We started our journey in the wrong direction and we failed to change direction with time.\r\n\r\nThe craze of startups\u00a0has influenced people to such an extent that\u00a0everyone wants to start their own company. People read success stories but ignore the fact that more than 90% companies fail within 3 years of operation. Our startup,\u00a0SchoolGennie,\u00a0is one such startup that never lived to see the light of day, which we had started in 2013 but had to shutdown earlier this year in 2014.\r\n\r\nI wanted to share the top seven reasons for our startup's failure.\r\nNo Market Validation\r\nWe wanted to build a Zomato like platform for school listings & reviews but later realized that parents research for schools around admission days only. Then we thought of doing something else for the education industry. With little knowledge about schools, we decided to build an online collaboration platform for parents and teachers. We thought that this was a much desired product which can help build great relationships between parents and schools.\r\nDo market research (product-market fit) before writing the first line of code\r\nWe sowed the first seed of failure when we started building the product without validating product-market fit. We could have done better things if we had few school signed up before starting product development.\r\nWaiting for the perfect product launch\r\nIn my experience, there is no perfect product in startups. My suggestion is to keep on building and keep on releasing. We were not aware of the Lean Startup concept which says, Build fast\u200a\u2014\u200aFail fast\u200a\u2014\u200aFail cheap, and keep iterating until you succeed. Unfortunately, we kept investing time in building an awesome product with great user experience and mind blowing features.\r\nLaunch an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) as early as possible and keep improving the product with feedback from early customers\r\nWe could have saved a lot of resources with an early launch of the product. Customers should have been given an opportunity to test a demo version, even with a shitty user experience and half baked features. We spent almost half a year to come up with the first demo account, which could have been done in the first month itself.\r\nFollowing in the foot steps of Competitors\r\nWhen we finally launched our product, we were confronted with the harsh reality. Customers were not interested in our offering at all. We then started looking out for what our competitors were selling. This was the opportunity to focus on our USP (unique selling proposition) but we started building what our competitors was already selling.\r\nFocus on something you are very good at\u200a\u2014\u200abut your competitors are not\r\nWe hired people from our competitor\u2019s sales team, we tried to sell with a similar pitch, we prepared similar marketing material, we even tried to align our product features with the competitor's. Our efforts, however, failed because we could not compete with competitor at points where they were good at\u200a\u2014\u200abut we were not!!\r\nSpending money on unwanted things\r\nWe spent too much on unwanted things like an office, furniture and electrical appliances. We could have optimized expenses by running operations from our home.\r\nSpend money only if it helps in releasing software faster, test faster (customer acquisition) or pivot faster\r\nStartups have to\u00a0spend money on hiring talent\u00a0and there is no alternate unless you have time to do things yourself. Actually money was\u00a0not the\u00a0primary reason for our failure. Rather we could have done much more with same amount of money, like hiring more smart developers to build & test our product faster.\r\nLack of Vision\r\nUltimately we lost track of the vision!! We forgot why we had started the company in the first place and where it should be in two years or five years. We were saying something and doing something else. We wanted to collect student data from 1000's of schools but we were trying to sell to top schools only. We did not have a clue of our key growth metrics, unit economy, sales conversion ratios or product road-map.\r\nStartups should keep an eagle-eye focus on it's\u00a0Vision\u00a0and keep changing strategies and products to achieve the end goal.\r\nThe influence of wrong kind of people also disturbed our thought process. We discussed things with people who had no prior startup experience but they were successful in corporate jobs. My suggestion is,\u00a0do not\u00a0follow the advice of corporate guys. I am not saying they are wrong but things work differently in startups.\r\nStartups have to explore their own growth path, don\u2019t be afraid to experiment with new things.\r\nDelayed decisions\r\nI believe every startup reaches a stage where hard decisions have to be taken. Delay in making these decisions can have a negative impact on a startup's growth. Founders should sit together, discuss deeply about issues, take firm decisions and move on!! There are good decisions and there are bad decisions. No decisions are just bad decisions.\r\n\r\nIf founders are clear about what they want to achieve, then they can take quick and efficient decisions. Otherwise they take a decision one night and the next morning want to change it again. This indecisiveness can be really harmful.\r\n\r\nSomething similar happened with us when we were to decide for sales partnerships, establishing new sales channels, our product roadmap, equity allocation to team members, pivoting the product and finally during the critical decision of running or shutting down the company.\r\n\r\nWith time, we (founders) had differences in our thought process. One of us wanted to try new unexplored things and the others wanted to follow processes of big successful companies. One of us believed in open culture, where anyone can contribute in any area, but others believed in a closed culture where two teams (dev & sales) should not share know-hows of each other.\r\n\r\nThis friction and lack of cohesiveness was also the reason for delayed decisions. Hence one more step towards the death of our startup!!\r\nNo Mentors\r\nA startup should genuinely invest time in finding good mentors. We could not find mentors for our-self or honestly we did not try hard enough. Mentors can be really helpful in critical times when a startup needs expert advice, connections into new networks and resolving internal conflicts.\r\n\r\nWe are no longer working on SchoolGennie but it has been a great journey so far. I am really grateful to my co-founder\u00a0Amit, who trusted my capabilities and gave me the opportunity to work with him. He was instrumental in bringing me out of corporate world\u00a0and introducing me to amazing world of startups.\r\n\r\nFailures are not always bad if we know how to handle the post-failure situation and apply it's learnings in future endeavours.\u00a0On the upside, I now know some of the ways things don\u2019t work and I will avoid repeating my mistakes. SchoolGennie's experience actually helped me getting into my current startup,\u00a0PocketScience, where I joined as a co-founder.