A sad letter – the death of a start up
Below is a start up cautionary tale and a reality check. I received this message today from a start up I had advised on a few ocassions over the past 4 years. I shared input, contacts and was an “advisor” in exchange for some common stock. We only met a few times and I spoke with them last summer as they had redone their focus one more time. (NOTE: I have edited the email and removed all names, references and firms to make this a generic message to protect the principals’ privacy and confidentiality)
I am posting it here to illustrate a few things:
1) These guys had a clear vision, were smart and seasoned
2) They picked a hot, growth industry at the a time of expansion in the business
3) They worked tirelessly to improve the product while working land clients and close venture financing.
Was it the product, timing, management, general economic fear in the market? Who knows. I do know these are smart, dedicated guys who gave it their all for over 4 years. Reinvented, reorganized, tried new stuff yet finally, without traction, they pulled the plug with large personal losses.
Failure makes us stronger, teaches us and makes us aware. My coaching clients are CEOs who have made mistakes and we use our collective wisdom and experiences to temper our next mistakes, make them as benign as possible and help us avoid a cascade of small failures that ultimately end in the big one like you see below.
The path to success is often long and twisty with precipices as steep as a twisty mountain road. Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Good luck to you guys A*** and J*** – I wish you well on whatever comes next.
We hope that your company has been successful, and is keeping you busy.
After the last couple years of heart-breaking, near-misses with some great authors and corporations, we have decided to close our company. While we still believe in the eventual success of video game technology based solutions in corporations, we overestimated the decision power and risk tolerance of our chosen target market. By the time we changed our strategy early last year, it was already difficult to raise funds for an off-the-shelf product, which we believed was one of the keys to fully open the corporate door.
Despite the personal financial impact, we did very much enjoy the innovative experience, and gained some scars which will enrich our future.
At this time, J**** has taken a senior position at a management consultancy that is both moving to assist clients with strategic business issues.
A**** is turning out the lights at our company, and is in pursuit of his next adventure that could land him anywhere from green/clean/solar tech startups, to management consulting, even to a stable position at a traditional firm.
Mark, we want to thank you for all your help throughout the years; your thoughts, guidance and introductions enriched our work and prospects for success. We especially thank you for the early introductions which helped us to formulate our initial plans. If there is anyway we could help you in the future, please do not hesitate to ask.
All the best!
A**** and J****