Cutting your losses

Admitting to failure is one of the suckiest experiences in a human life. You never know whether you’re a lousy quitter or the only one going against a herd of idiots. This psychological discomfort makes people cling to worthless stock, reject modern technology and work at dead-end jobs – The latter being my hypothesized case.

The past 6 months have been spent working on three separate web projects. All three exciting, all three could not lift up. The first lacked an able CEO (and perhaps much more) whereas the latter two lacked a vision and had an unbalanced team.

The single most important takeaway for me is that building a consumer-facing business is not a flat world as I first imagined. If you build it, you have to make them come.

There is a crucial role for marketers to carefully select the distribution channels; The process of identifying a product and knowing that it is “right” when you have only a handful of users is very elusive; and working as a team (as opposed to a committee) requires a special type of people with some relevant experience or unique abilities.

Most importantly, consumer-facing businesses are rarely built for a flat audience. Facebook, for example, started in the cozy college niche. You have to find a smaller community to grow in (and I tumbled about this a while ago).

Wrapping up this bag, and needing some money, it seems like I’m back to day-jobbing. Round #2 in my startup life might be over, but there will be a round #3.

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Posted Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 under Growing Software.

3 comments

  1. hopefully i’m wiser and have some perspective – you might be cutting your current loses, but probably sometimes down the road your synapses will click, and there will be profit from these experiences.

    good luck dude ;-)

  2. Thanks. It always helps to have some positive karma injected into me. :-)

  3. It seems that we face the very same challenges that you are talking about. Building a web-app, iterating it to a feature set that would click with some niche audience, and making it with a flat organization, where no one has much relevant expertise or authority is very difficult. The challenges come mostly from the emotional labor that is constantly needed in order to stand up for what you believe in, but knowing when to compromise when it becomes to disruptive.

    Good luck in your next endeavors :)

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