Read a post today by Andrew Chen on mobile app start-ups which likened their success rate to those of 1999 – bubble time. I participated in a web start-up in 2006-2008, called Zude, when Facebook had only 18 million users. Zude had $10 million in funding (2 rounds) and shut down in less than 2 years. I was thinking over the weekend, before I read Mr. Chen’s post, how if we had stayed the course with Zude and stretched that money out, we would have succeeded. We would have learned like school kids what was working and what was not. We would have course-corrected, not given up because we faced an unsustainable burn rate. We chose not to learn, it seemed.
The technology was good. The vision was good, albeit a little bifurcated. The drunkin’ sailor spending approach, however, was crazy. At one point we had two CFOs. Even the marketing dude (me) could have looked at the ledger sheet and known changes were needed.
In his post Mr. Chen suggests “don’t burn half of your funding to get to v1.” I agree. Perhaps this is the foundation of the agile approach – never read the books. My take? Learning works best over time. If you stick around long enough – stay alive long enough – you have a good shot. Start-ups that quickly discard and move onto the next thing aren’t always giving themselves the best chance for success. Just sayin’. Peace.