Imagine this: you’re an ambitious young product manager in a young (and up-and-coming) advertising tech company and venture capitalists have caught wind of your product’s potential. They want to invest. What would you do? For Alex Sherman and Peter Schwartz, co-founders of New York based ad-tech firm Spotfront, the answer is simple: “Thanks. But no thanks.”
Sherman and Schwarz launched Spotfront at the start of 2012 after leaving demand side platform ad tech company MediaMath. Now the interesting thing about MediaMath, our ambitious young product manager might care to note, is that it was venture capital-backed. Spotfront’s co-creators wanted to do things differently: their new baby is completely self-funded.
Specializing in data-driven advertising technology and automated digital media buying systems for digital advertisers, Spotfront is strongly committed to its independence. Those strategic investors were real, and they really were politely declined by Sherman and Schwartz.
But if you were actually a product manager with this company, you’d be aware that it reached profitability within its first year. The founders were in no rush to start diluting their ownership.
As Sherman puts it, when he and Schwartz were considering whether to accept or decline investment, they looked carefully at both paths. Ultimately, though, they decided they wanted to build a product that customers also wanted and to do that properly, they needed to work at their own pace. He added:
“There’s a big difference between taking a risk with someone else’s money and your own. We valued our independence and our ability to make mistakes.”
Big career prospects
Bootstrapping their company has inevitably tightly focused their minds right from the outset. Herman explains:
“Whenever you bootstrap a business revenue becomes that much more important. You become very business model focused, very sensitive to cost structures and it really does force you into a kind of diligence with regards to financial performance and managing your costs.”
But if a product manager role became available, there are some big advantages to working for a successful bootstrapped company like Spotfront. Sherman says that they make every candidate aware that by working for a bootstrapped firm, they’ll rapidly be placed into the middle of the company where they’ll have “very real responsibility and very real impact.”
The firm is aiming to double its team in the coming six months.