What We Have Learned From Our Failed Startup
We failed yet another project! Why? Is it because we suck? Lack of experience? Wrong direction? Wrong motive? Why?
All and none of the above at the same time.
“Startups fail when founders give up”
The main reason we had started this project was because it seemed easy and was a fun thing to do. Is that the right reason to do something? If the reason was only “fun”? Yes, but thinking that it is easy was the wrong reason to start. We didn’t dream about the product’s impact in people’s lives, we didn’t dream about what it stood for and how it would have affected people. The only thing we had dreamed about was what would have happened if it went viral, and how we would succeed and prosper. We started this project for all the wrong reasons for all the wrong motives.
We never realized what this project actually meant for people until we were too far along. We only thought it was a fun thing for the users. But before that a little story about our wrong motives.
While watching the annoying orange, we got the idea to photo-shop our faces on fruits and put them up as our fb profile picture which struck us as funny at first. Then our friends started to ask us to make them their own photo-shopped fruits so we did. And then their friends asked them to ask us to make more photo-shopped fruits etc.. eventually we created a mobile app called FruitFace.
Few months into the release of our app, we realized that people enjoyed putting their faces on actual characters a lot more than fruits. The problem was that we would have needed to deal with the copyright issues which we couldn’t carry through with our connections and budget. So the dream of acquiring wealth, going viral and becoming a success slowly faded away for this project. Thus we moved on.
Why did people love putting their faces on characters? We never asked this question. What it meant for them and why they wanted to do it… It is however very clear to me now, and was namely because it defined who they really were. What their goals, their dreams were. They wanted to be closer to their ideal self, their motivations, their beliefs, their inspirations.
That is why my profile picture is of Ash Ketchum with my face on, and previously as a fruit with my face on it for 6 months. Because those pictures defined me more than any other picture taken in the whole world. With the capsicum face I wanted to reflect the unique, strange side of my personality (no one else had a profile pic like that) and with Ash Ketchum, my goals, my dreams and my attitude.
For our startup, this should have been the motivation. We should have tried to help people express themselves, show their emotions, their desires, their passions with the help of their beloved characters. Help people get closer to their ideal selves just a little bit more, make their friends and family see them as who they really are. But we didn’t do it for these reasons, we did not have a compelling reason to solve this problem and when it didn’t suddenly take off, we gave up. Nevertheless we had learned our lesson and have started another startup but for the right reasons this time. Thus we are selling this project.
Oddly enough, over 90% of FruitFace users were kids younger than the age of twelve. Is it possible to get every single 10 year old with this app? Yes! Because none of them are afraid to show and share their ideal self with the world. Their dreams, their desires, their wishes. Because they still think it is possible to be the greatest Pokemon Master.
We have therefore resolved to sell this project to someone who wants to help people show their desires. We believe that such a person can and will make every enthusiastic ten — twelve year old use this app, and maybe even more.
We believe that this is what matters the most.
- What is it that we want to do?
- Who is it that we want to help?
- Why are we doing what we are doing?
We used to think that startups were about doing something great, getting investments, lots of PR, going viral, growing big, changing the world.
But we now see that it is just doing something you want and with a little bit of luck it turns out to be what everyone is looking for.
So ask yourself, are you doing something you really want?