Practical Founders Podcast

#70: Bootstrapped to $3M and Raised a VC Round Before a $200M PE Transaction – Jafar Owainati

Jafar Owainati was a mechanical engineer before he got an MBA in entrepreneurship and decided to start a software company with two friends. They looked at many ideas before building software to help sales engineers respond to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) faster and easier. They launched Loopio in 2014 and had paying customers within one year. 

The three founders built the software and sold the first customers before adding more employees as they approached $1M ARR. They kept growing faster with a disciplined and frugal approach before raising a round of VC funding from OpenView Ventures, a practical investor that aligned with the vision and approach of Loopio’s founders. 

Loopio now has hundreds of employees and Sumeru Equity Partners made a strategic $200 million private equity investment in 2021. Jafar left to start a compensation management software company called Barley which is starting to grow quickly now.  

Bootstrapped to VC-funded Topics Discussed on This Podcast 
  • How Jafar shifted careers using an MBA to get into the tech startup game
  • How he and his cofounders chose a specific problem to work on to start Loopio
  • How they bootstrapped to $3M ARR with few employees and a disciplined approach
  • Why they decided to raise one round of VC funding from an investor who aligned with their goals
  • How Jafar won big when Loopio completed a large PE transaction and brought on a new investment partner
  • Why he wanted to start a new software company from and do it again
Quote from Jafar Owainati, Loopio and Barley “My advice for founders starting out is to have strong alignment. That’s alignment with yourself if you’re a solo founder or alignment with your co-founders if you’re more than one. You need to align on what is the business that you want to build. “If you have one person who wants to build a unicorn and the other founder wants to work a nine-to-five and be capital efficient, it would be a disaster if you had those two founders working together. And that happens a lot.  There is a misalignment of What are we building? “The two main alignment questions for founders are 1) What do you want for your career and personal growth and 2) What do you want financially? Those things need to be aligned between your founders—and your investors if you have any.”



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Greg Head recorded this on episode on November 17, 2023 for the Practical Founders Podcast see all of the episodes.

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