We made a lot of mistakes in our first startup which led to its failure. We were like every other undergraduate student. We were motivated to build a business while in college and even skipped our college placements.
People say ‘Startup is like jumping off the cliff and then building a parachute before you hit the ground’. In our case, we did jump off the cliff but didn’t bring the tools to build the parachute. Sigh.
Here are my learnings from my first startup failure
- Plan and validate – Don’t start something because you ‘feel’ it’s right. Go out. Get your hands dirty. Do some market research. Find out the problem that your customer segment is facing and does your solution really alleviate the problem. Get your idea validated.
- Find a great Co-Founder – It’s certain that you cannot possess all the knowledge of the world. It’s wise to start with a co-founder, but don’t start with any co-founder; your best friend may not be your best co-founder. Find someone with a complementary skill set.
- Don’t fall in love with your prototype – We are entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to fall in love with our creation. We have to keep in mind that it’s a prototype. Prototypes are meant to be changed. They have to evolve with the customer feedback.
- Define your end user – We failed to define our end users and built our product without any clear direction. We ‘assumed’ that our users (students) will love this product, they didn’t.
- Don’t run after revenue – Revenue should always be a by-product of your startup and not a primary goal. Build your product so that your end users love it, ‘like’ is not an option.
- Advertising is a bad option – We did it. We failed. Word of mouth is all that you need. If your product is amazing, don’t worry about ‘advertising’, your end users will spread the news for you. They will do anything to tell their peers how awesome your product is. Ask these questions before you advertise- ‘what is wrong with our product?’ and ‘why there is no word of mouth?’.
- Ask why we are doing this? Your why has to be larger than your what, else, you will lose interest and the startup will fail.