August 18, 2016
Would you walk away from nearly $2 million in total revenue after your startup picked up $650,000 in total seed funding across four events? No? It was the right move for one founder. Shawn Livermore’s story, intriguingly titled My Startup Generated Almost 2 Million in Revenue, So I Shut it Down, covers the sordid tale of a six-year “crucible of torture” that never ended in a solid business plan.
The Takeaway: Be Okay with Failing
The actual story of what the startup centered on, why it didn’t work, and why subsequent pivots were doomed is all very entertainingly candid, but Livermore knows what else tech people want to read: takeaways.
“Failure is a great option. Failing today may lead you to succeeding tomorrow. Quite literally sometimes, giving up on an idea based on the true data received out of an experiment is the most impressive work you can ever perform.”
Sure, we hear that it’s okay to fail, and the tech community loves repeating that chestnut about “failing upwards,” but when it comes time to actually apply that wisdom, it’s never harder to do. Livermore’s postmortem gets into the many challenges and issues that kept his idea from success, but the nitty-gritty of how to embrace failure was the most interesting part.
So What Does That Look Like?
Like a lot of tough to define aspects of a company, it comes down to the inner culture and internal pressures that those within the company, particularly the leaders, feel. The leader’s mentality and approach to problem-solving will always impact those beneath him or her.
Livermore explains it by comparing it to Google, a company famed for its moonshots:
“Formulate a mindset of throw-away work like GoogleX does. Reward each other as if proving why a particular idea or innovation would not work is a goal or sport. This is where a powerful culture can be formed: between the co-founders informally, on a couch at your apartment. Not later in the HR department. Right there on the couch over a pizza.”
Failing quickly can lead to success, but more importantly, it can prevent the half-successes that ultimately just waste time.
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