michele Romanow

Speaker 1:  All right, so how many people here have started or are looking to start a business? Raise your hand. Almost the entire room. So this next speaker has started a company that is exactly to support folks like you. Michele Romanow is the Co-founder and President of Clearbanc. Clearbanc has lowered the barrier to entry, made it one of the most affordable, easiest ways to get funding for your business. They have a 20 minute term sheet. It has totally flipped us on its head. Michelle is an amazing entrepreneur. She started 5 companies before her 33rd birthday. Two of them had exits before her 30th birthday. She is a dragon on Canada’s hit show Dragon’s Den, which is essentially Canada’s version of Shark Tank, and she is here to talk to you all about bootstrapping to billions. So with no further announcement, Michele Romanow.

Michele Romanow: Thank you. Well, it’s wonderful to be here today. So what I wanted to share with you is my story, my real story. Not the story I hear a lot of other speakers, which is, “It started here, we got to here, and then we were wildly successful,” but the story of how difficult, messy, and unexpected things were along the way. And so the best way I thought of sharing my story is thinking about what I wish I would have known before I found myself on this crazy entrepreneurial path. And I really wish I would have known three things. The first, is that building a business would be messy. So for me to be successful, I would really have to roll up my sleeves and get pretty scrappy. The second thing is that I would have to get out of planning into execution. But all the planning in the world wouldn’t make me successful and certainly wouldn’t prevent me from failure.

And then the final thing that probably took me the longest is that all of my innovation would come from iteration. It wouldn’t come from one massive eureka moment, it would actually come from running hundreds of experiments and then finally something would work. So let’s start with the first one. Scrappy. What is that? That’s finding resources when they don’t seem to exist. That’s constantly turning nos into yeses and it’s the practice of building something from nothing. And I didn’t always know this was something I had, but looking back has played a huge role. So I basically started becoming an entrepreneur while I was in college. It was there that I met my two colleagues in engineering and we spent all of our time playing one game. And that game was What’s The Next Million Dollar Idea?