Failing is not cool (the Lean Startup hype)

Failing is becoming too cool these days. I agree that it’s ok to fail, but it shouldn’t be a reason to give up easily. Listen to Marc Andreessen talk about this (watch starting from minute 18 to 21):

He doesn’t want to invest in someone that gives up easily, someone that tried then tried then tried until things started to work. The journey will probably take longer than what you think. I know lean startup teach us to fail quickly and move on. I don’t agree on that, I think you should keep trying until the end. Some startups pivot, some need to Grind, read this post by Fred Wilson titled The Pivot vs The Grind:

Entrepreneurs are inpatient, but you really need to wait sometimes, don’t give up easily, you’ll not see results as quickly as you thought. Waiting 2yrs till you see some good traction is normal. Waiting 3yrs to reach breakeven point is also normal. Sometimes you just need to wait!

The biggest reason for startups to fail it’s because the founders give up. There is a difference between failing and giving up. I see many founders give up in their startup quit easily, they couldn’t withstand the pressure from family, friends and life. I can totally understand how intense it could be, but unfortunately thats the game, it’s so f***** difficult to build a startup.

90% of us will fail, and it’s ok. I appreciate the courage to try something new and appreciate what you learned during this journey. Failing is OK, but not cool.

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1 Comment

  1. excellent point, and I totally agree.

    “fail quickly” is widely misunderstood. this does not mean we should be give up quickly.
    Within Lean Startup context, this is what it means:
    – Before you do any big business decision, come up with an experiment to test it first
    – Conduct the experiment with the goal to know if the test/the hypothesis is true or false.
    – “Fail Quickly” means, try to design the experiment so that if the hypothesis is wrong, the experiment will show you very quickly that it has failed.
    – Testing slowly consumes time & resources dangerously, additionally, it increases probability of lost opportunities. This is why it’s important to “experiment quickly – know if the hypothesis works or not quickly”.

    For example, a famous site offered to do advertising for us, giving us a great deal if we sign a 1-year contract.
    We refused. We designed a 2-week experiment to know if the readers of the site are part of our target audience. The 2-week experiment cost was high (if measured as cost per day of advertising) much higher than the year-long deal cost per day. However, we designed it to be aggressive, and to know for sure if it’ll work.

    Within 2 weeks, we knew that the users of that site are not a good match for us. Thus, this small experiment saved us a lot of money that we would have lost over a whole year, and it pushed us to look for better alternatives – something that we would have possibly missed on if we went with them.


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