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Hi all,

I'm bootstrapping a SaaS business, and looking at doing consulting work to
get cashflow while my subscriber base is too small to support me.

My skills and experience are mainly in building and deploying web-based
software, but I'm not sure it's a great market to be pursuing. Sure,
web-devs are in high demand, but AFAICT everybody wants to hire full-time
employees, and there are few short-term or one-off projects that would be
amenable to contract developers.

So, my questions to the group are:

Have you, or anybody you know, done this? Is it s viable strategy? Who
should I talk to about it?



19 Replies

David Albrecht
David Albrecht Entrepreneur

You might have some luck targeting non-software companies (do these exist
in San Francisco?)

Try to find clients who aren't in the business of building software and
have lots of money -- most software startups aren't either of those.

Clynton Caines
Clynton Caines Entrepreneur
SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies

I agree with David - great idea. Here are a couple anecdotes from
personal experience:

In the early days of web-dev, I was put in touch with a local specialty
store that wanted to place their inventory online. It was a small shop
seemingly, but they had lots of $ (and were understanding and willing to
pay more for every "crazy" new change they wanted). Loads of fun and I
believe I helped them gain many new customers.

I also did a stint at Rentacoder (now That was crazy
and high stress, but after a few rounds of low $ projects, I was able to
command a premium. I had to quit eventually because other things took
precedent, but I was glad to end with a 10 point rating and something
like a ranking of 55 out of 100K coders (including many multi-developer

The bottom line is, there are many options for you to do either and
succeed. Step 1 is to hit the pavement or sign up online and get your
name out there.

Good luck

David Crooke
David Crooke Entrepreneur
Serial entrepreneur and CTO

Yes, I have. Yes. Anyone who has good info and a few minutes to spare -
that would include me :)


Jeff Bennett
Jeff Bennett Entrepreneur
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist, Strategist and Developer

Hi Colin,

I am kind of in the same boat and looking to cover my burn rate a little
better in 2013. I have looked to do this in past years and there are a lot
of things I have tried, Craigslists posting and andswering ads, General
Networking, Web site, Adwords, Linked in Adwords, SEO, Local SEO, cold
calls, and even more. Not really any financial success on any of it. There
has to be a better way as non of these produced much of anything worthwhile
and took a lot of effort. I learned a lot though.

I stopped one time and calculated roughly my consulting income over time
and over 95% of all of it, came from people I actually knew. And it is a
good deal of money over a long time. Given my other efforts, it re-focused
me on particular targets a bit better.

I am up for a call or the like for those interested, where we could compare
notes, stories, strategies, tactics, etc as I would bet our combined
experience might net something, or at least save other some time.

Anyone interested, just let me know.



Felix Menard
Felix Menard Entrepreneur
UX Director at Toronto Star

Hey founders,

I've been in a similar situation: trying to fund my startup with consulting jobs.
Because I love designing for startups, that's the people I decided to work with. Tech startups are mostly looking to build an internal team, and are most of the time under-funded; not exactly the easiest market for freelancing. While I clearly explain how I add value to startups on a simple webpage, it's my local network that helped me the most so far: meeting entrepreneurs, publicly speaking, attending and organizing events.

I find working on interesting projects and with great teams nourishing and motivating; it fuels my creativity and helps me gain new skills. I'm a big bootstrapping advocate, but there are times where consulting work can make you loose momentum on your own startup. Interesting work is hard to find, the balance is hard to keep, but it's doable. Good luck :)



F?lix M?nard

(438) 765-6853
266 Rue St-Paul Est #2
Montr?al, QC, H2Y 1G9
On 2013-02-10, at 1:29 PM, jeffkbennett wrote:

Matthew Cordasco
Matthew Cordasco Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-founder and Head of Product


I'm interested in opinions regarding founder's initial investment and the
mechanics of getting it into the company.  Specifically, if there are two
founders and they are both going to write a decent sized check to get the
business going; should they simply put that into a checking account and call
it a day or should it be more of a formal investment on convertible notes,

For reference the equity split is uneven, something like 80-20.



Tim Scott
Tim Scott Entrepreneur • Advisor
President, Lunaverse Software


Consulting can be a great way to move from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur. I've been an independent developer since 2005.  I've been lucky enough to have awesome clients that would take 75% of me, then 50%, then 25% as my entrepreneurial endeavors developed...then back to 100% when they flopped. :)  It's a bit of a dance, but it can work.

It's true that startups often prefer to hire, or they can't pay the rate you want. The sweet spot for me has been established mid-sized companies -- with some money but not so big as to have dumb restrictions about contractors. These gigs lean towards .NET and Java but not always.  I just finished a 6 month Rails gig.

Do some networking, and I bet you'll find opportunities to pull in some money. Developing a real indie practice that keeps you billable over the years takes a while to develop and requires some energy (blogging, OSS contribution, speaking, etc), but hopefully you won't need that because your SaaS company will take off!

Tim Scott

Doron Gan
Doron Gan Entrepreneur
Founder CTO at ViralGains


        There are usually lots of contract jobs out there for 3  months, some longer (Check the job listing sites). You can also hit up some tech recruiters but they will take a large percentage of the pay. Your network is also a great place to see if anyone needs help that knows you and your talents.

        One warning is that the contract job will take your time and will impact your business efforts because of that. Also, having a steady income from the contract may get a little too tempting (I once took a 3 month contract and 2.5 years later, moved on). Thats a trap quit a few people I know fell into.


On Feb 9, 2013, at 5:34 PM, David Albrecht <> wrote:

Vijay Goel, MD
Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)

Consulting can be a viable strategy, but like building a product, you have to find where your services meet the demand and what credentials you can sell.  Its a little different for me (im a former mckinsey consultant) and i have a consulting toolkit/ resume that bring a fair bit of credibility and ability to make an impact quickly.  I use consulting to "angel" my own projects.  Not the most scalable model, but also eliminates the fundraising cycle and helps transition consulting revs to business revs.

Biggest things ive figured out about consulting:
- try to find people looking for help and who have a burning platform and budget to fix.  Nice to haves almost never really happen
- position a way you can help to solve the problem vs. just putting a resume out
- selling takes time.  Leveraging aggregators to fill in gaps can reduce hourly rate but even out cash flow and build a track record
- beware sales overhead relative to billable hours
- most customers dont know what they want, so layingi out options is often the first step and a good investment (with a viable cusomer)

Iwouldnt recommend consulting as a short-term strategy.  If youre goingto do it, you should be thinking in a 2-3 year horizon else find faster cycle time approaches with people who already have a sales pipeline

Derek Dukes
Derek Dukes Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business Development, Startups at Amazon Web Services

In the past companies we've handled this in the following way:
- Develop a guideline for what qualifies as a counted expense
- Discuss if there will be a cap for these expenses (like you are each
going to top out at 20K or what ever)
- Each founder writes checks / pays for expenses how they see fit (credit
cards, checks etc.)
- Save Receipts (this is pretty important)
- When you go to fundraise surface that founders are putting in their own
capital* into the deal and count it against the convertible note target
- If for some reason you need to go beyond your initial outlay target you
may be able to roll that in to the note depending on where the note is, or
you may just take repayment as an expense once the note closes.

Also, I suggest using expensify or some such to keep track of which
expenses need receipts, if you're bad at this sort of thing, like me, this
will make your life easier.

* Since you're going to be part of the convertible it might make senes to
have the number be something round like '25K or 50K', just looks cleaner
and makes the decision appear less 'ad-hoc'.

- Thanks, Derek

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 10:58 AM, Matthew Cordasco <>wrote:

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