After 10 years of bootstrapping, Kirkland darling BitTitan closed a $15 million Series A in June. And, when the first wire transfer from that round was transferred into BitTitan’s account, CEO Geeman Yip felt relief.
“I can’t tell you the feeling. All that work and the second that first $3 million hit the bank, it was so emotional. That sense of relief that you haven’t felt for nearly a decade,” Yip said.
The cloud technology startup, founded in 2007, has grown to nearly 200 employees worldwide and has had 100 percent growth year over year. BitTitan’s lack of outside funding in the early years wasn’t for lack of trying. Yip made inquiries and pitched investors during the early years, but no one expressed interest. Instead of folding, Yip pushed forward, refining the business, developing his product, making small pivots, and slowly building a profitable business. The decade of work has paid off.
“It’s a great time to raise money now because I know who we are, we have a vision, we know where the industry’s going to be, and I have a team to execute,” Yip said.
We recently chatted with Yip about the funding news, and he shared a few lessons learned about bootstrapping, finding the right investor, and building a company with happy people.
Getting funding now was easier, but not easy. “Having a track record of being successful definitely opens up a lot of doors. We spoke to more than 100 investors and had multiple offers. We were very fortunate to be in a position where we got to choose an investment partner that was really right for us. Finding the investment that meets everyone’s requirements is still difficult regardless of your success. What makes it easier is that we have more choice because we have a proven track record.”
Measure the happy moments. “Fun can be measured. Think back on a time in your life that brings a smile to your face and makes you happy. How many moments like this am I creating, and has the amount of these moments decreased over time? My early days at Microsoft were full of those moments, and I left because I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I wanted to start a company that reminded me of those early days at Microsoft. On a daily basis I still think about that, and those early days still bring a smile to my face. I want to put those things into this company.”
Relationships are long-term. “I call it the ‘punch-in-the-face’ test. When you’re meeting someone, within the first 10 minutes, do I want to punch that person in the face? Because I want to make sure the person I talk to at board meetings is someone I see eye-to-eye with and we don’t have argumentative conversations. Someone I see as a mentor.”