Edit: I noticed there is a Czech version of the post, perhaps it's just a lost-in-translation thing.
This is a human story, not a manifesto or technical thesis. For someone like me who has attempted similar, and have failed similarly, its good simply to know I'm not alone in the emotional roller-coaster these scenarios create. I find it kind of inspirational how he found meaning from seemingly banal events and comical misfortune.
The author made some mistakes, maybe a lot of mistakes, but we all have, and we all will. I'm very happy for you all for your "better" methods for success though :).
Regardless, to anybody who puts in this much time and effort, I sure do wish you the best and hope that project #9 is the one that takes off.
There are many hazards to this approach. I could have simply failed to find anything, and failed. But it's certainly viable.
It looks like we're right back to the bad old days of the dot-com bubble, where there's a total disconnect between the word "startup" and building a business that creates meaningful value for customers.
His idea of a startup seems to map exactly to the old joke:
1) Get funded.
2) Build an UberFaceCrowd clone.
Always annoys me when people who don't know how to do something are adamant that doing what you recommend will "take too long". I don't hit to too much in my own work right now, but plenty of colleagues hit that on a regular basis. "Well, we can't do XYZ because the management said someone else said that would take too long, so we need to finish ABC". WTF? ABC has been in dev for 18 months, is clearly broken, and ... XYZ is a half-done skunkworks project that needs 3 more weeks.
Non-workers who hide behind "that will take too long" need to learn to clearly pronounce "I'm threatened by your knowledge/ability/insight." At least be honest.
On the other hand I understand that it is a business. So the business thinking is „not to throw away what you do last 18 month“.
But as you pointed out, if something doesn't work, you should not be scared of a change. Even if it mean to delete everything what you did and start over.
Start-up success stories are a minority, so this story isn't that out of the ordinary.
THough 11 projects. That is a large number. I'm On my 2nd and half since 2008. My war wounds/stories run from being invited to demo our tech to a huge entity in the valley who baited us out there with promises to buy our tech (they squashed like a bug after spilling our secret) to seeing an original idea i created 6 years finally take off via a European start-up (they have $3 million in funding & millions of users).
I'm too old for this pain!
Well, this was really expensive knowledge.
I have seen first hand that Coca-cola isn't just a soda and Friends is what a good portion of the near east thinks new yorkers are really like.
if not, what were you doing with the 7 projects that failed?
And what we were doing? Well... we were stupid. We were able to produce but not to sell.
1. In average you're giving each project about a year. That's not really enough for determining if something is good or not. It seems like when you're encountering the brick wall that's real world market penetration, you fall out of love with your venture and move on to the next thing.
2. You're focusing on very general problems where it seems like you either don't have a horse in the game (as you're not suffering from those problems personally) and don't have any kind of specialized domain knowledge.
That makes your job much harder. You don't understand the dynamics of the market, the competition or what users are looking for.
3. If you want to win in really big markets, you need to have a strong financial backing from great investors, and make world-class execution. Getting the right idea is never enough. Focus on smaller problems - or at least less alluring ones.
4. Being in the Czech republic doesn't help your ideas get traction, as you're somewhat culturally removed from the trendsetters and the networked individuals who could make your product popular.
5. You can - somewhat - use #4 in your favor by focusing on your local market (and to a lesser extent the EU market). But ultimately good products win globally, which is why its best to think smaller.
6. You may have prevented yourself precious experience and understanding of business processes by going with the startup game too early instead of getting some real world experience first.
7. Don't count on your admirable determination carrying you through. You can only stress yourself so much before something breaks. At some point you're going to need a success to your name. Going to venture #15 might not be enough.
Ultimately I'd advise you to go work for a successful startup somewhere like Berlin, London or ideally Silicon Valley. Go to a place where you can focus the same determination on your dayjob, learn and network. Save some money too.
You need a change. Different people, challenges and atmosphere. Your time and ambition are the most precious thing you have and between these two, one is lost forever and the other can irreparably disappear if siphoned too low. Now, making this change is hard.
The EASY thing, for you, is to start another venture (although it seems the other way around, even to yourself). Don't fall into the trap of starting yet another venture instead of changing your situation around and thinking of yourself as someone who does the hard thing, just because you chose entrepreneurship yet again.
Keeping the same course is always easier than changing things around.
1. Yes! That's exact.
2. You're right, of course. There was always bad reasons why to do some of the projects. The term „spray & pray“ is accurate.
3. Today I would do it differently. We made mistake on every corner we took.
4., 5. We wanted to go out of the Czech Republic, but that phase never happened. Of course, it should be the phase one.
6. This was an ego problem. We thought we're ready. How foolish of us.
You're right. That's actually why I left the WeLoveMail (last project that is still in progress). There have to be some real change.
But hey, thanks again for your advice! I really appreciate it.
Unless the intention wasn't to meet people, but to 'get in the techcrunch'. ??
Actually, the Warszaw story was my wake-up call that we're doing something terribly wrong. And that we're not good enough to make this happen. Since then I knew that this project will go to hell, because we lived in our own bubble how awesome we are.
I really hope this serves as a wake up call to others with your mindset. Your story hopefully will help others make corrections earlier than you did.
Thanks for the story.
Well, thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it!
I do my own side projects from time to time, and seeing what they went through is a real eye opener, maybe I'll be a little less naive when I do launches from now on.
I am glad that they got back to a lean startup model towards the end though, selling someone an idea is such a shaky way to do business (despite the fact that it's used so much), it makes so much more sense to bootstrap at least a little bit (even if it's just drumming up non-paying clientele).
I think we skipped the learning phase by „Fail fast, fail often.“ where we should get better with every small thing we did every day. Instead we taught we're doing it right.
I was inspired by the post, glad you guys worked so hard at making yourselves a success! Also thanks for sharing so initimately the process that you guys went through
What exactly are 'they' saying? Java is a fantastic choice for server-side code.
Nevertheless, "fantastic" wouldn't be how I'd describe my experience. More like this:
The problem was, we didn't know we're faking it back then.
Je n'ai pas de gosses, pas de femme, pas de voiture, pas de crédit. C'est peut-être un peu pompeux ce que je vais dire, mais je préfère mourir debout que vivre à genoux.
For some reason I was really irked when I found out it was something different altogether. I also find it a bit strange that there is a deafening silence about this in the frontpage.