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27 Comments

What do founders of failed startups do?

Life after startup! What do founders of failed startups do?

The startup news is one-sided. Not everyone is the next Mark Zuckerberg. What do founders of startups do after the business is closed? Do they start another business immediately? Consulting? Run side projects? Do they give up on the dream? Do you know anyone with failed startup(s)? Share your experiences & observations. In the meanwhile here is one option I can recommend if you are in that transition - https://www.founders.careers/

PS - If you are looking for recruiting a founder material candidate to grow your business, https://www.founders.careers/ is the place to go.

#startup #founders #startups #entrepreneurship #entrepreneurs

  1. 5

    Let me tell you what I have experienced doing this for a good 20 years. The first thing you need to know is that it's not always "fail, fail, succeed, ride off into the sunset" it is just as likely to be "succeed, fail, fail, fail, flop around like a fish, be unemployable, then succeed or keep failing and chasing the dream till your dead". Why? Because life is random, the market doesn't care and all that matters is that you find the thing that delivers value more efficiently than the status quo and/or the competition. Do that and you win, fail to do it and you lose. It is exactly as simple as that.

    Also, not all startups fail, some succeed and then fail, or they fizzle, or you can't keep up, the economy hits you, technology changes, you stop building and ride the success thinking you're going forward but your foundation is dissolving every day.

    You try other things, build other things, but you lack the urgency and the clarity that comes with bare-bones bootstrapping. This causes new projects to not get the full attention they deserve so they fail.

    If everything dries up and you have been at this for years you are a generalist in a world that hires specialists. Companies want sled dogs but you have been off the chain so long you are "unemployable" (as my handle says). Companies don't value entrepreneurial experience. Find a job ad that says "previous business ownership experience a must".

    So you do "civilian" work like starting a web dev agency, work as a freelancer, plug in wherever you can, get your skills current, build something new and repeat the cycle with the correct level of hunger and much more experience.

    What I don't see happening is people who are really bit by the entrepreneurial bug, real risk-takers, giving up. They keep banging their head against the wall till they figure out how to go around it. It's not for everyone, it's not romantic, it has highs and lows that are extreme. Once you get far into it you never want to stop.

    So go find a BIG MARKET that has a problem people would PAY to make go away, so that THEY are happier and do it with a solution that is simple enough for you or your tiny team to build, market, manage and grow.

    That's the recipe - it's right in front of everyone's face! It almost fits on that paper strip inside of a fortune cookie! The problem is that so does "build three pyramids" LOL.

  2. 5

    Hi @shashank, I'm here and alive. I'm a loser and I'm proud of that, maybe not so proud about my failures, but more about my experience before failure. From an experience that failed I learned things and that is important for me.

    I failed a few times before, not from a rocket, maybe only from a desk level :D. My last experience was with https://customenu.ro/en/ which is a digital menu platform, where restaurants can set up their menu and generate a QR code. The problem was validation and the problem was not so big through the eyes of restaurant managers, at least not in a pandemic situation.

    I still consult for my agency https://cmevo.com and I'm looking for my next adventure. So give me a follow here or on Twitter if you'd like to check my experience.

    1. 1

      Hey your idea about online menus is awesome, I have seen it being used in many restaurants during the pandemic, Not sure if it was your product, Why did you gave up or are you generating any revenue right now?

      1. 1

        There are a lot of solutions, and the technical implementation is very simple. Right now the project is more dead than alive. I stopped doing this because I found no interest into this. I live in Romania and I tried to introduce the product here.

        I've made a bad market research, I found few competitors and I thought it's enough space. I tried cold email, fb ads, social media posts, seo, but the interest for the subject was not enough. They cannot see any value in this or I don't presented well, but neither my competitors are doing better.

        1. 1

          Oh ok, Thanks for replying!

    2. 1

      Just followed your Twitter with my Twitter account for www.tractionmate.com Are you looking to revive/revamp or tweak your project - https://customenu.ro/en ?

      1. 1

        I don't see any market interest in Romania, where I launched the project. So for the moment, I would say no.

        1. 1

          Tweak the business model based on their pain points.

          1. 1

            My product can be only an extension for their pain points. As I could understand, the most problem for them is a food delivery app, which maybe charges less than Uber Eats, Glovo, FoodPanda, Bolt, or other solutions.

            Having this said, a digital menu can be only an extension for this kind of product/solution.

            At least for the moment, I would like to try something different.

  3. 4

    Hi @shashank!

    Entrepreneurs should not be afraid of failures. One of my favorite venture capitalists (Guy Kawasaki) says, that:

    "most start-ups fail" and "most executives write ''glamorous biographies'' that hail their successes, while ignoring their blunders".

    I think that there are two paths:

    1. Fail fast, start over, repeat.
    2. Or... constantly improve your product, and don't give up.

    I'm on the second path for more than 20 years that started as a side project. It is - automation software project - https://www.febooti.com/
    And only in recent years it started paying off. So at the first years it was a failure or a hobby... but if you believe in your idea, then one day you may become the next Mark Zuckerberg. And the big success usually comes overnight... after working hard for years :D

    1. 1

      @Wishmesh I am just curious. Are you still building new side projects?

      1. 1

        Yes. Me and my friend built a gaming fan site last year: https://vgraphs.com/

        It had about 323,397 unique users this year (still about 2k uniques per day). We kinda abandoned it... not improving anymore mainly:

        1. I don't feel community support / need for it.
        2. Google ADS revenue is very tiny.
        3. And we probably expected something much bigger out of it...
  4. 3

    Sold my startup for 6 figures. Relative failure considering time invested on low salary.

    It gave me experience and respect to continue my engineering career without a degree. Currently earning twice the amount my startup was acquired for per year. I realized that there are other ways to build financial success than startup world.

    Happy to continue in corporate world for now.

  5. 2

    Having failed with my startup (so far), I've taken a few days off (2 actually). Then I started looking at other ideas and am now researching to build a new project.

    I had to stop my project due to financial issues, so now I've also resumed freelancing, so as to get cash in the bank to finance my next project.

    That's about it :)

    1. 1

      http://2021-techies-survey-side-projects.tractionmate.com
      Hey, would you like to take this survey? It will take less than 5 mins.

  6. 2

    It all depends to the mindset of the person who didn't reach their startup goal(s). You can absolutely see failure as a sign to stop with the entrepreneurial life and do something else (consulting is a common way to keep working in the same environment without working on your own projects), but you can as well see it as lessons and figure out how to do better for your next project(s).

    I know people who stopped their activities in running startups, and others who jumped on other projects they had in mind. And you can stop and start again a long time afterwards, there is no rule, you just follow your guts!

    I hope you won't find this answer too generic and that it will help at least a bit :)

  7. 1

    Just stay where they are?

    I don't plan to be the next Zuckerberg. I plan to make 1 million/recurring revenue a year: that's plenty, and blows my current income out of the water. No doubt, Zuckerberg wouldn't be interested in acquiring such a small co. - and I'm not seeking him out.

    So, I'll keep plugging away at my projects, hoping one works. If it doesn't, I'll keep staying at my job, until retirement, or death. But if it works, I'll change plans.

  8. 1

    Rot? /sarcasm
    If you are emotionally invested, experiencing long bouts of self-reflection and questioning of one's believe system (my favourite is the implicit belief in equitable outcomes), bordering depression. I would argue that most critical things in life can not be simply delineated into "learning outcomes", most of it is due to confluence of factors outside your control, call it bad/good luck.
    Then you either pick yourself up for another spin at the roulette wheel or go back to sanitised workplace, where the uncertainty (bad/good luck) is hidden behind the facade of KPI metrics, created by somebody more fortunate then you 🤷‍♂️
    If it was just a side kick, congrats, you just got experience points.

  9. 1

    Failure is a part of the process. Lots of founders failed with their first initial ideas and pivoted to something much better.

    What really matters is how long you can go for before you decide to look at other opportunities. 5 years? 10? Forever?

    Asides from startups there are plenty of other life paths that offer a good amount of fulfilment and financial freedom.

  10. 1

    I just started a new project :) You can find the reasons for that in my blog post here: https://pirsch.io/blog/introduction/

  11. 1

    Dust your shoulders off and get back to work.

    Failures are part of life, they just have a bad rep and that's the reason most people don't even bother trying.

    As long as you reflect and learn the right things you're on the right track.

  12. 1

    Speaking of myself. I have a couple of projects with big failure, I had two big crashes where I lost a lot of invested money. I was just taking a couple of weeks or moth of a break to refresh. And then I just starting to work on something new. Just never stock with your failure, skip it and keep going to your new advanture, in my opinion, this is the best way to get back on track.

  13. 1

    Now I treated it as a lesson learnt rather than failing. Failing to me implies that you didn't even try in the first place.

    Failing creates negative connotation in my mind ;)

  14. 1

    Experiencing failure first hand is why I created this newsletter
    https://beyondthefailure.substack.com/ a place to share content about failed entrepreneurs who learned valuable lessons which contributed to future success.

    However with the newsletter, it's a one-to-many connection, I am looking to possibly creating a community on Circle that will be more interactive where members can chat with each other.

    The point is failure is natural and an important stepping stone to growth. In order to benefit from failure, I think thought has to be given to what went wrong and why. Without that, you won't learn much and will carry on repeating mistakes.

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