WCN14 Podcast: Luke Stokes on FoxyCart and Bootstrapping a Startup

While at WordCamp, Luke Stokes, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of FoxyCart, shared his story of inspiration, hard-work, and entrepreneurial success. FoxyCart, an eCommerce shopping cart system, started as growing frustration with inadequate systems that boiled over into developing a solution.

Brett Florio, another developer and FoxyCart cofounder and developer, could not find an eCommerce system that fit his needs. He continually shared his frustration with Luke, eventually trying over 100 options with no success.

Brett and Luke realized most systems were built with the merchant – not developers who actually create the websites and integrates the eCommerce functionality – in mind. Additionally, these systems tried to do too much, ultimately doing little well.

Luke offered to build a system that would solve this problem for Brett. In fact, Luke (foolishly, in retrospect) said he could probably put something together over the weekend that would fit the bill.

Seven years later, Luke and Team FoxyCart still work to perfect that system. So far, FoxyCart has processed more than $500 million in transactions.

For a while, Luke built the systems on a customer-to-customer basis, providing eCommerce solutions for Brett’s existing clients. One day, a random interested customer found them online and asked them to build an ecommerce system for his website. A company was born.

FoxyCart makes all business and design decisions with the developer in mind. Accordingly, Luke and Brett decided the best approach was to bootstrap the company. For Luke, this meant continuing to work his full time job while launching FoxyCart. For four years, Luke worked a normal nine to five, Monday to Friday job, coming home at 5:30 to spend time with his family until 8:30, when he would go back to work on the new business until one or two in the morning, only to wake up and do it all again the next day. Additionally, Luke often worked for 10 hours on Saturdays to keep up with the growing company.

FoxyCartThis hard work and dedication to the vision of FoxyCamp paid off, allowing for Luke to leave his “day job” and now work from home with greater flexibility and freedom than ever before.

Using his own story Luke says starting a company is definitely possible and definitely worth it. But it’s not a challenge to tackle lightly.

People approach Luke saying they want to start their own web-based business, though they lack any sort of web-design skills. As compares it to someone wanting to start a restaurant and doesn’t know what good food tastes like, how to cook or any cooks to hire or talk with. A successful web-based business, requires knowledge of web design best practices, the willingness to hire experts who do, or both.

Listen to the full interview with Luke for more on his entrepreneurial story plus insights into the developer community in Nashville, Tennessee.

This interview was provided by TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that connects buyers and sellers of business technology through meaningful relationships. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.