How We Bootstrapped to a $100 M Exit?
Updated: Nov 26
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.
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.