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The Smell of Success

Figuring out where to save and how to bootstrap can mean the difference between the sweet smell of success and the bitter whiff of defeat.

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This story appears in the May 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Starting a company with nothing can be more intimidating than starting a company with millions. Fabrice Penot, the subject of this month's cover story, knows that better than anyone.

"If someone had given us $2 million to create Le Lebo, we would have spent it," he says. Penot really did start with pretty damn close to nothing: He built Le Labo, his perfume label, with little more than an idea and a lot of passion. Penot left the world of high-end retail perfume (bye-bye, Armani) to launch his own fragrance line with $30,000 in outside funding--an investment funded by a corporate bonus, a hocked car and a chorus of slammed doors.

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