Stefan PrettyAdvice on Bootstrapping Lean Businesses that Grow

Scottish Entrepreneur, Founder of + 4 other businesses. My passion is lean bootstrapped startups, specifically Saas and subscription models. I'm also an expert in subscription box businesses given that I founded Subbly; a platform to run these types of businesses!

I have strong knowlege in SEO, overall marketing strategy and LOVE solving problems with a good dose of psychology and science. I gained my general online marketing skills form running digital marketing agency Pretty Klicks. I've got over 8 years experience and have worked with large brands including Jeni's ice cream, Ladbrokes, Ultimo, River Island and some of Scotland's leading small businesses.

Recent Answers

I 100% recommend TransferWise....

Used them for years. Paying contractors, being paid, and paying myself while I work abroad.

Fees are great. It's fast and reliable.

Here's my invite link:

There are competitors out there but TransferWise are probably the most well respected and backed.

This depends, but first stop for a minute and consider this.

I'm a big believer in bootstrapping. So I always say, do more with less if you can.

Before you even consider coding, maybe you just need to validate your business model first using a lean approach. I would suggest seeing if there is a market for what you want to build: try collect emails, or measure the number of clicks on a site. Plenty of options to build websites and landing pages without ANY coding experience. Then once validated, this question becomes more relevant. If you're there then read on with my answer to your question:

It really depends on if you have a budget or not to hire developers, otherwise you're going to have to give away a large chunk of equity for a co-founding CTO to do the work for you.

It won't hurt to understand the basics of programming to better help with communication either way. This I would recommend. Start with HTML / CSS to get some milage under your belt with something simple. Javascript if you're feeling bold.

Learn to code is continuous, you never stop learning. So make sure you're focusing on your strongest skills. But if money is tight and you can't raise money (which I don't recommend if you don't need to) then try build relationships with developers and see if you can find a match made in heaven and make them your technical co-founder to work with you.

If you want to learn, check out codeacademy.

Hope to see your product soon!


There are many factors to be considered here.

1. Compare the cost: How much does 30% cost against the anticipated LTV (lifetime value) of your customer, versus the CPA (cost per acquisition of a customer) using "traditional" marketing like ads, or sales teams etc. If the 30% is less than or equal to the typical CPA to onboard a customer then you're winning either way. Nothing to lose.

2. Added value: 2 things that matter A LOT with marketing, social proof, and reputation. People buy from people. You've probably heard it before, but it is true. And if "experts" in the field have wide reach (following) and great reputation, then it's INVALUABLE. You will have a hard time getting to that stage from scratch. It'll just take a long time and lots of effort pushing awesome content. If it turns out the CPA is higher (See (1)) then it might still be worth it for the nod in your direction from the reseller (IF they're an expert and using their influence to sell your product).

And subjectively, 30% isn't a lot in my opinion. If you earn, they earn. If your margin is high (which it should be for Saas in general due to low costs of goods (aside from salaries)) then it's worth it in my opinion. Referral marketing is powerful, when done right...

I hope this helps!


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