70 Meetups, 999 Entrepreneurs, and Thousands of Solved Problems: Six Years of Philly Bootstrappers Breakfast Knowledge

Happy anniversary to the Philly Bootstrappers Breakfast! For six years, Bootstrappers Breakfast has been providing a space for entrepreneurs and small business owners to come together to solve challenges faced when starting and growing a business. The breakfast is a chance to compare notes and share experiences on operational, development, and business issues in a relaxed environment with peers who speak from experience.

Guest SpeakerJoe Cotellese

Reflecting on the community built and the many success stories that we’ve seen, we crunched some numbers to determine the impact this event has had on the Philly tech scene. In six years, there’s been 70+ meetups, 999 entrepreneurs and practicing members (who’s going to be lucky 1,000?!), hundreds of cups of coffee, and 1,000’s of solved problems.

In this month’s Philly Tech Week and anniversary edition, we brought in guest speaker and product expert Joe Cotellese, who shared his journey to becoming his own boss with some important lessons he’s learned along the way.

From ownership to vision to a fearless, can-do attitude, Joe possesses the necessary traits of a leader and founder. He’s bootstrapping his startup, Sharey, a digital marketing and lead-generation tool, and the idea and spark that could get him to where he wants to be in his career (controlling his own company’s destiny!).

There is something about the way I move through the world that working for corporate America or a company that has been around for 20 years, doesn’t fit with my DNA.
— Joe Cotellese

He dropped some knowledge and inspiration during his talk. Here are a few highlights:

  1. Don’t take no for an answer. After being rejected from a job interview, Joe called to get answers… and ended up with a paid position in another department. If he never called, he would have never gotten offered to test video games, which ended up leading him to learn software development, which jump-started his career in tech.

  2. Just having an idea isn’t good enough. Ideas remain ideas if there’s no business model to back them up. The thing you build is not the product, but all the pieces of your business model. Can you make money before even building the product? Spoken like a true product manager, Joe stressed the importance of validating your ideas and making sure what you’re building is right for the consumer. Use Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas to design and test your business model.

  3. You need outside-in perspective to grow your business. As an entrepreneur, you probably think all of your ideas are good. Perhaps they aren’t. Surround yourself with coaches, mentors, and peers who will be there to help determine which risks are worth taking and where to find opportunities.

  4. Find your competitive advantage. Figuring out how to acquire new customers is challenging. How do you fill the top of the funnel and build awareness around your brand? Joe’s been listed on several “product managers you should follow” lists and uses his industry and thought leadership to his competitive advantage. His current customer acquisition tactic is using podcasting as a way to differentiate himself and help fill the bottom line. Pro-Tip: Read Michael Porter’s, Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance

City Councilman and successful entrepreneur, Allan Domb, also joined the breakfast, to remind us that the city of Philadelphia is here to help the advancement and focus of the tech industry. There were so many attendees at this week’s event, we had several facilitators guiding the breakout mastermind discussions, with topics ranging from customer acquisition, to breaking down barriers of entry to new technologies, to diversifying your business, and more. Thanks to all who were there to help celebrate the start of our sixth year in Philly!

Philly Bootstrappers Breakfast are held every third Tuesday of the month, the next one May 22nd. And we're now running a NYC Bootstrappers Mastermind - join us Friday, May 18th!