Yesterday Gagan, the co-founder of @udemy shared something powerful on Twitter about his startup @sprig and its failure.
It’s was really thoughtful, transparent and worth a read: https://twitter.com/gaganbiyani/status/1265755248922157066?s=20
I have to admit as a founder who’s had two startups fail I'm guilty of not sharing my lessons publicly… with a 90% failure rate you’d think we’d hear more stories about failure than success.
It seems we’ve created a culture that only shares good things, people don’t want to share failure because of judgement and insecurities.
However I believe the failure rate would be far lower if more people shared their knowledge and experience.
If you touch a stove and burn yourself then let someone else do the same you’ve burnt yourself twice.
Like myself founders tend to keep these failures private. I think it’s time that we start embracing failure because it’s ok to fail.
It’s not ok to not try.
I’ve personally learned more from my failures than I have from the successful startups I’ve created.
Here are some thing’s I’ve learned that I hope help someone.
- Feedback isn’t bad, it’s only bad if you use it all. (It’s not one size fits all, take the parts that work for you)
- Grit and hard work beat luck every time. (We see Stripe, not its journey from /dev/payments)
- People and competition will distract you. (Limit your networking, stay focused)
- If you or your partners don’t have conviction don’t build it. (Burnout will happen and you need to love what you do)
- People join companies that will succeed without them. (This is important when looking for cofounders or employees.)
- 99% of the time you can validate your idea without a product.
- Validate before building (Don’t guess what to build either.)
- You’ll face more challenges if you’re trying to solve a problem you don’t have or had.
- You’ll spend more time fundraising if you don’t have validation, domain experience or traction. (Focus on these first)
- Don’t bring big org bureaucracy to your startup. (It’s an advantage to be agile, adaptable and make changes quickly)
- Love the process, it’s gonna be a long journey. (Take breaks and find that thing that keeps your tank full)
- Your role as founder is similar to a firefighter, Find the fires and put them out before they burn the house down.
- Set expectations early, keep your communication transparent.
- Keep your burn rate as low as possible.
- One bad apple can ruin your culture and poison your company. (Hire people with a winning track record who have done the job before)
- If it’s easy to build, you’ll have a lot of competition. (Be prepared to answer what’s your moat)
- What works for others might not work for you. (Just because X has a Podcast doesn’t mean you need one.)
- Avoid trying to sell to the rainbow, discover a color being underserved and build the best experience for them.
- Don’t be scared to share your ideas, if it’s that easy to copy, you haven’t found your moat. (They can copy your idea but not your brand or culture)
- Don’t copy the competition, they could be doing it wrong too.
I'd love to hear what others can share from their failures.sel