How to Build a Startup Without Funding by Pieter Levels

๐Ÿ“š My book is out now:
๐Ÿฅ My Twitter:

Presented at Dojo Bali, thanks to Michael Craig and Haren Tambi for hosting, Marc-Antoine Fonne for filming, Andrey Azimov, Clare Harrison, and Petr Suska for supporting.

The popular narrative of startups is outdated. You don’t need venture capital to build a startup. You do need a DIY attitude, a lot of persistence and become a generalist who can learn new skills like coding, design and marketing quickly. This way of building a startup is called bootstrapping and it’s the coolest way to do it I think. The best thing is you don’t need to rub up to venture capitalists to get funding, you keep ownership of your company and you have higher odds to make more money.

The 7 stages of bootstrapping a startup:

00:00 Intro
6:58๐Ÿ’ก Idea
11:58 ๐Ÿ›  Build
14:50 ๐Ÿš€ Launch
20:15 ๐ŸŒฑ Grow
26:18 ๐Ÿ’ฐ Monetize
33:20 ๐Ÿค– Automate
35:48 ๐Ÿšช Exit

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This event took place in at in Canngu, Bali on January 15, 2018.

This is straight from my book that’s coming out this month called MAKE ( for $30. Don’t worry, this book is only 1% of my income, so I’m not a bullshit artist telling you to buy my book. I am doing fine without it! Thanks!

I am Pieter Levels, the founder of Nomad List (, the biggest crowdsourced city database and digital nomads social network. I also founded Remote OK (, the biggest remote jobs board in the world.

After I was quickly going broke in 2014, I started building “12 startups in 12 months” which got a lot of attention and forced me to ship a new app every month.

Most of those apps didn’t become successful, but some did: Nomad List became a real startup with millions of monthly users, multiple acquisition offers, $25,000 to $40,000/month in revenue, while having a real cultural impact of getting tens of thousands of people to travel and work remotely.

Remote OK started as a basic jobs board for remote workers, and grew out to now be the highest traffic generating remote careers platform with about $30,000 to $70,000/month revenue in job posts.

My total revenue over all my projects together has now surpassed $100,000/month and is growing at 1.76x per year. I share this to make the point again: it’s possible to bootstrap a company without venture capital and all the bullshit that comes with it.

I also won Product Hunt’s Maker of the Year in 2016 and 2018, won Product Hunt’s Side Project of the Year in 2018, am the #1 most upvoted Product Hunt maker, got my apps multiple times to #1 on Hacker News and I was on the frontpage of Reddit twice (with Nomad List and Hoodmaps).

I don’t have the keys to success, so I can only tell you what worked for me. A few principles I hold is that I don’t take external funding, I do everything myself, I mostly don’t really hire, I automate a lot which means I have lots of robots working for me 24/7, I like transparency and I hate business bullshit. That means I share my revenue, share the problems I have and the successes when things do work. This presentation is pretty much that!


๐ŸŽค Host: Haren Tambi & Michael Craig @
๐Ÿ“ท Camera: Marc-Antoine Fonne
๐Ÿ˜ƒ Audience: Andrey Azimov, Clare Harrison, Petr Suska + more
โŒจ Transcribing: Anna K.

Portuguese (Brazil) subtitles by Eric Vieira @eric_vieira

This content was originally published here.