ND Founders Profile #137: These Friend-FouNDers Gave Bootstrapping Their Startups a Fighting Chance and Won!

Author: Melanie Lux

Considine Nadal May 17 Fbweb


Company Founded: K-Optional Software & GETCHO Year Graduated: 2017
Title: Co-founder & Partner Degree: BS, Computer Science
Location: New York, NY Residence Hall: Dillon


Company Founded: K-Optional Software & GETCHO Year Graduated: 2017
Title: Co-founder & Partner Degree: BBA, Finance
Location: New York, NY Residence Hall: Dillon

It’s said that boxing weeds out people who expect quick fixes. The same can be said about the startup life. It isn’t fast and it isn’t easy. And it can humble you in a skinny minute.

Just ask John “Jack” Considine, a former Bengal Bouts champion boxer, and now co-founder with his good friend Evandro Nadal, of several startups. Since 2017, they’ve been pounding the pavement building not just one, but two startups in the tech space. They are a scrappy pair who have ignored the naysayers, leaned into their strengths, searched for and found valuable mentors, and now find themselves leading sustainable businesses with bright futures ahead.

Not bad for a couple of guys, one from Chicago and the other from Argentina, who met at the University of Notre Dame, bonded over boxing and later a burger business, and then, like Sinatra, did it their way by bootstrapping their entrepreneurial enterprises.

Considine’s path to Notre Dame is somewhat typical. He grew up in Chicago, loved Notre Dame football, and pursued his education there because of the school’s growing reputation in Computer Science.

Nadal is a different story. Born in New Zealand and raised in Argentina, he came across Notre Dame quite by accident. He met children of family friends who’d graduated from Notre Dame and was attracted to the school’s reputation for academics and being a close-knit community. After visiting South Bend—a distance of about 6,000 miles from his hometown—Nadal was smitten. Done deal.

The two met in Dillon Hall and soon became fast friends. Considine’s passion was boxing; he was a fierce competitor in Notre Dame’s Bengal Bouts, a fundraiser for the Holy Cross Mission in Bangladesh, all four years. After bowing out early in tournament freshman year, Considine won his weight for the next three years and served as president his senior year. “Bengal Bouts was my biggest experience at Notre Dame. Boxing is such an exciting sport, and the workouts are incredible,” he says.

Nadal also tried his hand at boxing but found club soccer for Dillon more to his liking. “I sparred a few times, got hit in the head and that was enough for me.”

The two had a shared interest in entrepreneurship so in their freshman year, they founded a burger and French fry business they ran out of the Dillon Hall kitchen named K-Optional. The startup had the perfect product-market fit and a captive audience: they served hot, fresh, after-a-night-out comfort food to hungry college students on Saturday nights from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m.

“We were very successful,” smiles Considine. “We started naming our burgers after customers. There was the ‘Tyler Dale,’ which was our triple whopper named for an ROTC student who always requested an extra patty. We also had ‘The Megan’ named after a frequent customer who didn't like cheese.” 

In addition to slinging burgers for two years, the friends started another side gig: doing computer programming projects. Nadal overcame a slight hurdle to participate. As a Finance major, he didn’t know how to code. With Considine’s help, he quickly picked it up and it was off to the races.

When it came time to graduate, Considine and Nadal faced a fork in the road: start adulting and accept jobs with large employers or stay the course with their software development business. Nadal had already made up his mind he was going to stay in the United States, so the choice was easy. Considine needed little convincing, offering his parents’ home in Chicago as their launchpad. Thus, straight out of college, the two pivoted K-Optional, their fast-food startup into a software development firm.

The decision did not sit well in some quarters. Nadal’s parents asked the obvious, “How do you start a business with no capital?”

“I’d never heard about bootstrapping a company, but that’s what we did,” says Nadal. “We had to figure out for ourselves what processes in our business worked without fundraising. I’m happy we did it this way.”

Looking back, Considine is a little more circumspect about the lack of funds. “It was financially irresponsible to start a business. We funded it with credit card debt and stress. It made sense at the time.”

Initially, Considine and Nadal thought they’d make their home base in Silicon Valley. However, after some research they determined the Bay Area was too expensive. Instead, they headed to Austin, which has its own vibrant tech community and is home to the University of Texas. “The ethos of Texas appealed to us—very pro innovation, great lifestyle,” Considine says.

It was also a great place to set up a business. “It took $200 and less than 24 hours to become official. California would have been much more expensive and time consuming,” Nadal says.

Landing clients proved much more labor intensive. The two knocked on doors, used job boards and attended tech meetups to promote their product offering of custom software and automation. Their pitch was helping clients employ the web to make their business leaner, faster and more competitive. After a month of no paying customers, they landed one, Gary’s Woodworking, building an ecommerce solution for his website. Projects with the University of Texas soon followed.

“We found that doing great work for one client turns into another client,” Considine says.

Client acquisition was painfully slow. So in 2021, Considine and Nadal decided to tap into the secret weapon of all Notre Dame graduate: the alumni network. “When we started reaching out to other Notre Dame Alumni, we didn’t realize how great the network was. People who’d graduated 30 years ago would take our cold calls and were willing to help us,” Considine explains.

“One person we reached out to was Nick Schappler who had graduated a year of ahead of us and started a company. Out of the goodness of his heart, he mentored us on a monthly basis and helped us avoid some hard lessons. John Wetzel, who founded and exited Team Gather, was another good mentor. We received great intel from him. The willingness to help was a surprising testament to the caliber of Notre Dame graduates,” he adds.

In 2021, the co-founders made the decision to relocate to New York City, feeling it was the next step up. Their thesis played out as making business connections was much easier. Since relocated K-Optional to the Big Apple, they have experienced eight times growth. “Looking back, I never would have called this, but we found lots more people interested in custom software than in Austin,” Considine says.

Then something unexpected happened. While living in Texas, they developed a software application for a client that is  a ride share for things. The client was too busy to scale it, so Considine and Nadal took it over and continued to develop the application. Thus, GETCHO, a replacement for traditional courier services, was born. By 2022, GETCHO was doing business nationally and is now available for iOS and Android devices. Nadal explains the business proposition.

“By enabling same-day delivery, GETCHO allows local businesses to compete with ecommerce and particularly, Amazon. It’s used to deliver car parts to dealerships and repair shops.  You can use GETCHO to get your laundry or for curbside pickups at Nordstrom. Contractors use GETCHO to pick up materials at Lowes and Home Depot. We’ve also seen a number of ‘hair on fire’ people use it to pick up keys or credit cards they’ll left at a bar.”

GETCHO relies primarily on Use third-party drivers, either individuals who sign up with them or Uber and DoorDash drivers. It’s a great solution for larger cities where people may not own cars or are tourists but holds equal appeal in the suburbs. Who can argue with same day deliveries and very often, deliveries made in an hour or two?

Considine and Nadal have invested main sweat equity into GETCHO, but the app gains new customers every day and enjoys high search rankings. They rank first for Home Depot home delivery, and at times rank higher than Amazon on other searches. While bootstrapping has been their preferred method of financing for K-Optional, the pair admit they might consider a fundraising round for GETCHO based on the app’s organic success to date.

Five years into their post-college ventures, Considine and Nadal say they have faced—and ultimately overcome—many challenges, including naysayers who thought they were spinning their wheels.

“People questioned us all the time,” Nadal says. “They said we were wasting our time and suggested we get jobs in big tech. It was death by a million cuts. But we continued to believe that we weren’t wasting our time even when we’d try ten things and nine would fail. We learned how to rework and knew we were building technical and operational experience.”

With each new project, they faced challenges and learned new lessons. “We trusted  that things would work out and the company would grow,” Considine says. “Although we didn’t have all of the perks of a big job, we kept fighting.”

At times it’s been a slog, but there have been many wins along the way. The company has completed more than 70 development projects, realized $5 million in cost savings for their clients. They now have six full-time people on the payroll who enjoy employee benefits, paid leave and paid vacation time. Even Considine and Nadal now feel comfortable taking time off from work, knowing that the company is in the capable hands of their team.

Says Considine, “Creating a sustainable company is a huge win. We’ve kept the entire K-Optional business lean and affordable, with no room for sloppy shortcuts or brittle software. Best of all, K-Optional and GETCHO have only increased our love of app creation.”

When asked what advice they have for others—including friend duos—who want to start a company, Considine and Nadal offered the following:

“Don’t live on an island; talk to other Notre Dame graduates. Early on, Evandro and I didn’t feel we could ask alumni we didn’t know to mentor us. We finally realized there was no reason not to ask. We did and got some incredible advice and contacts,” Considine says.

Adds Nadal, “Stay open minded about what you want to do. You don’t need to go straight to graduate school or take a big job after you graduate. If you want to take the path less traveled, do it.”