It is not the end of this world if your startup is total fail! It wasn’t like that for Nikki in the beginning maybe but now she openly talks about her experience with 99dress.
Did you remember 19-year-old startup founder girl from Australia Nikki Durkin? Name is familiar right?
I just read her brilliant writing about her experience on 99dress and her failure during her first start-up.
Most of the time we are reading about how awesome to be an entrepreneur, how much money they made in a such young ages, blah blah. But this time the story is bitter. Bitter but real. There are some fancy words about success in this story but with bitter-sweat taste!
All of us can have points to our career with this story. I am going to share to you my favorite parts from Nikki’s story!
to remember and memorize!
There were 5 investors who invested in me, despite all of this. They believed in me when I was having trouble believing in myself, but I couldn’t show them that — that’s the cardinal sin of any entrepreneur. Always be confident. Always be smiling. Always stay positive. Sell, sell, sell!
Believing yourself is the most difficult challenge in the life not only fot entrepreneurship but also in even your daily life. In my case, I remember how arrogant I was at the university. All of my friends believe in me to become CEO or something one the biggest companies in the city someday. Me thinking? Of course! Who else has that much experience in university at that time of age? In fact so many of them that I made fun of become really decent businessman or woman. That part form Nikki’s story is one the biggest lesson to take from it. She didn;t feel secure and confident and I was too confident and maybe self-centered. Be humble! Not arrogant or lack of confidence!
The market had moved on, competitors had flooded the space and the product we had built just didn’t provide enough value in comparison.
It is one of the biggest challenge in the entrepreneur’s world. You have a great idea! You can be too soon or too late to do something about it. Nikki’s timing is perfect in the beginning. Unfortunately she became victim of consequences.
Try to be focused don’t lose your time with details. Be action person!
As an entrepreneur I HATE feeling helpless. I’m used to taking action on something and producing some kind of result. I like being in control. In this instance I felt completely helpless, and my startup was at the mercy of a government worker on a power trip.
Government can be always in your way with procedure. I actually always admire for Marx Weber’s bureaucracy idea. In ideal world I don’t think he is the one who wants to make everything difficult. This is government stuff. It is never flexible environment for people like us. So don’t be irresponsible or arrogant. Hold the candle to the devil until everything is fine!
I’ve realized that money isn’t a huge motivator for me — but it did flare my competitive side. We probably all compare ourselves to others way more than we should…
I remembered my first job with her lines. The money isn’t huge motivator for me neither. Even I need it so badly in a huge city like Istanbul without any help from my family. Because my dad wanted me to go back my hometown. Like Nikki’s mom, my mum stand behind me. (I suppose motherhood is the biggest entrepreneurship.)
Even you think money is not everything don’t be too humble more than 1 year. Money is the biggest motivation in business life. After I quitted my first-small-salary-but-self-boss-like-independent-job, I recognize I can be more creative with money. This is not about actually money. Actually you get back your self confidence with bigger salary. The feeling of you did it and enjoy with it, is the greatest feeling.
Whilst our retention was great, we worried about our activation rate.
Number doesn’t say right things all the time. Learn how to read numbers. I remember one of the biggest investor I know told me that every one of them had great ideas and ability to do business but they din’t have any idea about numbers or how finance could change everything in business. Don’t be naive. Be not only creative team leader but also analyst and accountant of your own business.
Bridge rounds* just aren’t that sexy.
Before running a company, please learn about the investment stages! Study your homework well. We knew so many entrepreneur lost their companies over VC’s. This is the most difficult, challenging and tricky part of entrepreneurship. In Nikki’s story, I suppose she handle that situation very well to consider her age during at that time. I don’t think I am still that much brave.
If someone asks how your startup is doing, you fire off some kind of positive phrase like a reflex.
I remember my first job in Istanbul back in 2010. I barely make money from my startup company, but I had to tell my boss is great and everything goes very well. I know the feeling very well, indeed.
My first instinct was to apologize — to Marcin, to my team, to my investors, to the loyal community we’d built. I felt shame, guilt, embarrassment — like a shepherd who’d led her sheep off a cliff when it was my responsibility to keep them safe. I logically knew that I shouldn’t feel these things, but emotions aren’t always logical.
As she mentioned on her last statement, don’t be too emotional. This is business. You can make your investors richer than ever or make them lost couple more bucks. (sounds so easy right 🙂 ) Because they know startup investments always have some risks. Probably your age is same as your investor’s business life. Failed business is just a part of the life and they know it but It is still nice to have humanity and some feelings about what to do. But don’t go hard on yourself.
As a woman going out in NYC my nights were normally cheap because cute guys would buy me drinks, but I am not the kind of woman who expects that. I’m independent. If I couldn’t pay for myself then I wasn’t going out at all.
So this is what I most respect about that girl. I don’t think she-is-20-something girl. She is real independent woman!
Most startups fail, and yet this industry doesn’t talk about failure nearly enough.
That is true. But how can you make things dreamy If you are talking about negative side of it! Besides I love to hear about failing stories because you can see things more clear even you are not involved that businesses. I am so glad to Nikki to share her story to us.
So has your start-up been failed yet?
How is it feel?
* Bridge round: Also known as “interim financing”, “gap financing” or a “swing loan”.