I was really hoping not to have to write this post. Hoping that something would change and that I’d be able to avoid this, but unfortunately 9/10 start ups fail and I’ve built one of the 9 instead of the 1 out of 10.
That’s really painful to write. But it’s true.
I’ve put myself, my friends and family through a lot as I struggled and hustled my way on. I raised capital way to early and couldn’t close on the deals or the institutional investment we needed to keep going on. So that’s it. I’m done.
There’s been a lot of good and a lot of bad that’s come out of the situation and hopefully I’ll be able to turn this into a situation I’m able to laugh about in 10 or so years. Sigh.
But instead of wallowing in self pity here’s what I’ve learnt, most of it other entrepreneurs will tell you themselves but until you’ve actually lived it, it’s hard to actually learn it.
Don’t take money unless you have to - we raised angel capital before we had really defined our business, our products and our customers, being an investment when you’re still trying to define your business is hard work.
Get all the money in one instalment - traunch investments suck. You end up chasing the capital rather than focusing on the business.
Go where you need to be - having our development team in the US closest to our customers when I was in Europe was not a good idea.
Fail fast - we took too long to figure out we weren’t going to be able to compete with stronger players.
A deck is nice, a strong product with sales is nicer - I should have spent more time closing and less time pitching investors.
There’s probably hundreds of other lessons I could write about, but I’ll save those for the hundreds of coffees and drinks I’m likely to have as I talk about it further with friends and potential employers.
I think that’s another thing that’s suffered as the company was under-performing over the past few months I’ve gone inside myself a lot more, here’s hoping this blog post is the start to changing that.
Wish me luck.
Too many MC’s take that word ‘emcee’ lightly
They can’t Move a Crowd, not even slightly
It might be the fact that they express wackness
Let me show ya whose ass is the blackest
A couple of professors from Boston University have done some work on the cost of patent trolls on the economy. Patent trolls or Non-Practicing entities (NPEs) basically sit on patents from inventors who haven’t put their patents to use and then enter litigation with firms - large and small - and end up stifling innovation on a broad spectrum.
Professional patent trolls aren’t the only ones, large companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Samsung have all stacked their patent portfolios in order to restrict market entries or make innovation harder for competing companies.
Don’t get me wrong, I think commercial protection is immensely important for innovation, society and they economy. Enabling inventors to protect and capitalize on their inventions is a principle that helps innovation, but being overly protective can have the opposite effect, it can harm innovation.
The patent system needs reworking in a major way. From a global perspective there are too many filing systems, having US protection versus EU protection versus Asian protection versus global protection can lead to crippling costs and bureaucracy. Governments need to come together and simplify patent filing.
There also needs to be more restrictions on how patent owners can use their patents. I’m all for defensive use and for the restriction of clear rip-offs, but there has to be a way of enabling competitors to borrow from each other without clearly ripping off.
Fashion, according Johanna Blakley, the courts decided long ago that “Apparel is too utilitarian for copyright protection”. Fashion without copyright protection has still innovated and created wealth for many companies. Here’s her TED video:
I think Technology needs to follow a similar pattern, allow for a culture of copying - to an extent - that would allow for innovation at a rate that will benefit society.
I’m not holding out hope that the courts and companies will figure patent reform out, and unfortunately we the consumers are the ones who suffer most.
“I’m a glutton for the truth, even though truth hurts
I’ve studied with my peoples on streets and in church
We make it hard when we go on first
Long rode, honor of the samari code
These California streets ain’t paved with gold
Worst comes to worst”
If you’re going to announce a new consumer product you should give price and availability at launch. Otherwise you leave people with two very big questions right at the start.
Apple does this extremely well, from iPods and Macbooks (where they control the distribution) to iPhones and iPads (where they own some of the distribution but also work with numerous partners in numerous markets). Samsung seems to have learnt this message well, where the S3 was announced and available in most markets soon after launch - except for the US where they were in some legal hot water, but still have managed to launch the phone recently - only weeks after a launch event.
Compare this to Microsoft launching their Surface tablet. No details on product availability or price. Not announcing these details leads to speculation and means that the consumer is influenced by all kinds of speculation about price and distribution. For potential costumers who are in the market this makes the choice to go with a competitive product easier.
RIM made a similar blunder when they launched the Playbook and look how that’s worked out for them.
I’m not a big believer in first mover advantage, but when a mover has made a move you have to match them with execution and unfortunately for Microsoft and RIM they haven’t matched the execution of the incumbents in the tablet market.
I’d like Surface to offer solid competition to Apple in the tablet market, as competition helps innovation, but for now, my hopes aren’t high.
I think I’ve made a number of mistakes with blogging. First I built my own custom CMS, then I used other services, like Vox and Wordpress most recently. And now my latest incarnation is this Tumblr blog.
While I haven’t done a blog post in almost a year, I have been active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other services. Which is why I’ve migrated to Tumblr as a platform. Hopefully this can become a nice little home for all the activity I want to share.
I’ve put targets on how much I’ll post in the past, I’m not going to do this time, what I will say is that I’m hoping this becomes more of my home online and not just another mistake :)
Almost every interview with an entrepreneur describing their journey has the words “I made a ton of mistakes” somewhere. Nobody does things perfectly. Whether it’s selling too soon or pivoting too much or whatever it is, I believe every successful person makes a ton of mistakes. Hence the name.
I’m going to try and share tweets, pics, quotes, random things from books and other interactions and hopefully some insightful blog posts as well.