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Bootstrap Fireside Chats – Jay Williams, Co-Founder & CEO, Carbon Code Solutions

Founded in 2020, CarbonCode Solutions is an award nominated software development business servicing clients in the UK and Europe. Entirely bootstrap built, their Co-Founder Jay Williams sat down with us for the latest instalment of our Bootstrap Fireside Chats series to tell us about the learnings from their journey.

Take it away Jay!

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

I’m Jay Williams, CEO and Co-founder of CarbonCode solutions LTD, we are a boutique software development agency specialising in custom software for startups and SMEs. We work with startups all the way to fully established SMEs in the education sector. I founded CarbonCode in 2020 with my Co-founder and CTO Louis Gardner.

Why did you decide to bootstrap your venture, rather than opt to raise investment?

We decided bootstrapping was the best option because we wanted to prove that the business could stand on its own two feet, and the best way to do that was by putting our money where our mouth is. Bootstrapping has provided a skillset I think some investment backed founders lack, a skillset developed out of a laser focus from day one to keep the business alive, and bills paid.

Tell us about those first few years, how the business grew and some of the top challenges you faced getting the venture off the ground organically.

Tumultuous, being totally candid these first three years have proved to be the most stress filled of my life! Firstly, due to the pressure of supporting multiple livelihoods but secondly because of the continued year on year growth we have seen.

Every mistake has turned into an opportunity for us, something we had to overcome or face failure, and we are not about failure. Each lesson learned seemed to yield a new client, one more prestigious than the next and the clients we already had benefitted from the learning experiences we gained through those little mistakes.

Looking back, are you happy you chose to build this way, and why?

That’s an interesting question, yes bootstrapping was the only way we could make this a success, if I’d had someone else’s money in the early days I would have done things very differently, so differently that I dare say we’d have failed.

If you were speaking with a potential founder who thinks bootstrapping is not an option for them, what would you say and what are the first steps?

Bootstrapping is always the answer, investment shouldn’t be the first thought, if it is you don’t believe in your own idea. Be brave, step up and work smart. Not everything needs to cost thousands and reinvest everything back into your business as it grows.

What was the most surprising advantage of bootstrapping that you didn’t know beforehand?

Freedom, without investors you are free to do as you please. Of course this can be dangerous, but it’s like DIY, if you get it wrong it’s just you who really notices and you’re able to rectify those errors without someone else’s money being on the line.

Is there something we haven’t asked you which we should, or any final advice you’d like to offer those who are deciding to make the leap?

Nothing you haven’t asked, but to wrap up, here’s my story in summary. I started with £100, turned that in to £37,000, turned that in to £116,000 and we are on target to turn that in to £300,000. All it takes is a great team, really hard work, a smidge of luck, and faith in yourself.