Mr. Matthew Ley: Welcome to Boot Strap: Insights for the Self-Funded Entrepreneur with Frank Cianciulli. My name is Matthew Ley, and as always, I will be your host. Today marks the start of season two of Boot Strap. That’s right; we’re back. We had a lot of really positive feedback and a lot of questions from all you entrepreneurs who have been watching. Some of the key questions we hope to answer this year is more of a dive into the finance side of being a bootstrap operation, as well as giving a little more color, some stories about Frank’s last 15 years in business that informed some of the ideas we shared with you last year. All right, with that out of the way let’s get started. Frank, thanks for having me back for Boot Strap.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Well, it’s great to be back.
Mr. Matthew Ley: So we did get some great feedback. What are the things that you heard after we released the series last year?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Well, I heard a lot of positive feedback, and what was most reassuring and exciting was the varying, you know, people from all different types of backgrounds that gave me some feedback, whether it was, you know, an entrepreneur who was just kind of getting off the ground, or someone who was scaling their business very quickly, to very large business owners got some value out of it.
Mr. Matthew Ley: We even got some from employees at other companies.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: We did, and/or, you know, I’d be interviewing a candidate for a role at Wish Group and say oh, you know, I caught those videos and it was really — you know, I shared with my spouse, or my friend, or a gentleman who runs [sp] a business. So yeah, it was great to hear that people are getting value because that’s the whole point. We’re hoping someone gets value out of these.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Exactly. You know the one thing I heard — I mean I talked to our PR guys, and they were talking about how this really is unique. There’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurialism in this country right now, but the idea of how to do it bootstrap was something that they had not really seen.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, and I think — and I think we mentioned it in one of the episodes early in season one, was that, you know, there’s no such shortage of experts or reading material on the internet about tech startups or some of these exciting crypto currencies in AI. But for most business owners, I would say 90%, 95% of them, you know they’re out there bootstrapping it. You know, they’ve got some similar challenges of cash flow and how to manage and find good people and how to generate more sales. They’re not out there doing multiple rounds of finance. So it’s not as sexy, but it’s very relevant.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Exactly.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: So I’m glad that, you know, I’m obviously glad that people see value in that.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Well the other big feedback that I got personally was on just how bright and maybe awful my socks were last year, so I’ve tried to tone them down for this season. Now let’s get started with a bit of a broad question. There is a lot of talk about entrepreneurialism in Canada. What do you think is the state of affairs? Is it a good time to start a business in this country?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Well, I’ll say that it’s never been better.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Okay.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: You know, I still feel that Canadian entrepreneurs are frustrated with the lack of governmental support, not only government support, but from banks. Everyone complains about the banks, in general in the investor appetite in early-stage companies isn’t quite where, you know, we need it to be, at least compared to the US where there’s lots of capital. But it’s improving.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Okay, so [unintelligible] the government is sort of getting on board. I mean we have heard some, I guess some moves they’ve been making that are going to affect small business that seem anti-employer, but you feel like they are backing the entrepreneur, or they’re ready to get involved maybe?
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: You know, I don’t want to get into my opinion on the government. I really think there is a lot of room for improvement there. But what I am seeing improvements, which I’m happy to see, is in the venture capitalist community. Still very small compared to the US, but growing. We are now starting to see many more entrepreneurs that have successfully scaled and exited their businesses that are turning to mentorship and let’s call it becoming venture capitalists themselves, which that was the trend that began 20, 30 years ago in Silicon Valley. That’s what has made that such a hotbed.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Right. There’s been some formalization of this, as well, like incubators. I’m not sure if MaRS counts. I think there some government involvement there.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yeah, MaRS is a good one [unintelligible].
Mr. Matthew Ley: But there is more of that Silicon Valley type, you know, shared spaces or whatever they might be.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Yes, and that’s also very encouraging because with Silicon Valley, you know, obviously there’s so many venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, but they’re not money guys. They’re not bankers. These are gentlemen that have, you know, sold their businesses for billions of dollars. So you’re not just getting money. You’re getting access to their contacts. They’re obviously brilliant guys that have done it before themselves, and they’re entrepreneurs at heart. That’s in their DNA. So when you get funded in the Valley from a venture group that they’ve all been on board to these great startups, that they invested early in the companies like Google. Your odds of success go way up. In Canada historically it hasn’t been there. Even if you are accessing early-stage capital it’s maybe friends and family that don’t really know anything about business; they just want to support you.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Exactly.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Where so now we’re getting these entrepreneurs, and they’re also packaging it up in some great programs. CoFoundersLab comes to mind, Creative Destruction Lab comes to mind because you’re basically getting a brain trust there. So you’re getting access to capital, but they’re also putting you through a boot camp and coaching you and helping you how to scale your business beyond just providing some office space, which is also valuable.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Right, yep, and that’s not dis — I mean, that’s not dissimilar to The Wish Group. I mean you’re not just putting seed money in, but you’re helping young entrepreneurs basically get their businesses off the ground.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: Exactly. So you know obviously at Wish Group we’ve done very well at starting up companies and scaling them very quickly. So we provide a nice infrastructure for you to do that, from whether it’s finance, marketing, IT, and most importantly access to our clients and our brilliant leaders, such as yourself because iron does sharpen iron, and it’s always better for a young entrepreneur, as they are out there embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, to be able to mentor and speak with someone who has already walked through the minefield.
Mr. Matthew Ley: Yeah, and as a young entrepreneur I’ve said it many times on this show and elsewhere, couldn’t have done it without that, just like most people can’t do it without some sort of funding.
Mr. Frank Cianciulli: You got it.
Mr. Matthew Ley: And that was a big question that you guys had. So what we’re going to do on the next episode of Boot Strap in season two is we’re going to dive in on funding. We’re going to hear from Frank and learn how he funded his first business and some dos and don’ts of funding a bootstrap startup. That’s all the time that we have today, so make sure that you comment. Let us know what you think. Any questions that came to your mind, we’ll be answering those, as well as share this with your friends, family or loved ones and keep it lean.