Leadership Brought Digital Dream Labs Back From Failure

December 12, 2014

10:00 am

In the daily life of an entrepreneur not everything always goes according to plan. It could be said that these are the defining moments in an entrepreneur’s life though; the real test of what makes an entrepreneur is how they deal with failure.

In November 2013 we wrote an article about the Pittsburgh based Digital Dream Labs right as they were launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund their Puzzlets gaming console that teaches kids how to program and code. Unfortunately, founder Justin Sabo and his dedicated crew didn’t get to see the campaign fully funded.

What do you do from there? Do you pack up and go home? Hell no. Sabo did the only thing we can do in such situations: keep advancing forward. And then advance even more.

“We were thinking, are we going to have to nix the whole hardware and release only the software, add it to our resume, and call it a day?” asks Sabo. “Ironically, because of that attitude, we kept the momentum going to get where we are now.”

Even though the Kickstarter had failed, the team was able to clear their heads and review their process objectively. Through detailed analysis, they realized that despite everything they were able to get a solid sense of what people were and weren’t responding to.

“With a failed Kickstarter, breathe, and take a step back to ask why. Not just the surface level of, ‘Oh people didn’t want it’. Is your marketing message clear? Is it clearly delivered to your target audience? Did you have a big enough following? Did enough people hear about the campaign? Was the price set well,” says Sabo.

So, the team went back to the drawing board to figure out precisely what their message needed to be as well as build prototypes for the community. Additionally, Sabo tapped his old mentors and advisors for some angel funding, and ultimately an investor came through which in turn attracted somebody else.

There was also a high level of transparency among the staff, as Sabo had previously learned that it could only help in a situation like this. According to Sabo, if your employees can see that they have a fit and are working for an attainable goal, it’s powerful.

“A failed Kickstarter isn’t the end of the world, it just means that you’ll have to adjust,” says Sabo.

Digital Dream Labs has truly come back from looking into the abyss of failure because of their leadership quality and dedication from the team members. The next big step for them is to showcase the industry product at Toy Fair in New York this February. Digital Dream Labs will be at booth 3215 – it’s definitely worth checking out.


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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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