This is the best thing that ever happened to me. My first startup that failed, left me broke and changed me forever.
It was a year since I had dropped out. I had had a golden career-year in SEO, working under my mentor. I had come from knowing nothing except a little coding to becoming a hot-shot SEO with big time clients under my belt. It was just the right time for me to step out of my comfort zone and take the next leap.
Serving hot ‘ready-to-eat’ lunches on office desks.
It was a great business model since at that time the idea of online food ordering has just started to sink in for people. Foodpanda was really new. Swiggy hadn’t even started. Many offices didn’t have internal canteens and office goers had to face a lot of trouble in going outside for lunch. This was such a waste of time and the lunches that roadside hotels offered were borderline shitty. There simply had to be a better way.
The Flawed Business Plan
We started with a seed fund of $10K, which was a lot of money. Which confused us and led us to the wrong path. We wanted to create the best app and the best food packaging for our ‘prospective’ customers with the seed money. Whereas ideally, we should have gotten some orders, validated the concept and raised the second round of funding before ‘perfecting’ our product. But since it was the first startup for both of us (co-founders) we knew that we were doing the right thing. There was no way WE could be wrong.
The Brutal Failure
That was the most brutal failure I have ever had, I had to fire people, move into a 2 room flat with 3 other people already in it. I remember – one evening the kitchen was out-of-stock and I didn’t have money. Not even 10 bucks to buy a packet of Maggi. I worked for 18 hours a day for the next 6 months to get back on my feet.
The Lessons from the Failed Startup
- Your accolades and past experience can get you the dream job, but they mean nothing when you are running a business.
- The idea is just the 1%, it’s all about executing and persevering.
- The greatest of business ideas need to survive before they can make an impact.
- There is only one sensible business model-
1. Get out of your head, stop thinking how great your idea is
2. Validate your idea by building an MVP and getting people to use it. Don’t forget the MV in the MVP.
3. Be practical, raise funds before perfecting the product. 100% equity can also mean complete burn-out.
- It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. Irrespective of failure or success, your first startup is not the end of your career and it certainly isn’t the end of your life. The game has just begun.