Bijoy Goswami is deeply interested in how we create extraordinary, meaningful and joyful lives. He sees our unique human capability of building mental models as a vital part of this endeavor. He loves building and sharing simple, yet powerful models, including MRE, youPlusU and Bootstrap.
His life has been an inadvertent study of contrasting spiritual, cultural and intellectual models. He was born in Bangalore, India on April 15, 1973, to a Catholic mother and a Hindu father. He moved to Taiwan at the age of ten and Hong Kong at fourteen. He came to the US in 1991, attending Stanford, where he studied Computer Science, Economics, History and completed an Honors program in Science, Technology and Society.
He spent a term at Oxford. In 1995 he moved to Austin, TX, to join a software startup and cofounded Aviri software in April 2000. In 2003, he began, in earnest, his work as a model-builder, bootstrapper and evangelist.
Bijoy expresses and communicates his models through books, music, film, community, and websites. The process also deepens his understanding of the models and how to effectively convey them. Collaboration is at the heart of this process and he has been very lucky in finding extraordinary partners. Their expertise combines with the model, and through multiple iterations, a unique creation results. Some of these include Bootstrap Austin, The Human Fabric and Mystic Cab.
[Photo by René Lego Photography]
WHAT IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO YOU?
You know, people think about entrepreneurship, and there's lots of different -- they think it's sort of one thing, but actually there's many different paths of entrepreneurship.
So you can divide it into as many categories. I like the number 3, so I tend to think about it in threes. So on one side you have kind of, you have the funding approach to entrepreneurship, which is of course practiced in Silicon Valley the best and that's all about how do we essentially make a number of bets and create an exit in a short amount of time? That and they're all trying to basically innovate new business models.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have what I call cookie-cutter or craft business and that's sort of most small business in America or in the world. You're not trying to create a new business model, but you are creating, you're still writing your own show, and so on and so forth.
And bootstrapping, it kind of lies between those two paradigms. And so in bootstrapping, it's sort of you're trying to create a new business, but you're not doing it on the back of funding. You're doing it on the back of constraint and you're not constraining time, you're letting things unfold. And then you emerge into a new business and you discover your business model. So it might take you 5 or 10 years to discover your business model from the process of bootstrapping.
There's a number of ways to describe bootstrapping. I have a joke which is like: If I were in a blind alley and someone had a gun to head and said, "Bootstrapping!" and he said "Four words!" I would say, "Right action, right time," and then he'd shoot me, right?
And if he said, you know, "Three words!" then I would say, "Constraints creates innovation." And if he said, "Two words!" I'd say, "Use everything".
So, right action, right time, to me, is kind of the four-word tagline for bootstrapping and what it really says is, "Be in the moment, be in the present moment."
Take the right action and follow what is there, both from your personal ambitions and goals, what you want, the situation... You know, if you start hiring people ahead of having a business and having customers, you're going to hit some trouble.
A great entrepreneur finds their own style, OK? Whether they call it bootstrapping, funding, or whatever, those are just categories, right? They discover their own unique style of entrepreneurship, but the ultimate thing is to find your own style. Bruce Lee would say this about kung fu, he said people would say "What's your style? Is it Tae Kwon Do? Is it this?" He says, "No, no, my style is no style."
So, what you find in entrepreneurship in Austin is that it emerges out of people's natural passions and talents. You're not just building any business just so you can build a big business. You're building a business because you think organic food is awesome, you think that's a huge thing and you love eating organic and you're a vegan, John Mackey, and you start a grocery store with your girlfriend.
And that's how that becomes, 30 years later, becomes a global Fortune 500 company. So in Austin, it's about this unique connection that the entrepreneur has to their passions and talents. And a lot of the time, you don't want to stop doing that, right?
In the funding model, you're going to want to exit. You want to sell your company so you can make a million and then do the next thing. But if this is your passion, right, if this is your talent, if this is your life's work, if you're like Steve Jobs, if you're Bill Gates, if you're Michael Dell, if you are John Mackey, you know, if this is what you do, you don't want to exit.
You want to keep working it, you want to keep growing it and expanding it. So there's a natural alliance with bootstrapping, and Austin's ethos as a be-yourself city. So if you look at our businesses and startups in Austin, tech and otherwise, you'll find this trend that no one else could have built that business.
The Alamo Drafthouse. No one but Tim Lee and Kerry Lee could have built the Alamo Drafthouse, because of who there are. When you realize their stories, you're like, "Oh, my gosh. It totally makes sense."
If you're trying to go and play on a big stage, then probably New York is a great city for that, or the Bay Area, LA, things like that. Hong Kong is another one of those hey, this is where you're going to try and make a big success out of things.
But if you're in a period of exploration, a period of discovery, and you're trying to put it all together and you're not just trying to follow an existing mold of success but discover and define your own mold of success, then I think that Austin is -- I don't know that there's another city that does that as well as we do.
WHY WE ARE_AUSTIN TECH?
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