Success stories are boring.
Startup success stories are horribly boring.
They are all quite the same and go like that:
We had that bright idea. We made right things at the right time at the right place. We worked hard, we had luck and we are genius anyway.
Another thing those success stories have in common – you learn nothing from them. Cause by no mean you can learn success. But you can learn failures. And you can learn to foresee them and change your path.
So how can exciting stories with no happy end look like?
We had that bright idea at the wrong time.
Bright idea guarantees nothing. Just have it at the wrong time, when consumers and the market are not ready for it, and you fail brilliantly.
An innovative idea is even harder to bring through. A lot of explanation to adjust mental models of consumers (=money for marketing) is required. If you believe that innovation sells, you are damn wrong. Innovation is probably the worst sales manager ever. So just multiply your marketing budget 10 times. Maybe it’ll work.
We had that bright idea and made wrong things (at wrong place).
The brightest idea served to the wrong people won’t bring you far. You can also try to serve right people but at places, they never visit/use. Or make all of that right and forget the usability issues of your target group and thus make your product unusable for them. Yes, there are many ways to fail.
Greetings to user research I have not done when I should have had.
We worked hard.
Working hard guarantees no success. Working hard makes you blind. It really matters to take your hands off, get a bit distanced from all that startup stress and look at it from the bird perspective. Just to be sure you are not working hard on burying your startup.
We had no luck.
Well, luck is a good but very unreliable metrics. Having luck means you being on the right path. However, having no luck does not mean anything. Maybe you are on the wrong path. But maybe these are just life hurdles you are struggling with and they are to check if you deserve more.
I have a strong opinion that luck is essential and you have to keep an eye on it. If no (even tiny) lucky circumstances ever happening on your startup path, you might need to rethink it.
And my startup failure experience makes me suspect that user research, bird-eye view and luck are old good friends.
We were not smart enough.
You were brave enough to take a risk and leave your comfort zone to try that idea out. And then you were brave and smart enough to admit the flop. So be proud of the challenges you took and failed. So hey! Even if you failed, you are genius. Do celebrate the startup you fucked up. Thanks to it your next project might actually succeed.
Whatever the future might bring, the startups we’ve failed, the stories with no happy end, are the ones our grandchildren will love to listen to and ask to tell them all over again.
Cause success stories are boring.