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How We Bootstrapped to a $100 M Exit?

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Chris Cantino is the co-owner of Color Capital. Prior to this, Chris was CMO of Schmidt's Naturals and helped propel the company to a $100M+ acquisition by Unilever alongside his wife and partner Jaime Schmidt.

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Here are the 10-pointers recommended by Chris!

1. Do the Unscalable

  • Little things such as personal phone calls, notes, customer service, and getting on Zoom with an influencer, etc yield big advantages.

  • Scaled businesses can’t embrace the human side of startups as you can

  • Lean in, the more unscalable, the better you can be.

2. Leverage Authenticity

  • Authenticity is your fastest path to forging brand devotion.

  • Luckily, you have an excess of it that is your story, your character, and your vibe.

  • Everyone roots for the underdog.

  • Take your customers behind the scenes.

  • Don’t be afraid of the mess.

3. Embrace Profitability

  • If you can’t pay the bills, either the business or your lifestyle will self-destruct.

  • Focus on the fundamentals, and run a cash flow-positive business - it will be scalable, durable, and result in higher valuations later.

  • Have a budget, have a plan.

4. Follow Your Intuition

  • Bootstrappers watch risk-laden competitors raise big $$$ and follow playbooks to scale.

  • Block out the noise, and channel your intuition.

  • The more your brand thinks differently, the more you stand out.

  • Manifest originality.

5. Build a Community

  • Early adopters want to root for you - so give them a place to do it.

  • And provide them an incentive to do so.

  • Reward them with education, access, and support.

  • Involve them in decisions, celebrate with them, and above all, unify them.

  • Create a clarion call.

6. Rapidly Iterate on Customer Feedback

  • While corporates slog, you can launch updates overnight and engage customers for direct feedback.

  • The more you do, the more loyal they’ll be.

  • And the better your product gets.

  • It’s more than a flywheel—it’s a roadmap.

7. Ask for Help, and Build a Network

  • You’re under-networked, but supporters WILL go out of their way to elevate you.

  • Even the ones that can’t help immediately will remember you—and years down the line, those relationships will pay off in spades.

  • Be relentless and patient.

8. Don’t Stress About the Competition

  • Copying others is the fast path to irrelevancy.

  • No one bets on a knockoff. If you want to pay attention to competitors, pay attention to what they DON’T do—and fill the void they leave.

  • When you pattern match, you fail.

9. Ladder Up to Opportunities

  • Every success is proof that you’re ready for the next big opportunity.

  • No one jumps from rung one to rung 10 on the ladder.

  • Collect proof at every step—this gives you a license to scale.

  • Maintain a growth mentality.

10. Be Relentless, Get up Everyday

  • Bootstrapping is a mindset.

  • It starts every morning with asking yourself: “How can I get one win today?”

  • Your progress will compound by the day, and after countless pivots, you WILL overcome.

  • Play the long game, and play to win.


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