We hear a lot about the latest startups and their ambition to change the world, yet we rarely hear about the failed startups. As the old saying goes “You learn more from failures than you do from
Once upon a time, I got into event management back in 2011 with a few friends as a way to make some cash on the side. It was a fun way to spend the weekends and I got to meet a lot of people. About 6 or so months in, we decided that we needed our own website on which we could showcase our events and help us stand out from the crowd. With that idea, I thought “How hard could building a static website be?”.
You see, I have a long history of Graphic Design as I started in 2004 as a 13-year-old, designing signatures on a forum that I used to visit. When we started building this website I would design the user interface and then “cut” the design into tables. It was a horrible process to go through but the magic of showing someone a website that I designed on a live website was breathtaking to me. Whilst building the website, I would read up more about web design and I had come to realize that I already “knew” a lot about designing websites as a lot of the terminology was shared between Photoshop and CSS (The sheet that helps beautify a website)
With time and experience, I learned more about PHP and content management systems which drove a new founded hobby into something more. It wasn’t until 2013 when I had the idea for an event management startup called 'Vitee'.
Living the dream
Vitee came from a mix of passion and frustration; the passion for events and tech but with the frustration of how unreliable the tools we used for event promotions were. I applied to the Mashroo3i program and got through to the finals. Unfortunately, it did not win the top 3 but won the “most innovative product” award.
As time went on, both Vitee’s team and user acquisition were growing. We had users joining the platform and attending events because of us and event promoters adding their events on the platform. It was always fun to see those numbers increase as we watched our analytic tool work its magic.
Then it crashed hard. Vitee was active from late 2014 to mid-2016.
Reality hits hard
The first month of not working on Vitee was weird for me. I had invested almost 3 years in it, and waking up in the morning to nothing felt wrong. I felt no closure, just abandonment. It became hard to break the news to close ones as they would ask about the business and I could see the disappointment in their eyes as they had ideas of their own that they wanted to see come alive. Who wouldn’t want a feature that they requested to show up?
As someone who can’t stand the victimhood mentality, I couldn’t sit around hoping something would change so I decided to take action: I would learn.
While I got hired as a freelance full stack developer at Limefish, I invested heavily in my time to catch up on PHP, APIs, MYSQL and all the new elements in HTML5 / CSS3. The more I learned, the more tools I was building just to prove to myself that I could do it. I would build contact forms, automated scripts, logins, dashboards and so much more. I had this strong anger towards myself for not knowing how to code well that I would be up till 6 o’clock in the morning (and be awake by 10 am!) just interacting on Reddit, reading documentation and coding away. It got to a point where I’d often decline invites to hang out with friends because I was so captivated by it all.
Gentlemen, we can rebuild
It’s been a year and a half since I went on this unknown path and to say I learned a lot would be an understatement. I have worked on plenty of projects for many businesses (Hello, Majra!) but I do look back at Vitee once in a while thinking “Given the chance, could I build it?” and with each passing day the answer has become a confident “yes!”.
Oh look, my coding editor just opened up…
To wrap up:
- Cut your ego out. Nobody wants to admit that they failed to friends and family but accept it! You won’t feel like you’re living a lie.
- Nobody cares that your startup failed. So, work out what went wrong and fix it for the next start-up you build or company you work at. Even mega-corporation has re-released the same product twice and improved on it. (I’m looking at you Microsoft with Games for Windows and Xbox Play Anywhere!)
- Have goal-oriented friends. They say you are the average of the 5 people you most associate with! Their goals do not even have to be about business, it can be subjective, such as “Lose 5kg in 2 months” or “Make so and so Dinars to travel around Europe”.
- Don’t give up! A fantastic actor does not stop acting because of one failed movie, they keep going even when they’ve passed their big break!
- Treat it like a breakup. When you go through a breakup, there are two reactions that happen which is either you sit at home and ask “What if?” with a large bowl of ice cream or you hit the gym. In 2+ months, when your ex-crawls back would you rather be the person still clinging onto scraps or the person who’s on the road to improvement?