"I want to give you a window into what it was actually like for us to bootstrap a startup from $0 to $1M ARR in 36 months."

Melissa Kwan, Cofounder and CEO of eWebinar, ProfitLed Podcast

Melissa Kwan
Melissa Kwan, Cofounder and CEO
eWebinar, ProfitLed Podcast
Digital Nomad
Founder journey, Bootstrapping

About Melissa Kwan

Melissa Kwan is the Cofounder and CEO of eWebinar, an automated webinar solution that combines pre-recorded video with real-time interactions and live chat to deliver an engaging experience for attendees. Melissa and her team believe that by automating the repetitive and tedious task of giving the same onboarding, training, and sales presentations over and over, they free people up to focus their time on something else they value more.

Melissa is also the host of ProfitLed, a podcast that focuses on growth strategies for bootstrapped entrepreneurs from proven founders and strategists. If only 1% of startups get venture capital, then 99% of startups are ProfitLed. Melissa is passionate about telling the stories of those who have forged their own path and on their own terms to show founders around the world that it can be done, and that they are not alone.

Welcome to Season Two - Our Journey to $1M | Melissa Kwan, eWebinar


About this episode

[Transcript] My name is Melissa Kwan, the host of ProfitLed, a podcast that focuses on growth strategies for bootstrapped entrepreneurs. Welcome to the first episode of Season Two!

If you never listened to the first episode of Season One, I’d like to invite you to go back to it. It’s where I share my own story and what compelled me to start this podcast in the first place.

You see, I’m kind of on a mission here… to inspire other entrepreneurs to live the life they want, on their own terms, without venture capital.

I’m a 3rd time bootstrapped founder who has had the privilege of growing a startup to profitability and acquisition in 2019 without raising from VCs. Along my journey, I saw how the allure and perceived reality of building a venture-backed company drove many of my founder friends down a path that turned out not to be true to who they were and what they wanted. It’s a path I tried and luckily failed to follow myself.

I want to be clear here…there is nothing wrong with venture capital, but it’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s only right for a very few.

It’s why last season I brought in guests like myself to share their stories. I wanted to give the spotlight to non-venture backed founders who had forged their own path to success in order to show people it’s possible. Each episode from Season One is filled with actionable insights to help you grow your business from people who lived to tell about it.

But here’s the thing…

If you’ve been following me on LinkedIn, you know that a few times a week for over a year, I’ve been posting about my experiences bootstrapping three companies. I’ve tried to be as honest and straightforward as possible about my journey. In fact, I share as much or more about my mistakes as I do my successes. It’s everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Out of all of my posts over that time, what I noticed is the ones people engaged with the most shared something in common; they offered a window into the reality of what it’s like to build a startup with very few resources.

The most viral posts were things like “the 12 most shocking surprises on our way to $1m ARR”, “the 8 biggest misconceptions about bootstrappers”, and “12 zero-dollar marketing strategies that got us to $1m in 3 years”. (I’ll share links to these posts in this episode’s show notes, if you’re curious to read them.)

Overwhelmingly, the feedback I’ve gotten from people on these posts has been about how refreshingly authentic it is to hear from a non-unicorn founder they can relate to.

And that got me thinking...

There really isn’t much original content that dives deep into what a day in the life is like of an average, non-venture backed founder.

Which is why I’ve decided to switch things up.

I’m currently the Cofounder and CEO of eWebinar. At the time of this recording, we’d just crossed $1m ARR (annual recurring revenue) 36 months after product launch.

So, for Season Two, rather than focus on the experience of others, I want to give you a window into what it was actually like for us to bootstrap a startup from $0 to $1m ARR.

This episode is just me. But in future episodes, I’ll be joined by our COO at eWebinar, Todd Parmley. He and I will dive deep into one topic per episode, one particular aspect of our journey to $1M bootstrapping eWebinar from day one. We’re gonna retrace our steps and we want you to come along with us for the ride.

Todd was a customer of mine in my last startup, and the first person I went to when I decided to start eWebinar. He’s just as much of a cofounder as my CTO/cofounder who joined me a year into this venture - but we’ll get into that in episode 2.

Todd is the perfect person to co-host this season because he was there even before day one when I was just beginning to conceptualize the business.

You’ll be getting two different perspectives: one from a founder and the other from the first person to join a startup.

So then, what can you expect from this season? We’ll talk about things ranging from how we put together an all-star team with limited capital to the best and worst investments we made in our business to key pricing decisions that turned out to be costly mistakes. You’ll hear horror stories like how users figured out loopholes to misuse our free trial, costing us $8000 in 10 days, and success stories like how we ended up owning our SEO strategy having zero experience in digital marketing, which now makes up over 50% of our demo traffic.

Though our story won’t always be pretty, we hope it will be insightful. Our goal is to demystify bootstrapping by sharing our experience of it, and tell you what it’s really like to figure things out as you go, so that A) You’ll know you’re not alone in the struggle and B) Maybe you can find some of the inspiration you need to forge your own success.

If what I’ve talked about today resonates with you, subscribe to ProfitLed on your favorite podcast app to get notified of new episodes and also join our mailing list by going to profitled.fm. I promise to only share things you’ll actually care about.

If there are particular topics you want us to get into this season, let me know by connecting with me on LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you.

My name is Melissa Kwan, last name spelled K-W-A-N.

Thanks for listening to this episode, and I can’t wait to share so much more with you.

About ProfitLed

On Season Two of ProfitLed, Melissa (CEO and Cofounder of eWebinar) and Todd (COO) goes in-depth on one topic per episode on their "Journey to $1M" at eWebinar.

They share war stories, mistakes, and lessons learned as they grew the company to a million in ARR over 36 months. Their goal is to demystify bootstrapping by sharing their experience of it, and tell you what it’s really like to figure things out as you go.

ProfitLed is a podcast by and for founders brave (and crazy) enough to grow their startups to profitability without venture capital.

Learn more about your host, Melissa Kwan, and the ProfitLed podcast.

Learn more about eWebinar.