A STORY OF FAILURE - INSIGHTS FROM A START-UP & WHY THEY MATTER IN AN ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENT (TINA DINGEL) - LKCE13
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A STORY OF FAILURE - INSIGHTS FROM A START-UP & WHY THEY MATTER IN AN ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENT (TINA DINGEL) - LKCE13

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Maybe you are thinking to do the start-up thing yourself – hear what didn't work and how not to do it ...

Maybe you are thinking to do the start-up thing yourself – hear what didn't work and how not to do it
Maybe you just like a good story – and bad news are always the juicier news than good news ;)
Be there for a first (and probably one of) - haven't told it before, might not tell it again

In order to become an agile company, I'm convinced we need a culture that welcomes failure (quick & cheap ones). Let's all take a first step in that direction
Because the time is just about right – two years after the fact, it feels ok to share a candid look back
Because a colleague pointed me to a very interesting TED talk about the power of vulnerability

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A STORY OF FAILURE - INSIGHTS FROM A START-UP & WHY THEY MATTER IN AN ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENT (TINA DINGEL) - LKCE13 A STORY OF FAILURE - INSIGHTS FROM A START-UP & WHY THEY MATTER IN AN ENTERPRISE ENVIRONMENT (TINA DINGEL) - LKCE13 Presentation Transcript

  • #fail townster.de Tina Dingel
  • Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.
  • WHY?
  • 1) Culture of experimentation
  • Fail fast, fail cheaply
  • Failure is integral to experimentation. Failure drives creativity and insight. Fail for success.
  • 2) A personal story about failures you don’t need to repeat
  • LET’S GO…
  • #fail #epicfail #epicmegafail
  • TAKE AWAY • What would I not do again? • Do differently? • Start doing?
  • EUR X.000.000 burned
  • THE MONEY The Money: • Betafabrik, Incubator, Cologne My Deal: • three-year contract • Expectation: behave like a founder - #fail Me: • 34yrs old, GM experience, Product Mkt at PP • no coding experience
  • THE ‘SPACE’ QUICK QUIZ
  • THE ‘SPACE’ • • • • Location-based service Directory of businesses Events Reviews by users
  • THE ‘SPACE’ • • • • Location-based service Directory of businesses Events Reviews by users How to earn money? -> Make businesses pay for placements
  • THE APPROACH
  • Lean Startup Approach
  • Lean Startup Approach Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.
  • ‘Fat Startup’ IDEA BUILD PRODUCT EXIT
  • ‘Fat Startup’ IDEA BUILD PRODUCT EXIT
  • Idea from 2007 - it was 2009 #fail
  • Idea from 2007 - it was 2009 #fail Why did I not question this? #fail
  • TAKE AWAY Internet - fast developing space - complex space -> you cannot plan for complexity -> you need to test and adapt in short iterations
  • Way too many features
  • Way too many features
  • Way too many features
  • Way too many features #fail
  • Way too many features #fail Did we test? Speak to consumers? #fail
  • TAKE AWAY Customer Driven Innovation – speak to you customers - Test stuff - Focus, focus, focus - What’s the critical functionality? Shave off the rest, nobody will use it anyway.
  • DEVELOPING THE PRODUCT
  • • Townster: • • Initially interns, freelancers (designer, product) Berlin, Cologne • Web Developers • External, Cologne-based • Faux-agile w/daily phone 'standups’
  • Odd feeling - 'requirements doc' was mentioned again and again. #fail Discuss your odd feelings! Occasional visits to their office Nothing to see / click #fail
  • TAKE AWAY The only yardstick is functioning code. Nothing else matters. Use agile dev methodologies –and stick to them- even in the smallest teams.
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… • Worked on use cases, wireframes, content, branding, etc • Got location data • Got event data • Busy, busy, bang, bang…
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… Retail therapy • Office, infrastructure, etc.  fat startup, burn rate #fail Still no product… and no valuegenerating activity.
  • TAKE AWAY Question yourself: value generating activity? Spend time on understanding and adapting the system
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… • Bought a coffee machine – good!
  • TAKE AWAY Coffee is crucial.
  • RECRUITING
  • EXIT ‘For an exit, we need a two-person management team’
  • EXIT ‘For an exit, we need a two-person management team’
  • Management team @townster
  • Management team @townster Turned out to be #epicmegafail
  • TAKE AWAY Invest time, time, time in selecting a co-partner. That person is going to be your ‘work spouse’. Go date…
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… Office Warming Party – nice!
  • Hiring a CTO
  • Hiring a CTO Turned out to be an #epicmegafail
  • TAKE AWAY Developers are not ‘different’. You need to work with them. It should be fun. If not – re-think this relationship.
  • DEVELOPING THE PRODUCT
  • CODE REVIEW Externals reviewing externals
  • CODE REVIEW #epicmegafail
  • No Code! At least not usable one
  • TAKE AWAY The only yardstick is functioning code. Nothing else matters. Face customers, deliver actual value
  • Start anew! With one CTO & one junior dev Web App
  • Way too many features #fail
  • Way too many features #fail Let’s add another one… Actually, let’s add a whole new product!
  • MOBILE – iPHONE APP
  • TAKE AWAY Identify mistakes / failures. Dare to speak about them. Don’t repeat them.
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… Weird coding activity seemed to be going on… …but nothing to see.
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… • • • • Hired a marketing manager Hired a product manager Got a PR agency on retainer Got a marketing agency to think about marketing #fail
  • TAKE AWAY As a Start-Up do your own PR. And do your own marketing – with a great product.
  • BURN, BABY, BURN
  • Weird coding activity seemed to be going on… …but nothing to see. Getting nervous…
  • Weird coding activity seemed to be going on… …but nothing to see. Getting nervous… No transparency on progress.
  • Weird coding activity seemed to be going on… …but nothing to see. Getting nervous… No transparency on progress. Setting deadline – to no avail.
  • Hiring external developers and consulting. Injecting SCRUM. ‘Definition of Done’
  • TAKE AWAY You have doubts? Nobody takes them seriously? Are they serious? Then start SCREAMING to be heard.
  • November 2009 - January 2010 Still no product live Coding, coding, coding….
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… Fired the CTO – finally
  • LAUNCH ST 1 FEBRUARY 2010 - YEAR AFTER START THE FIRST PRODUCT IN MARKET - ONLY THEN FIRST FEEDBACK #fail -> from here to April 2011
  • Very slow test & learn cycles… …but at least we learned.
  • MOBILE – featured in iTunes Store!
  • MOBILE – featured in iTunes Store! Downloads! Yay!
  • Way too many features #fail Let’s add another one… Actually, let’s add a whole new product!
  • Way too many features #fail Let’s add another one… Actually, let’s add a whole new product!
  • MOBILE – Android App
  • PRODUCT PORTFOLIO Too much stuff…. #fail
  • TAKE AWAY Identify mistakes / failures. Dare to speak about them. Don’t repeat them. Learn from them. And FOCUS!
  • HOW TO EARN MONEY? Really not that easy in given space So we didn’t make any fresh money But we were burning through it like mad
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… nd 2 GM was ‘let go’
  • FRESH MONEY! EXIT ?
  • IN PRODUCT
  • MEANWHILE AT THE OFFICE… Cost cutting: • Marketing manager • Sales manager -> ‘let go’
  • FRESH MONEY! EXIT ? Investitionsbank Berlin Brandenburg loan #fail
  • TAKE AWAY Borrowing money from a bank is a hugely time-consuming process Is this a value-adding activity?
  • FRESH MONEY? Alternative revenue streams… ‘Do some sort of agency business, hire out your developers.’
  • IS THIS REALLY ME?
  • REVERSE Investitionsbank Berlin Brandenburg loan - Negotiate way out
  • Failure is integral to experimentation. Failure drives creativity and insight. Fail for success.
  • a LOT was learned!