Why “iTrendy-” Startups Fail

Reason Why Geeky Things Fail Eventually and How to Avoid Tech Obsession Traps.


This is an article for people who would like to apply new technology to solve non-tech world problems. Unless your target customers are Geekies or Technologists, this article is for people to think twice before building a technology company that is based on promisingly new technology instead of real life applications.

I am working on XYZ

“I am working on XYZ (geeky terminologies that few of normal people understand). The application is %^&$#%( Something he thinks is cool but you have completely no idea what does that important to apply in real life.)”

Does the above greeting sound familiar? Yes, we all have heard similar self-introduction by tech obsessors when we walk around Startup networking events. A year ago, I was one of them too.

Last year, I was obsessed with a promising new technology which Apple Inc. coined — The iBeacon Technology, revolutionizing retail shopping experience and indoor location based system.

“I am working on iBeacon, it is a new technology launched by Apple Inc., in future you will receive indoor attractive coupon notifications when you are shopping, …”

The Result

Spending half year to influence retails adopting the technology, we put all our efforts in direct sales and reseller channels. We do over 80 sales meetings, 5 public presentations and attracted seasoned resellers to distribute the product. The result? It cannot be treated as a business at all.

Income is in HKD

Although iBeacon is a trendy new technology which any retailers joined can be coded with honor of being Technology Frontiers, the reason for failing is it doesn’t appeal to target customers’ need at all.

Care what Customers Concern

The biggest mistake for “iTrendy-” Startups is they do not care about what their customers concern but obsess with the technology they bring to the market.

Geeky founders treat their technology as a game changer or disruptive technology, a cool invention which set a new standard of market. They focus on product development, and expect customers will come. They enjoy building features, attempting to set barriers where competitors can hardly copy their model.

They are wrong. A successful startup doesn’t count on how many cool features you have built, but how effective you solve your customer’s problem.

Some companies build significantly few features and win the majority of market shares, while lots of companies build large proportion of useless features to charm their customers with fake abundance. The key difference is step into customers’ shoes: We don’t use fork to spoon congee.

Build Upon Value Over Trendy

We don’t underestimate trendy things will create tremendous value to customers, but we should avoid the temptation to ride on “gold rush” and chase for being No.1 of doing new technologies.

Value is always the key for long lasting profit making. In our case, SME retailers concern about every single penny they spend and calculate carefully of the effectiveness for every investment they made. People don’t pay for “shopping experience revolution”, but they concern how effective is the product can help bringing more businesses or gaining in-store traffic (which potentially do more businesses).


If you think yourself fall into tech obsession trap, don’t worry! Review, fine tune your plan, and always take actions! (Bad actions are always better than no actions.)

From my experience, although iBeacon business result does not go well, I have learnt greatly about sales approach and shifted my mentality from a geek to problem- solver. We now serve happy customers and enjoy handsome income which are greatly learnt from the regretless journey we have started since last December.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Felix Fan Chi Yin’s story.