faal, mislukking, zinkend schip

5 tekenen dat je startup ten dode is opgeschreven

Start-ups zijn een riskante onderneming. Voor elke Facebook, Google of Uber zijn er honderden bedrijfjes die aanvankelijk briljant lijken en met veel tamtam geïntroduceerd worden, maar na enkele maanden in het niets verdwijnen.

We horen vaker over de succesverhalen dan over de mislukkingen en dat is jammer, omdat er belangrijke lessen te leren zijn van de mensen die onderuit gaan. Gelukkig voor ons maakte investeringsbedrijf CB Insights een flink overzicht van postmortems gebaseerd op e-mails, blogs en interviews van de oprichters van startups. Deze berichten leveren fascinerende inzichten op.

Computerworld selecteert hier de beste Engelstalige verhalen uit ons internationale IDG-netwerk.

I sifted through all the tear-shedding, blame-shifting, and self-flogging to find some of the more telling themes from these sorrowful tales (setting aside the obvious stuff like running out of money or building a product that people flat-out rejected). You might recognize one of these signs from a startup you know today. Or, given that IT projects are often like microstartups within an organization, you might learn a lesson or two about how not to steer your project straight into the ground.

1: You don’t have a strong and consistent focus

Knowing what a business is all about means everything — especially in the critical early months when a startup is working to find its footing. If you see a startup without a strong focus — or with a focus that keeps changing or expanding — it might be time to start worrying. It’s a lesson numerous founders have learned the hard way.

“We were trying to do everything for everybody,” writes Yash Kotak, founder of the failed startup Lumos. “We were making switches that could automate your lights, fans, ACs, and water heaters. We would have tried to automate your TV, fridge, oven, and car as well, had it been feasible to do so.”

The issue, Kotak says, isn’t that it’s inherently bad to pursue multiple angles; it’s that you can spread your resources only so thin before they get tight — and that’s when something is bound to snap. Sound familiar? “As a startup, you are constrained in resources,” he reflects. “So it is always better to identify and solve one problem very well instead of solving n problems in a so-so way.”

Thor Fridriksson had similar struggles at his now-defunct startup, Pumodo. As he recalls it, he and his cohorts got “tangled in the hype machine” and made the same mistake of being mediocre at a bunch of things instead of being exceptionally great at one. “Our business plan was changing every week,” Fridriksson writes. “We went from focusing only on football to becoming [an] app for all sports.”

Pumodo’s mantra, according to Fridriksson, was “think bigger” — a plan that also didn’t pan out for Jeanette Cajide, founder of folded mobile app Blurtt (yes, Blurtt). “Ideas are a dime a dozen; the difference is in the execution,” Cajide notes. She should know: Her startup went through four different business models before finally calling it quits.

That brings us to our next sign that something might be amiss…

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