TL:DR I wasted 6 months and a lot of ringgits and it is the best thing I have done.
How it started
It started in a casual dinner conversation, when me and my buddy were talking about startups world. We wanted to be part of it. We wanted to solve the world’s problem and at the same time take a slice of billion dollar available fundings. It was this one particular concept that attracted us and got us so fired up. From that night onward, our start up adventure began.
Fast forward 6 months later, we shut down the start up. (I apologize for this cranky sequence. :D)
It is embarrassing to admit that we failed. The society is not kind to failures. Many think there is a way to fix this and we thought we can do better. But after much deliberation, me and my buddy decided to take the unfortunate step of shutting down our startup. It is better to fail fast, than to have a slow death.
Here, I am reminding myself of the valuable lesson learned.
1. Solve real problems
Our startup, VidPays, is aimed to solve a problem in video advertising industry. What it does is that VidPays will reward users for their time in watching video advertisements on their mobile phones. Doesn’t it sound good? You get paid for watching videos. Sweet. Monneh monneh monneh. Money is everyone’s problem and we are solving their problem. It is a real problem. We got this, boys!
Mitchell Harper wrote a brilliant piece about solving real problem. Tier 1 problems.
VidPays is not a tier 1 problem. This means VidPays wasn’t in demand and will mostly get ignored. There are so many other more reliable ways to earn money, and they learn real skills while earning. You don’t see ‘watching videos’ as a skill in resume, do you?
Takeaway: Start by solving your own tier 1 problem.
PS: Check out Petsodia! It’s Airbnb for pets. Petsodia is solving one of my tier 1 problems.
2. Do real market testing
Startup articles, business guides, validating business model and etc. We read them. Like a new born puppy, we followed what others do. We told our ideas to family members and friends. We also shared it with random strangers. The responses was amazing. They all loved the concept and wanted to be a part of VidPays community. After these positive inputs, we dived straight to product development.
VidPays app was completed in less than 30 days. Even now I am still quite aroused by this speed. We brought the prototype and successfully setup meetings with 10 business owners and agencies. That was the first realisation of market testing. Their response was meh. We continued moving forward and setup another 10 meetings, this time including VCs. It was brutal. Concurrently, we were hustling with getting up our users number.
Takeaway: Find real demand or buyer ($$$) as early as possible.
3. Do what you fear
Don’t be sarcastic and say ‘I fear of robbing a bank’. I will throat punch you.
Running a startup is way harder than what I could anticipate. Time, energy, resources. You got to literally do everything. Luckily enough I have a super co-founder to do things we have no clue at all. Register a Sdn. Bhd. company? Easy. Find clients and setup meetings with them? Piece of cake. Responding in odd hours to users? Pfft. Wait till you do these yourself, and more.
I am a super awesome creative designer and fabulously fantastic front-end developer. Running a startup or business has nothing to do with my existing skills at all. Many times I have wondered if I can do it, if I am good enough to do it. I am supposed to sit behind the computer and do the stuff that I am good at . Every time I am doing something I don’t enjoy, I see myself as a victim.
Why such feeling? It is because of fear.
We don’t question ourselves before we eat that delicious cheese cake, do we? There is no fear eating that dessert. Now imagine the difficult task you were doing yesterday, and ask yourself this question ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’.
Takeaway: What would you do if you weren’t afraid.
Start, fail, repeat
This subtitle is daunting to read. Failure has already embedded in our mind that it is a negative element. I was afraid to tell people at the beginning that I have failed my startup. I will be labelled as a failure. It is not a nice thing to have. Heck. I will put a bullet in my head. What what!? No nae nae. The only thing I will put in my head is Unicorn flying over a rainbow. Hm… =) Anyway, having an open mind and seeing behind failures. You will gain rather than sorrow.
So, how about we change this sub title?
Start, learn, repeat.
How’s that sound now?
Posted on 10 November 2015