Some time ago we closed down Overto – startup I was involved in. It was a failure – pretty obvious thing since we’ve closed the service. Since we learn much on our mistakes I think a reliable analysis why the business have failed should be valuable for you. For the beginning things we screwed.
No one working full time
From the very beginning we knew none of people engaged is willing to leave their daily jobs to commit fully to the startup. We thought we’d able to run internet service after hours. To some point that was true. As far as nothing bad was happening with the servers and the application it was all fine. We were working on new features when we had enough free time. Problems started when we faced some issues with our infrastructure. We weren’t able to resolve issues on the fly and had several downtimes. You can guess how it influenced user experience. That also backfired on service development since we had to focus on current problems instead of adding new functionalities. Lack of person working full-time and being able to deal with maintenance and bug fixing was the most important reason of failure.
Catching the market
That’s partially a consequence of the previous point. Since we spent majority of our limited time on trying to keep the service running we weren’t able to catch the changing market. We needed to cover new areas to move the application to another level but we couldn’t complete ongoing development. The whole project stopped in beta version and for users it didn’t look like anything was about to change.
Thin line between life and death of internet service is a number of users. For the initial period of time the numbers were growing systematically. Then we hit the ceiling of what we could achieve effortlessly. It was a time to do some marketing. Unfortunately no one of us was skilled in that area. Even worse, no one had enough time to fill the gap. That would be another stopper if we dealt with the problems mentioned above.
We hadn’t checked very well a business model we set up on the beginning. We were surprised a couple of our features weren’t as unique as we’d initially thought. Ironically that wasn’t a big problem since we had a bunch of ideas how to adjust the strategy in a new situation. Anyway, you should plan to change your initial business model.
After we’d decided we won’t be able to maintain the service in the long run we had a chance to sell it. To make a long story short we screwed negotiations starting with way too high price. We thought more about how much work we put into the project than how much it can be worth for potential buyers. Things are worth as much as one’s willing to pay for them, no matter how long it took you to produce them.
Waiting too long with final decisions
I think that one is a bit sentimental. Since the service was our child we were reluctant to make a decision about closing it faster and limit losses. We’ve been tricking ourselves thinking that everything would be fine while we couldn’t get the application back to work properly.
Whole Entrepreneurs Time series.