My 25 Failed Startups

In chronological order, followed by a few major lessons learned from all of these experiences combined.

  1. Heated Windshield Wipers — to help defrost cars (2002)
  2. Touch-screen Drive Through — so you can just press a button to order stuff at a drive through instead of talking to the person. (2002)
  3. Digital Price Tags — to let stores change product prices faster (2003)
  4. Sprinklers with Fertilizer Built In (2004)
  5. Toothbrush with Water Gun Built In (2005)
  6. Drink ‘n Drive — golf driving range with bottle service (2006)
  7. “Smart” Picture Frames — sell to hotels; display family photos from Facebook when you arrive in your hotel room for family vacation (2007)
  8. LecShare - integrate twitter hashtags into classrooms to help professors collect feedback on their lectures (2008)
  9. College Bike Share Program (2009)
  10. Selling Ads on Coffee Cup Sleeves (2010)
  11. SpeakerFund — Website where students can contribute/raise money towards flying in a guest speaker to come to their school.
  12. Group Discounts at Coffee Shops (2011)
  13. Twitter breathalyzer — app to gauge how drunk you are based on your twitter activity (2011)
  14. Threads — App that centralizes all of your active comment threads across social media sites (2011)
  15. Marco Polo — App that lets you check ‘out’ of places, to show where you’ve been rather than giving away where you are, as opposed to FourSquare. (2011)
  16. Status — App that lets you check in to a state of mind… and see who else around you is happy, sad, energized, drunk, etc. (2011)
  17. TopStickr — Whiteboard sticker for the back of your laptop (2012)
  18. Chai Town — coffee shop with a membership model (2013)
  19. Neighborhood Refrigerator — a large centralized refrigerator shared by your neighborhood (2013)
  20. chiragslist.com — craigslist for chirag (2014)
  21. NUfriends.com — Private Facebook for Northwestern Students (2014)
  22. PayMeToTweetStuff.com — Get paid to tweet about brands (2015)
  23. Chess Clock Time Tracker — physical device for your desk that tracks how long you are working vs. not working (2015)
  24. Earvertise — a media company that sells audio ads in place of hold music (2015)
  25. AlumTalks.com — automated e-mail introductions for professional networking within university alumni communities. (2011–2016)

Share your startup failures at https://www.faillearngrow.org/ and come hang out at NoD if you ever wanna learn more about any of mine!

5 Key Lessons Learned

  1. Order matters — first validate, then build, then sell, then raise outside money (if it makes sense)- NOT the other way around.
  2. No one cares about your “million dollar idea” — go make a sale and then tell me about it.
  3. Business plans (by themselves)= 100% guess work = 200% bull shit.
  4. Anything is possible — you have no idea what you’re capable of until you try.
  5. There are no winners in the waiting game — if you’re waiting for something to happen, you’re doing it wrong. Get out there and make it happen. No excuses!

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You don’t get to 25 failures without creating a few successes. Read about them here

If you’re in Dallas and need a place to set up shop, check out my coworking space — NoD Coworking at 17290 Preston Road (Dallas, TX 75252).