9 mistakes I made when creating, growing and closing my startup
With more and more users and recurring monthly income
It’s been more than two years of work since we created iQapla until we close it (at the end of January 2018). Exactly 2 years with the platform accesible.
We closed it with the number of active users at historic highs and with new users entering every day (still subscribing as I write this note). With satisfied users, loyal and sad to see us march:
“I’m very sorry it’s something that I consider essential to deal with automatic systems. A very good job that does not have commercial endorsement. You can feel very satisfied despite everything. “
“I regret very much that all the effort you have made has not borne fruit, especially since it is a very good idea that you developed.”
“I am very sorry, I can not understand that such a valuable management tool does not have enough followers …”
I will be very brief and direct because I have made so many mistakes that otherwise I could write a whole book.
Disclaimer: I started my digital entrepreneurship being already an entrepreneur and with enough knowledge of companies and businesses in general and of iQapla’s one in particular. Many years of professional experience but none in the startup ecosystem.
I changed the title of the post. I was “What I learned …”, but I think it is more valuable to go straight to the point. So I can maybe save this mistakes to other or even remember them for my next project. In addition, I learned so much when jumping from the corporate world to the digital world that to tell all of that, I would have to make a video or interview myself.
Many of these errors affect and amplify each other and I am sure that most of them could be argued, so it is not my intention pontificate, but rather to promote truthful thought. Detailed without any special order.
1 Do not include in the shareholders agreement (14 sheets written by expert lawyers) with my co-founder (a charming, generous and extraordinarily expert in his field person, for which I can only have good words) an objective dedication and consequent penalties for non-compliance. Problems would have popped up earlier.
2Not moving quickly to the target market. Perhaps due to lack of aggressiveness, resources or a mix of factors, we realized too late that the business had to start in Spain and escalated to the US immediately.
3 Be more ambitious in the search for initial funding. Driven by the conviction (that showed true for the most part) that the business was going to be sustainable on its own, we did not initially raise enough capital for iQapla to compete with other professional alternatives.
4 Did not devote enough time to establish a strategic roadmap at the beginning. The concept of pivot is fine and necessary, but always within the context of a strategic vision of where we want to run the business.
5Didn’t realize immediately that most investors in Spain will never understand our business. I lost a lot of time knocking doors. I did not make a prior evaluation of who could support us. If I had done it, I would have discovered that in Spain there are very, very few financial resources for a business like this.
6Do not assume that the Spanish investment ecosystem is composed of amateur investors (many supposedly professionals) who invest instinctively and need to be convinced qualitatively (which is very difficult with “strange” projects like ours) and professional investors who do not really assume a great risk because they require business instead of entrepreneurship projects.
7Learn too late that the ecosystem of digital entrepreneurship is composed mostly of members who have never started a business themselves and, as a result, will add little value in their interventions. It seems innocuous, but it made us waste a lot of time and focus.
8Don’t force myself and my partner to give a final push to full dedication when we came up with some very interesting opportunities to explore. Although with a lot of sacrifice, we could have tried, but it caught us tired.
9Don’t analyze carefully that with the business model we were creating we would be working mainly for others. We learnt the hard way that we are left with 15% of the income that we generate. If we had done this analysis before (even if it was on a theoretical level), we would have undertaken a different model.
Although this seems like a disastrous project, in my opinion it has not been so. We did many things well. Proof of this are some comments from users like the ones I copied above, the fact that we started having revenues from the first month, that the number of users continues to grow daily, that the company has no cash problems and many other important indicators.
Along the way I have found fantastic and very professional people. Starting with Alex, my partner and friend to fellow fatigue entrepreneurs in other startups and even the some very special “investors”. And that is one of the things that I take.
iQapla may finish soon, but the project has been very valuable to me and it will not be the last one I do.
Have a healthy and lucky 2018!