Failure is a term generally avoided in conversations around the world, in an attempt to keep a certain perception of one’s self. It’s unfortunate, as not only is failure a grand learning experience for the people involved, it’s an opportunity to create and leave lasting value in the world.
In tech and startup culture, value is usually created after failures by sharing stories, mentoring, and blogging. But what about the value which was created during the journey which isn’t shared? What happens to all the hours that a team has poured into the product and the code they have written? Usually all this value disappears into the ether, but sometimes, someone will leave more value in the world beyond war stories.
Case in point: Chris (aka M00t, founder of 4chan) closed his failed startup DrawQuest 2 months ago. He personally acquired the company’s IP and has plans to open source the IP on GitHub. Also, after settling the company’s liabilities, he donated the remaining $40,000 cash to a charity. He summaries with:
Throughout this entire process I’ve had one goal in mind — to create positive outcomes at every step of the way, for as many people as possible, given that I wasn’t able to generate a venture return for our investors.
Five months ago I decided to experiment with a project to teach anyone how to DJ and perform ‘on the decks’. Previously I had DJed for more than 7 years, so I had the necessary knowledge and experience to create a valuable course. I decided to create a high quality video course and leverage both Udemy and Fedora to sell the course, with the price ranging from $19USD to $300USD. The costs of production were low (thanks to David B from Griffin Alliance), so the margins were high.
Fast forward 5 months, more than 300 people signed up for the courses. I had broken even (+ a bit more), but the velocity of signups was not growing. After much thought, I found my passions had moved on from creating many small businesses (aka 4 hour work week), to focusing on 1 or 2 high impact businesses and consolidating my efforts.