The Startup Graveyard: A Place to Remember And Learn

That’s a fun project to build!

And yet, it has become a reality. Reaching the top spot in Product Hunt back in May, and getting lots of mentions from outlets all over the world.

What is it? It’s a site dedicated to failed startups.

Complete with colored coffin vectors, rockets in flames, css, company names, and the reasons the teams behind them didn’t make it.

So, what’s the idea here?

Well, the site is created as “ a resource for entrepreneurs to avoid making the same mistakes as failed startups”. It’s a really cool database. A great idea. With a sad aftertaste perhaps.. But useful for research, nevertheless.

Why did they fail?

Oh, all sorts of reasons. Lack of funds, bad tech, bad implementation.. the list is very long and quite detailed. You can spend a lot of time there if you need the research. Or just because you’re qurious.

And if you take a closer look, you will identify a common pattern in many cases. A reason, often overlooked by the founders of these startups. A reason that can take many forms.

Lack of focus. Lack of urgency. No real pain. Not a clear vision (or Unique Selling Proposition)

If you spend some time there, you will see these reasons popping out all over the place. And they are all symptoms of the same problem.

Bad copy.

Bad copy can mean different things in different situations. It can mean no company mission page. A decent one, that is. A page explaining what our greater vision is. Not what solution we found to a problem. The big picture as we see it. This is the first thing any startup (or innovator) should to. Find this one first. Then talk about solutions, pains, and explain what you do. And prove it works!

It can also mean bad conversion copy. A bad homepage, a vague landing page, or mediocre website copy.

It can mean no “about us” pages. Who are we? What’s our story? How did our past and our experiences brought us here? If my clients don’t know my story, my influences, my journey, and my “crazy” habits, how can they relate to me?

How can I fix this?

You need to start writing.

About you.

Your big idea.

Your company.

Your daily routines. Your hopes and dreams. The things you saw today and made you smile (or furious).

And you need to fix your site’s copy (if it needs fixing). Copy is paramount today. Equally important.

In a world full of noise, your stories and the way you talk to your tribe are deal makers -or breakers-.

Your stories can define you. So use them to your advantage.

I know, many founders put these things aside. Focusing on the technical part. Not enough time, right? Or money.. Or not important.

And so we see many companies with a one pager.. Saying something cool.. Which makes no sense to the world.. But it’s cool.. Like a cool dragon..With flames coming out of his mouth..

Or we see a page with a name and nothing else. These are the companies way “cooler” than the ones above. Sometimes they don’t even tell you what to do or where to go.. Go to the app store? Search on google for more info?

You know what I’m talking about.

You’ve seen it so many times.

The thing is..

If you don’t think your story is important enough..

Why should the rest of the world think your product or service is important enough for them to care.

So, give your stories some credit. And start telling them. Because people actually care. They are curious. Who are the guys that made this? What makes them tick?

And if your idea has ended somewhere inside the Startup graveyard, you can try again! Besides, a bad decision is not a mistake. A mistake is making the same bad decision twice -or more, depending on how selfish you are-.

Be safe everybody!

Leo.

Come up with a ”Creative Opening” for your stories…Every time…Without breaking a sweat.

Remember your first day at school? When you walked into the classroom for the first time?

Maybe the first time you went to the beach and jumped from a tall rock into the sea?

What about when you had your driver’s licence test? Remember how that one felt?

Sure, for some it was OK…no sweat.

But a lot of us were nervous. I mean, even if you were cool with it you must have had friends who were worried they were going to fail their driving test. Maybe they closed their eyes and screamed as they jumped from that rock.. Being cool was very important back then, right?

And then, we did it anyway. The test finished and we took our driver’s licence. And when we got our heads out of the water and took that first breath, it didn’t seem so hard. Right? It was actually easier than it felt at first. Because unless we try, we just can’t be sure.

-OK, but what does this have to do with starting a story creatively?

It’s quite simple actually. You see..

One way or another we all have to tell a story at some point.

For some, it’s their job. To write for the company’s blog. Or the copy for their ads.

For others it’s something that has to be done sometimes. Like a presentation. Or a guest post. A podcast. A wedding toast..

Whatever the reason, how you start your story is important. If you’re not used to writing, it can be hard. So, how do you overcome it?

If you wait for inspiration to write you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter. -Dan Poynter

The creative start is a ‘cool’ way to do it, and it’s actually a very simple one. No need for special lessons, or fancy language.

So, what is “creative”?

Well, one way to explain creativity, is to bring together two seemingly irrelevant concepts, and make them fit into each other.

You know, like “Cowboys and Aliens” (that’s a movie)..

or in our case..

“your driver’s licence exam” and “creative openings”.

-Right. And how can I do this every time?

-Simple. You just find the word -or words- that best describes your main point.

In this case, it is “something that is easier than it seems”.

So, “starting your story with a creative opening is easier than it seems”.

What is easier than it seems? I came out with the first day at school. Or an exam. Or a seemingly “dangerous” game, and how they proved to be easier than we thought after we went through the experience.

That’s it.

You find the main idea, and you tell a small story; just a paragraph (or two if you feel like it).

And, voila! You have a creative opening. Two irrelevant ideas, that come together to make sense, and start your story.

Cool, right?

Here’s another example..

Let’s say I want to write an article about dealing with the consequences of your actions.

One way to start could be a story about a house fire.

The owner fell asleep holding a lit cigarette.

He/she suddenly woke up from all the smoke, and called the fire department.

The house was saved with minimal damages, thanks to the fast response of the firefighters. But when everyone left, the owner is left with the task of cleaning and repairing the house. Someone has to do it. How will the owner deal with the consequences? What about lifestyle changes?

So again,

House fire / Consequences of our actions.

Irrelevant terms (at first), that come together to tell a story.

Once you do it a couple of times, it will be very easy to come up with these openings.

In the rare case you get stuck, just “google it”. Literally go to google search, and type your main idea. Look at the results, the photos, the videos.. you will find it.

Like all other parts in non-fiction writing, if you have a framework, you can start, develop, and finish a piece worth reading, quite easily.

So, find the main point, tell a story about it, and create your piece.

Take care, and be safe everybody,

Leo.