≡ Menu
Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Lessons Learned: Startup Failure Part 2

Last time I shared mistakes we made while working on Overto – startup which was closed down some time ago. Today another part – things we did right and are worth replaying next time I’ll be engaged in a startup.

Setting up a company behind

Setting a company, which is quite an effort in Poland, from the very beginning was really a good idea. All founders knew each other well so lack of trust wasn’t the main reason standing behind the decision. We just wanted to give ourselves a bit of motivation making it a real business. However thing we didn’t really plan was that we gained much credibility showing company’s details instead of letting people think the whole thing was created by some student during holidays and won’t be supported in any way in future. Seeing a company behind a service doesn’t guarantee you it won’t die but at least you can be sure someone cares.

Long discussions before start

Before launching the project we had very long discussions about what we plan to do and how we want to do it. Of course not every detail was checked but when I compare Overto to other startupish projects I was working on it was really well-thought at the beginning.

Wide range of roles covered with our experience

We had really good pack to run an internet service. Development, administration, user support – in all those areas we had experience from the past. There weren’t many things which could have surprise us. We weren’t forced to look for a specialist in any technical aspect of building our application.

Working in the same place

For some time we worked in the same building which helped much in decision-making process. We could all meet ad-hoc whenever something important had to be decided. After some time we spread among different places and suddenly we saw how much value was in working in the same office.

Despite we invested some money to fund the project I don’t treat it as a loss. For experience I gained it was a low price. Another time when I’ll decide to jump to that kind of project chances of success will be bigger.

First part of lessons learned from startup failure

Whole Entrepreneurs Time series.

in: entrepreneurship, software business

7 comments… add one

  • Paul Marculescu January 22, 2009, 2:24 pm

    Valuable lessons here, Pawel.

    How many people were on the team for Overto?

    I’m also curious about the issues you started facing after you began working from different places.

  • Pawel Brodzinski January 25, 2009, 9:15 am

    There were 4 of us, but like I’ve already mentioned no one worked full time on the project.

    When we split communication became just harder. Most of the time we were talking only via instant messangers and emails, while earlier we could meet whenever we needed.

  • Paul Marculescu January 26, 2009, 5:42 am

    Yep, I understand that you had to go from face-2-face meetings to email discussions, but in my opinion, writing things down in emails is more efficient than live talk, for the following reasons:

    It’s natural to keep the discussion focused on different aspects. Talking makes this a bit chaotic.

    It’s easier to follow a point of view, when you have it written in front of view and you may easily go back and forth on the thread.

    Writing instead of talking makes people think deeper about what is it that they want to communicate.

    Everything that’s discussed gets in some sort of storage for further reference.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, going to communication through a written medium is more efficient than having live meetings. That’s why I didn’t understand what you were referring to when you said that working from the same place was better.

  • Pawel Brodzinski January 26, 2009, 8:34 am

    Try to do some brainstorming via email then. The best way of communication depends on what do you want to achieve. At that time we still needed a lot of open-ended discussions which pushed the project ahead.

    I don’t agree on efficiency of written communication as a rule either. It takes significantly more time to write some things down than to say them. You get feedback later so you can spend some time digging in a dead-end instead of getting quick reposnse pointing you the right way etc.

    Of course there are situations where emails of instant messengers are better but at that time we needed more face-to-face meetings than we could organize while we were spread over different localizations.

  • Paul Marculescu January 26, 2009, 2:31 pm

    It’s true that it all depends on what you want to communicate and what you need to achieve.

    There is nothing wrong to talking, of course, but I prefer to have everything written down when it comes to projects collaboration.

    In any case, our conversation here inspired me for a new blog post, as a long answer to this, as seen from my point of view.

  • soenandar April 27, 2009, 6:32 pm

    What if half of you decided to quit and work full time, do you think that makes a different for your business?

  • Pawel Brodzinski April 27, 2009, 11:42 pm

    It would make a difference at least in a couple of areas:

    1. There would be higher pressure to push development of the service. Having a day job makes you feel safe. Feeling safe makes you more prone to failure since you can get over it. Hey, you still have your main job.

    2. There would be better maintenance of the service. One thing we struggled was everyday maintenance of the platform. A series of crashes happened and it took long time to recover from each. It would be different if someone worked on it as his main job, not during time stolen from other activities.

Leave a Comment