I had a conversation with my wife this week. I told her that I attended a "Bootstrappers Breakfast" event online.
"Bootstrapped? I don't like the sound of that," she said.
We had a long conversation about our understanding of that word and some of the implications of using it.
While the phrase, "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," was originally intended to denote an impossible task, it's been co-opted in modern American politics to imply that anyone can do a task if they're willing to work hard enough.
To my wife - not a techie or entrepreneur - saying that I was building a "bootstrapped" business ignored the many advantages I had in starting my company. For example:
While the term, "bootstrapped" is a convenient way for those of us in self-funded startups to describe what we do to venture-funded startups, it sounds very different to people outside our little world. It comes off as elitist and ignorant of privilege, which I do not want.
If the phrase, "bootstrapped" isn't true (we all stand on some level of prior advantage), and it conveys an impossible expectation for most people, is it a phrase we should continue using to describe ourselves?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.