This Slogging thread by Arthur Tkachenko, Limarc Ambalina, richard-kubina, Amy Tom, Rianke Krugel, Utsav Jaiswal and Natasha Nel occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Feel free to Ask Me Anything about How To Fail Your Startup (Feb 18th, 12PM MT)
What was your first startup? And why did it fail?
@Limarc Ambalina "Startups": very wide term, right?
when I was 22 - I quit my coding job and decide to start my own company. We were providing outsourcing services - mostly getting clients from Elance(Upwork).
company name: NetWeight.
< why did it fail?
We fail because we want to fail. I didn't have any prior experience in management or sales or finances at that time. I even was not able to talk to my clients in English. So we run our company mostly by intuition.
We made bad decisions.
And a major reason why we fail - we just run out of money. You know - when you have a team that you should care about: you need to plan all expenses and be ready for anything.
Was there a big risk trying a start up? Did you have any sort of security net to catch you if you fall?
< Was there a big risk trying a start up?
For the first few years: not a lot. I mean 0 personal risks. But this is a beauty for being young and stupid, right? I actually think that my biggest risk was not to starting that company. Where I'll be right now, without it? Probably not here, replying to AMAs questions :)
< Did you have any sort of security net to catch you if you fall?
Do you mean something called a "financial pillow"? if yes - nope, we wasted all dimes that we have. And most of our energy as well 🙂
And I don't think having a lot of security is good for your mindset. Because you need to be fit in order to perform. Like, imagine any Olimpic winner - all of them pushing their limits.
On the other side - when you have a plan and some money in your bank account - it's less stressful. you know, like insurance. You know that when a bad day will come - you'll be fine.
Ah yeah, I think I know what you mean.. it's good to have that pressure to bust your ass and make it happen. and having constraints is great for creativity in problem-solving or even artistically :thumbsup:
So will there be (or is there) another startup in the works?
Do you think that you are more or less likely to fail with a business partner vs a solo startup?
< So will there be (or is there) another startup in the works?
For sure! when we finally killed this horse - I have a lot of free time. And I want to build few projects, related to food-tech field. I have cool cocktail of knowledge there. So probably I'll continue to pursue my ideas at some point in the future.
But I dont want to build one company and sold it at some point
What is the biggest one lesson that you would impart to first time founders when it comes to embracing failure?
I wish to build something similar to holding:
It will keep teams very simple and focused on one task/product. They also can collaborate and have discounts. So if I get an offer to sold one company - I still can be in the game with other companies.
< Do you think that you are more or less likely to fail with a business partner vs a solo startup?
I think building a small business is like raising a baby. So it requires a lot of attention. And 2 parents. And grannies and granddads.
But again, it's only connected to a small company. For a big company - I'll probably give up a huge amount of equity/money to a person that actually knows how to be a CEO. While it's cool to change jobs and positions - imagine this situation: you hire a CEO - that was CEO for the last 15 years in 5 different companies? This is a vast experience.
My experience was tied with my business partner. Actually - it was his idea - I just thought it would be funny to build a company 🙂
And we separated our responsibilities - I was running operational cycles. He was focusing on strategy, grows and sales. But when you start something new - you need to understand that partners have equal roles, and you should have unbreakable trust.
So if you have any doubts - it's a no sign.
It's scary to do something when you alone. I think companies with few founders have more chances to succeed. Because you need someone who will be on your side, right?
I'm solo now - and I'm doing everything slowly.
< What is the biggest one lesson that you would impart to first time founders when it comes to embracing failure?
Don't listen to anyone. There no playbook. Just focus, hustle and have fun - we have only 1 life, right?
Failing is an experience. Instead of reading books - you can feel it by your skin.
If you want to move upstairs - you need to start and don't give up.
Like even if your family wants you the best - if they don't have entrepreneurship experience - you should filter all advices.
i.e. if you want to build a company like Hackernoon - you should listen to David Smooke, not to your granny 😉
cc @Rianke Krugel
Let me throw some positive stories here. I think this thread can be much funnier.
Oh course haha. Now that you know what you know about Hacker Noon. How would you use Hacker Noon to grow a startup?
< How would you use Hacker Noon to grow a startup?
quick answer: I'll tell a story and get some views 😉
Well, I get hired. I wouldn't accept any offer just because I just need money.
I was part of the community a long time ago. But now I have responsibilities here.
What I realize after doing code for few years: nobody cares about my code or about my experience. In order to do something - you should be visible. Like we wouldn't meet with you just because I pushed some code on GitHub.
But you can open my account on Hackernoon - and my stories can tell you a lot about me.
Monkeys evolved because we tell stories and share experiences. I'll put content marketing first. Cool code is a long way to get clients or attention.
Going back to your question:
I published 80 articles => Now I'm part of HN crew. What will be accomplished after 150 articles? Let's see.
Wow you published 80 articles on Hacker Noon? Ok I will catch up to you this year
Limarc Ambalina I still need to migrate some of my articles.
Probably I need some help - not a lot of results from April 2020
We all watching Landing on Mars, right? 🚀🚀🚀🚀 I'm still accepting questions for the next few days, so feel free to post them, even if you late to our party
What are the major changes that have come up in the startups space between when you first started (2002) and now (2021)?
How do you know when you have failed, vs. when you should stick it out and keep going?
I'll answer Natasha Nel question first.
< How do you know when you have failed, vs. when you should stick it out and keep going?
I think everyone can find this answer in their heads. But we also need to know that we are humans and everybody has bad days. Sometimes you need to wait few days or have sleep, or just eat.
So if an "entrepreneur" has a bad day - it doesn't mean that you need to close your business tomorrow. The battle is finished when you consider it finished.
I can speak only about my own experience. It takes me more than a year to settle everything in my head and finally realize that it's time to move on. Before that, I made few attempts to restart everything. This time was very important for me. I did some moves, that probably shaped me.
< What are the major changes that have come up in the startups space between when you first started (2002) and now (2021)
I think I started in 2012 mostly, so my knowledge is limited.
Plus, being outside the USA startup bubble means that you can't just make a quick visit and talk about some deals. While right now everybody is fine with calls, emails, and online payments - it was a bit harder back then.
At least for me.
I think it's much easier to promote your startup. I also adore that everybody gets more funding options. It's much easier than before. At least in my brain.
From my perspective -> I grow up, and I lower my imagination about product quality and everything. I get that I can be lazy but also productive. I can do my own thing and don't follow any basic guidelines.
Like before, I was thinking about investments. I even spend time talking to people. Right now don't think it's necessary to "waste any air". If your product is online and it has real value -> people will buy it.
And you don't need to convince everybody about quality. For sure, marketing is essential. But I'm still more leaning toward product rather than sales, personally.
I was also bothered about how to receive payments or how to incorporate my company. What laws should I read, and which company should I hire. Now, I can add a QR code and get money via crypto. So much pressure is actually gone. Or use unstoppableDomain and receive payments via email. I think coinpayments also have a product that helps you to have a simple payment tool too.
Why I'm talking about crypto payments and not fiat? well, even it's 2021 - Ukraine citizens can have a real PayPal account. Our government just doesn't want to make it work... Plus, we have a war, so Stripe and a lot of other companies, that rely on big USA banks also paused money exchange between our countries. Plus, this way is much easy and cheaper. And you can sit and focus on things that are really moving your company forward.
Thanks, everyone for your participation. It was a pleasure and I hope anyone learned something new