This is a famous quote by the co-founder and CEO of Dropbox
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” –Drew Houston, Dropbox co-Founder and CEO
This sums up everything about why failure is not the worst thing. But not trying is surely one of the excuses for not doing, cause unless you try, you do not learn, so keep trying is important even if you fail.
The story began in 2011 during our final year at IIT Kharagpur with the conceptualisation of dateIITians for the IIT/IIM Network to let them connect with interesting people. dateIITians was launched in Jan 2012 before even Tinder, Truly Madly, Happn or Woo entered the market.
dateIITians was one of the most popular first of its kind social dating platform. The platform was a big success but due to lack of our understanding of entrepreneurship, funding (cause we were students) and did not know scaling, we shut down the product after few months, though it still has significant reach online.
After we graduated, we started understanding and researched about the market, saved money, and again started working but we did not understand that we were already too late in the market. Even then we made another mistake by working on a web platform than a mobile platform and burnt a lot.
At the end of 2014, we realised that the important thing is to build an online social dating app focussed on location intelligence and we again started building (we did not accept defeat but did not understand the market trend well) the app and launched around Oct 2015. There were many things new in the business model no tried before by anyone through.
As we created an online to offline model in dating with seamless planning and meeting with partnerships with Dineout, Zomato, Uber, Ola, BookMyShow etc., and also built intelligence tools to make this happen.
We spent a lot on technology building and did not focus much on marketing as well, as we thought once our awesome technology is ready the consumer will drive towards the product automatically with earlier dateIITians brand.
Why We Shut Down
Our assumptions were proved false and we did not achieve the growth we were expecting. We could reach 47K downloads on COGXIO and 2K on dateIITians (after the relaunch in July 2016) but the best thing was this all achieved organically. We even had a search of 500K-600K per month on our COGXIO Web Platform because of its strong brand presence.
We spent in crores in this sector to build the product and executed to the market but the expectations did not match in terms of growth. The team built everything from scratch in-house but failed to execute as needed.
We introduced many new things to the market but were eventually copied by existing businesses in the online dating sector.
On July 15, 2016, we decided to shutdown cogxio & dateiitians based on various factors including unit economics, the current market, lagging in the industry and more.
Another reason was fundraising too cause of already existing new players in the market (all the players are struggling in the market today too). The main reason being too much investment is needed on consumer marketing in this sector and yet customer retention is a significant problem.
What we think is that there will be a different kind of online dating market in the next 3-5 years in India, more focussed on online to offline, social interaction, leveraging other industries as benefits for online dating users and allowing open access. The culture in India is changing, people are getting more matured to try online dating apps but it still will take next 3-5 years to actually see the use of online dating apps in India, so if the businesses in this sector have patience for next 3-5 years, they will win based on they have enough fund to invest as well.
There were lots of learnings during this time while building a product, launching and executing in the market. During this journey, many people came into our lives and many went, we had both sweet and bitter experiences, built a strong network of like-minded people around.
We learnt how to spent money wisely, how to build products on time, how to get right team, what to be build that is beneficial on mass level, building something that changes the way people communicate, discuss, live life and more.
Finally, I would say that it was an eventful and excellent journey all together that made us what we are right now. Even after we failed in our two attempts, it did not stop us from trying to build something more awesome and useful.
We used all the learning, research, process, and understanding to our new product which is a complete B2B artificial intelligence (AI) platform focussed on cross-industry intelligence in real time called Artivatic. This product will be launched in November/December 2016.
Another product, which is for consumers, is built on Artivatic technology and called ‘LIVEONGO’ – connected with users’ smart devices in real life to enable them to make decisions in real-time.
And we are looking forward to the exciting journey ahead.
[This post by Layak Singh first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]