Ray Blakney is an award-winning bootstrapping entrepreneur who grew up in Turkey and now lives in Querétaro, Mexico.
He is known for founding Twiducate, a social network for schools with over 200,000 users, Podcast Hawk, a SAAS product that helps people get podcast bookings on auto-pilot and Live Lingua, one of the world's leading language schools.
He recently shared some of his top learnings he practices that have helped him build multiple seven-figure businesses from his living room in Queretaro, Mexico where he often works in his pajamas.
You Don't Need Venture Capital
Ray bootstrapped several companies from zero to six and seven figures with no support from venture capitalists and outside investors.
He says asking for venture funding is something entrepreneurs have been led to believe is the only option but that going it alone should still stay in the conversation.
"A common misconception is that to build a 6 or 7 figure business you need a loan or VC money. I have never used either and have done it multiple times with no more than $1000 US in startup costs at most."
Start Offline And Move It Online
When Ray first started his language school in Mexico he didn't have any online presence. He built the schools to notoriety without the internet before transferring the learnings online. He believes that taking learnings in the bootstrapping phase is key to validating an idea before moving things online.
"We took our physical language immersion school and moved it online. We not only offered the language via our university-educated teachers but also added strong cultural components with our classes, material, and podcast (for Spanish)."
Giving Back Is Paramount
Ray grew up in Turkey during his teenage years and ended up in the Peace Corps which gave him tremendous intercultural experiences and respect for those living in developing nations.
"If I had been born in their village, where the school only went to 6th grade, I would probably be just like them."
This perspective is what allows him to be so comfortable giving back to those who need it the most and integrating this into his businesses.
"Every business has a strong charitable component of giving back. We co-sponsor children with our staff through Save the Children at Live Lingua. Portions of the income from Twiducate go to helping pay the education of deaf children in Mexico"
Discipline Is Key
The road to entrepreneurship is not easy. We often see fantasized images of the perfect life of high-performing entrepreneurs in media, television, and movies. Ray cautions to this idealized image:
"When you start off, you have to do everything yourself. And contrary to what we see in Hollywood movies or in tech magazines, most of the work is not glamorous."
Ray believes these images don't show the realities of what it takes and that it distracts entrepreneurs. He encourages others to do the work and not just once but every single day on a consistent basis.
"To bootstrap a successful online business it takes getting up every morning and doing what you had planned. Going to bed, and doing it again the next day for years."
When asked his ultimate secret to success Ray keeps it simple:
"Discipline is the "secret" to all my success. I get up every morning and do what is on my to-do list and don't stop until it is complete."
Ray hosts Learn Spanish with Live Lingua one of the top language learning podcasts on iTunes releasing a new episode daily.