How I Built Juliette With No Money.
Back in 2013 I had this great idea for a company. It was an app that would pickup, clean, and deliver your clothes in 24 hours. I thought it was genius! But there was one big problem - how do I build a company from scratch?
As the saying goes “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
Resourcefulness, Relationships, Resilience.
I forged my way by being resourceful, leveraging my relationships, and remaining resilient throughout it all.
Here are three things I did to get my company off the ground:
1. How I Built A Prototype Without A Budget
Prior to launching my company, I worked at another tech startup where I had great relationships with the engineers. I approached the best one, pitched him my idea, and asked if he would consider building the app for me in his spare time but only charging me a year later. He agreed.
2. How I Got A Space Without Seed Funding
I cold-called laundromats and dry cleaners in New York City. This may sound strange, but I actually enjoyed cold calling. There's something powerful about picking up the phone and simply talking to someone. You can learn a lot in the first few minutes. I cold-called various cleaners to see if anyone was interested in collaborating with me. It took some time and convincing, but one cleaner eventually opened his doors to me. I swept the floors, cleaned the clothes, and ran the machines for him for free. I did everything I could to learn about the laundry & dry cleaning business.
After a while, I earned his trust, and he gave me the keys to his business. That's how I was able to get a space and equipment without the initial startup cost.
3. How I Got My First Customers Without Advertising
I lacked a marketing or advertising budget. So I approached a large real estate developer I had previously worked with. I asked if they would let me pilot my business in a few of their buildings. They agreed and allowed me to setup flyers in the elevators, a display in the lobby; and they announce my service through an email blast to their residents. And that's how I got my first customers.
7 years later, I'm so proud that those initial buildings and customers still use Juliette!
So while it's true that you need to make money to make money, don't forget that you also have the ability to create something from nothing.
Lean into your relationships and natural skill set and you will find a wealth of opportunities.