The Aftermath of a Medium Post About your Failed Startup

Bucket acquired by Galavantier

Julia Lam
Julia Lam
Mar 23, 2016 · 5 min read

Life works in mysterious ways. On March 9th, we announced that Bucket, the travel technology startup that I’d worked on for almost three years, was closing.

We hadn’t hit metrics that excited us and I’d been working on an acquisition plan.

I talked to over 20 companies, and there was interest because our text-to-visual technology was so unique — as far as I know there’s nothing else like it out there.

That said, the fundraising environment was tough and many in Silicon Valley — including startup “unicorns” — were preparing for a long winter and belt-tightening. Most of the companies where our technology and team fit in had just gone through layoffs and weren’t in the market for new additions.

After our most promising acquisition conversation fell through, I made the hard decision as a founder to close our company’s doors.

Why I wrote our startup postmortem Medium post

I previously worked on a startup that shut our doors much earlier than Bucket. Our concept was a combination of social good and mobile. I was confident that people would want to “do good” if it was easy, and felt that the mobile platform could solve just that issue. After working on the idea for a few months, a co-founder left for personal reasons. I supported his decision, but since we hadn’t raised funding yet, it didn’t make sense to continue. Losing a teammate early on can be a crushing blow.

After that, I drowned my sorrows and recharged with a month-long binge of The Bachelor re-runs and chocolate chip cookies. I hid out because I didn’t want to talk about it. No one wants to fail.

This time, I refused to live in shame for failing a startup. After all, the only real failure would be if I didn’t learn anything — and I learned something every day for three years.

I initially wrote the post, “Fighting to turn the Light on with Bucket: A post-mortem of our startup experience,” for myself, as a therapeutic recap of our journey and learnings over the last few years. The idea of sharing something this intimate broadly was scary, and I wasn’t sure I had the stomach for it.

I eventually decided to publish it, so other entrepreneurs might have a better chance of turning on their own “light” and finding product market fit. Startups are tough, and the more information you have about what works and doesn’t, the better.

What happened next

What happened next was a shock to everyone, including me.

The post gained a lot of its own momentum. In a week, it had more than 18,000 views. One of the startup-focused channels on Medium, #SWLH, asked to re-publish the post, as did Business Insider.

I was bombarded by messages: friends that I hadn’t talked to in years went out of their way to reach out and tell me they supported me.

I received heartfelt notes from people I didn’t know who were inspired by our journey and offered me a place to stay if I was in their area.

I received countless messages from entrepreneurs like me, sharing their own story and asking for advice on how to continue on.

Startup advisor roles started rolling in. Bigger companies that knew they wanted more startup blood started calling (ironically one was from one of the companies that we tried to get acquired by).

People thanked us for our honesty. It felt good to help others.

The Deal

But the most interesting thing that happened, is that we got new leads for acquisitions after we announced we’d be closing our doors.

Today, I’m excited to announce Bucket has been acquired. Bucket will be joining Galavantier, a platform that curates one-of-a-kind travel experiences. Bucket’s collection and save technology will be combined with Galavantier’s booking technology and local expertise to deliver hand-selected travel products, services, and experiences to travelers everywhere. We’re excited to combine forces to innovate the travel sector.

Although Bucket, will cease operations today, our technology will live on.

What I learned

As CEO of a startup, it’s important to always be smiling and telling people how great your product and company is. You make everyone believe — you are your company’s biggest fan and only advocate. However, by being silent when things are bad, you can cut yourself off to opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

The more you ask people for help, the more help you get.

Shout from every mountain top how your startup is doing, as people you didn’t even know existed can help you achieve your goals.

If you can confront your fear of failure, you might not fail at all.

What’s next for me?

I’m helping Bucket transition to Galavantier. After that, I will still be taking time to go travel. I’m heading off to South East Asia in April, so shoot me a line if you’re over that way. I love travel companions.

On the job front, I’ve started exploring opportunities at some bigger companies. After my travel adventures conclude, I’m excited to head back to a place with more infrastructure. It feels great to work in my strengths of product, business, and go-to-market.

Thanks to all who supported us on this journey. It was a surprise, but we’re excited to find a home for Bucket within Galavantier.

Please remember, “…Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.” ― Teresa Tsalaky

We’re excited for this new beginning.

Female Founders

Julia Lam

Written by

Julia Lam

Founder @ Tara&Co, ex-Facebooker, traveler, and dancer.

Female Founders

Women learning the hard way. Submissions to @angiecois

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