BootStrapCampJuly09 5August is meant to be a quiet month, but it definitely isn’t here – things are starting up left, right and centre. I like that.

I’m generally a fan of starting things, especially starting them with minimal means. I know that might sound less than exciting, but my experience has been that creativity starts where budgets run out – constraints can be one of the greatest spurs to creativity.  That, in a nutshell, is probably the main reason for last week’s Bootstrap Camp.

It’s a tough environment for startups at the moment, with VC money hard to come by and customer budgets tightened, so a little bit of creativity – and boot strapping – is called for. Boot strapping means starting up with what you have at hand. I first came across the term when I started designing computers back in the 80’s. It was used to talk about starting the system up from bare essentials to the point where it was fully functional, having loaded its operating system and connected to its support peripherals. It is an apt term to use for getting a business or project started these days. Grab what you have, and use it to connect to the resources you need.

BootStrap Camp is a community, and now an online service too, built and supported by a network of entrepreneurs from the UK’s digital sector. Its main aim is to help early-stage entrepreneurs and startups boot strap their businesses, by exchanging skills and knowledge. Last week’s meeting, hosted by the inimitable Stewart Townsend and Simon Grice, saw the launch of the new application. As an added incentive, Ben Keene was on hand to offer up to 25 weeks on Vorovoro (the Island in Fiji, South Pacific) in exchange for development, design and deployment service. Although personally he won me over with a copy of his book. I’m a sucker for books and food, but I digress…

The service enables entrepreneurs to list their needs and offers of services, it then enables them to find members with matching needs or offers. The demonstration video shows how it works today:

For me, the BootStrap Credits aren’t the main thing here, rather it is the concept of a community of entrepreneurs that can tangibly support each other. Community trading is much stronger than point to point trade, and potentially provides a richer form of protection for the businesses involved. A reputation with a community is more valuable than a reputation with a single individual or business. A connected community also offers greater opportunities to create value and discover opportunities.

If you want to get involved, then follow @bootstrapcamp on twitter and request access to the Wiki, and dive on in.

Benjamin’s Photos from Bootstrap Camp