How I Failed in 6 Startups in 6 Years
Everyone dreams of running a successful startup but only a few are successful. The purpose of this article is to give people the insight that success doesn’t come overnight and the path to success is not an easy one. You will come across many failures but if you manage to keep going and remain focused on what you want to be and where you want to be then you will find success.
I will share with you in detail about all my failed startups and how you can learn from it if you want to pursue your own startup or you’re struggling with one:
Shine My Ride
In 2013, I had no career objective and I didn’t know what skills I have. So, I randomly tried to find a job but failed to get any. Hence, one day I started to search business ideas on Google and found out that there is no doorstep carwash service in my city — Islamabad. So, in order to gain from this untapped market, I launched my first startup “Shine My Ride”. I did all the homework for it and bought the required equipment, made a Facebook page, posted an ad on a car local car based website — Pakwheels, published few flyers and hired two persons. Surprisingly, I managed to break even in the first two months. I personally visited every client with my team to win his/her trust, got its feedback and retained the customer. However, I found it to be very hectic and lost the excitement since every other day I had to face the problem of human resource. It was because my car cleaning employees used to resign after some time and I had to search for new ones. Eventually, I sold the equipment to my friend and went to Saudi Arabia for a job.
I was inspired by Ladbible and Unilad blogs. I thought it would a fun idea to create similar content. Although I adapted it to the Pakistani audience. So, I named my blog “Pakistanilad” and wrote articles for it but it didn’t work out in the end. I realized that it will take 6 months to a year to make it successful as visitors slowly increased over time. However, I lost interest with time and eventually left the blog in the dust.
KatchUp (Previously PoondiApp)
I always used to dream of having my own social app. For this purpose, I did some research and got to know that there is no Pakistani made Social App. This encouraged me to develop a dating app but while doing so I made a mistake by picking up a controversial name “PoondiApp” (a taboo word not socially accepted in Pakistan) which I first thought that it may help in making it viral. It did go viral as planned but I was not able to retain the customers as the female audience wasn’t happy with the name and the app was then mostly used by men. I even tried Kickstarter campaign to get some funds but to no avail. One day I got an idea of developing another app which I thought had more potential than a dating app. Eventually, I put a hold to PoondiApp, and started working on the other app named “Shots”.
Shots idea came from Snapchat. I really loved its photo/video sharing feature, but it lacked two things. First, there was no feature to make your content go viral and second, there was no search option for the content. Therefore, I made a similar app but added a feature that takes your photo/video and then adds it to a location nearby. Thus making content searchable through location.
I pursued this because I wanted to make something that goes big and becomes a competitor of Snapchat. The same team of PoondiApp was tasked to develop it and User interface was developed by me. After making its first prototype, the app had different technical issues, it was slow, and developers were expensive to hire. After spending 3 months on it, I was out of cash.
I even tried Plan B. I started running after investors, but nobody liked my idea. They felt like its same as Snapchat. Their view was that location feature won’t add anything important. With no money and no development team, the app was stuck in its first prototype. I decided to shut it down. But I kept the app live on Google play to show my unfinished creation and its potential to come.
The same feature was later found in Instagram stories. You can see this app on the Google play store with the date it was published, and anyone can compare it when Instagram stories feature was launched.
Zest — In-Home Massage
I went to Thailand for vacation. There, I got impressed by Thai massage and it sparked an idea in my mind that why don’t I contribute and revolutionize Pakistan’s tourism by bringing traditional Pakistani massage? So, after getting back to Pakistan, I started a new project called “Zest — In-Home Massage”, a doorstep massage service for men only. I made a promotional video by myself and shared it on all relevant Facebook groups. The same day, I got nearly 100 calls. Unfortunately, out of 100 calls, only one was genuine and other 99 people thought that it was a sex business. I kept on getting calls from the perverts asking for night rates and female masseurs. Sadly, I had to shut it down as this was not a suitable business for a Pakistani audience.
The massage was not the only thing that I got inspired during my Thailand trip; I also manage to notice that taxis in Pakistan do not have a taxi ad carrier kind of thing. So, I decided to start this taxi-based advertising in Pakistan and named it “Taxi ad”. I ordered a taxi ad carrier from China and tried to make its clone in fiber, but I failed to make a perfect copy of it. I went to taxi drivers to get their feedback and presented them my business model, but they never liked the idea and eventually, I had to abandon this idea too.
So, I failed in all 6 startups. My biggest mistake was that I left the project when I felt dishearten or unmotivated. You can say I lacked consistency and the passion to continue a project that had potential.
Moral of my story is that you should not lose hope in whatever startup you are pursuing and most importantly; remain consistent with your project. Stick to one startup you’re working on. Don’t lose hope and keep your emotions aside. Every startup takes time. Imagine what it would have been if I had invested all my money and time in all those 6 years in one startup? I guess there was a high probability that I might have succeeded in that particular startup.
Let me know what you think about my story and feel free if you want to discuss anything about marketing or startups, you can tweet to me on @AsharJamil