Not everyone with a php+mysql project at school is the next Mark Zuckerberg. What do founders of startups do after it's closed? Do they start another company immediately? Consulting? Do they give up on the dream? Are you a founder or know anyone with failed startup(s)? Share your experiences. Thanks for the answers!
I have failed more times then I succeeded and in most situation I would go back to salaried/contractual work, relax for some time enjoying 9-to-5 working hours, rebuild financials, get bored, start it all over. I think taking a break is the most important part as it gives time to recharge, analyze what went wrong and do better next time.
Here is my stories :) First of all i am happy to find such form where i can share my failure. Failing in your SOLE STARTUP is believe me the HARDEST thing one can have in life especially when you stop sleeping and working day and night to change your life from 9am to 6pm boring working routine.
I am having no shame in saying that i failed 3 times and every time it was due to only one reason.
I was having no mentor or senior around me with whom i can take business advice.
So first time : I got opportunity to run offshore office. I hired resources with no background business knowledge. Team size went to 30 in 3 years and suddenly CEO quit operations due to his own fight with sales team. I had to fire 30 resources because i was having 0 capital with me. Yes 0 capital. Client gone so all end that second.
Second time : Start pitching ideas to investors and everyone said that visit us when this start making money. I was not state of investment as i was having no cash. After few months, i found one of those investors build my idea and launch in market with his name.
Third time: I learnt that capital is important and also working product is more valuable so i got an other investor who asked me to hire team for him. After 3 months he directly contacted with team member saying i am paying him $x amount and he is paying you $x/2 so come work with me directly.
and that is how i am facing these failure. Yes it is my dream to build my startup and grow it but the journey is very very hard.
After all of this , yes their is disappointment somewhere inside me but i am taking it as learning and hoping that try try again will work and i am not going to QUIT. Never say never.
Literary i am feeling so relax and comfortable after writing all this here as i joined this platform for first time so that i can share my learning and learn from other and happy to move forward.
My 10 year startup imploded about 1.5 years ago. We were an online stock media marketplace. Self-funded/Bootstrapped. Had about 1,000,000 products online and competed with some of the biggest stock media companies in the world. The company, while it looked very large was quite small and automated.
About 6 years in we were sued by a very well known and notorious patent troll. As a small bootstrapped company, we couldn't afford to settle and couldn't afford to fight. Hung on for a couple of years when I was able to get the suit dismissed which is a crazy story by itself.
So much damage was done during that period unfortunately. A perfect storm of sorts. Up until the suit we had constant growth, but that was the beginning of the end. Held on 2 more years until everything eventually fell apart.
So, you know when people get asked the question, "What would you do if you had to start over from ground zero?" Yeah... That was me... Literal ground zero.
I had a bit of an entrepreneurial ego that I wish I did not have. I started and grew 2 successful businesses in about 16 years, so it had been a long time since I had a real job. To me, that was NOT an option. I absolutely had to succeed on my own.
I have a number of start-up ideas and that was the ultimate goal. I began to get one off the ground, but realized I had to make money first. So, I started a digital marketing company. Bootstrapping and building companies from ground zero meant I had a lot of real world experience in a lot of areas from PPC, to video production to coding to design. I can do them all and reasonable well.
The problem was, I felt like I could get local clients faster, but I had no networking experience. My companies were all built online. It took me some time to realize that most local businesses use internet marketing as a way to add to their book of locally networked business. They don't use it as their foundation. Once I started networking, I started to get some regular clients and now that I have those I am starting to kick in my digital marketing plan to keep things growing.
However.... starting up again is my goal...
It took me a year before things started looking up. It was a VERY hard year. Without a doubt, the hardest year I have ever had to go through. Intensely humbling, but good. Everything is a learning experience. I know for sure, that if it ever happens again, I will be ready and I know so much more than I did before this happened.
Hope this helps. Happy to answer any questions.
In my first start-up, when we got the celebrities on board for the TV show, we hit the roof. They actually talked to nobodies like us. After we found out that HBO had thrown MILLIONS of dollars behind a very similar show that we were pitching to them at the same time (unbeknownst to us), we cried in our soup. The project ended. In my second start-up, when we were working on bringing a fuel additive to market, we lost a huge investment and our hearts sank. It was stolen from us (literally) by a man falsifying research reports. I twisted and turned in my sheets, damning God and cursing the world, but one day, I realized something: it doesn't matter. The money wasn't mine. The investors who gave it to us knew the risks, despite our best efforts to manage them. I also realized I didn't die, my wife didn't hate me, my family didn't think I was (that much) of a lunatic. I landed on my feet and into an officer role (#2 spot) in a 3rd start-up (of someone else's creation). #3 failed because the product was terrible. I took the job because the pay was good and I thought if I got my hands on a team, they and I could re-vamp the image and make it sellable. Only problem: the CEO's head was as hard as a bag of rocks. He wouldn't listen to any suggestions. It was his way or the highway, which never works. The #4 start-up was a computer translation program. I raised about $5k in investment capital for design, but it wasn't enough. I had to give the money back, so nothing happened. #5 was my present start-up, Blaine & Gonzalez, which is no longer a start-up. This one is the success story. With over 20 recurring clients, 15 members, and service to major corporations like Amazon, the US Federal Government, JD Sports, and more, we are proud to be where we are today. The company's revenue has grown 900% over the past six years. We are preferred vendors in 6 states and are completing our Federal preferred vendor application by the end of 2017 and will be on the Federal schedule in 2018 and eligible to bid on huge government contracts. So, what's it all mean? It means that you have to never give up, no matter what. If you are truly in this game we all love playing, then you have to put your heart, your time, and your money on the line over and over again until your business succeeds. One of my favorite quotes is: "97% of the people work for the 3% who never give up." It took me a decade to make it into that 3%. Washing dishes, working at grocery stores, and even at a VIDEO store. (Remember those?) I drove a limo as well, which for those of you who don't know is like a long, black Uber, but the driver wears a suit ;) The point is - we ALL have it is us to be great. I love reading the stories of other co-founders on this site. Such inspiring stuff. Keep up the good work. Signed: an old guy who failed a million times and finally succeeded.
Statistically speaking Mark and every other unicorn founder doesn't exist. They are multiple decimal places to the right of zero and thus nothing like the middle of the bell curve.
The middle of the curve is changing companies every 3-7 years, trying different verticals, contributing to open source, and raising their kids :-)
Successful founders tend to be more product management types than engineers - finding that market/product fit being the most important part of the game.
In my context, No one ever FAILED, Everyone either WIN or get a LESSON and an EXPERIENCE which gives an Entrepreneur a new kick to start following their dream.
If they know their Aim, their Destination, they should follow that path might get wrong but don't leave to follow your destination
CHANGE YOUR PATH AND FOLLOW YOUR DREAM / DESTINATION
I have partially failed once, came back to the level zero, I was not aware of certain technologies, I started learning them, arranged all the negative feedback, started redrawing the entire scenario, invested more time understanding how the market works and how to integrate your new idea with an existing market, took special care of user experience and BINGO...Now I have a much superior product, it might fail but my quest will never fail. I will try till the end, but yes after a failure I don't become stubborn and instead arrange an alternative financial solution (may be a job / par-time / freelancing) just to support myself.
They startup another one
Well from my experience, I had to refocus, retool then try again in another venture. So after my first start up failed. I got a Job and didn't work on any new project for a while (around 18 months). After a while, I started to look at different projects I wanted to work on, develop some proof of concept and tried to get mentor ship early out. Once I found a project that I was passionate about again, I worked with organization like Founder Institute to get it right the second time.
Still have a ways to go but that what I did when my start-up failed.