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.

The One About Passion

“We are passionate about ________”. (Whatever)

Really guys?

Because the rest of us are like…”meh, we just love to drive an hour to get to our offices, just to slack off .. “

(No, not that Slack … OK, maybe that one too.. )

Passion is a great thing to have..

I mean, who doesn’t want to live the passionate life of two great lovers. Or the one of an inventor..an innovator..a change maker!

We get it. We all do.

Yet, passion is not enough. Because passion is an extreme. I comes from the Greek word, pathos. It is the same root word for hurting, something bad that happens to you. Pathos is an extreme situation that doesn’t last long. And all it does, is make us seek the next thrill when it’s over.

Just like happiness.

Passion makes us happy. But happiness doesn’t last forever. It’s funny, but the Greek word for happines literally means good luck, good fortune. And we all know luck doesn’t last forever. Well, for most of us at least 🙂

Happiness can also be selfish. It can simply mean to make more money, buy a bigger car or house. Which is OK, by the way. Money and property are worthy goals. But they don’t produce lasting happiness. That one is reserved for those actions that have a positive social impact. That benefit us, and those around us. That’s why helping others can crack a smile even on the face of the most ruthless businessman.

So, what about passion then?

If passion is not enough, we need something more. And what we need is virtue. But not the one you are used to hearing from your parents or reading in the books.

Come on man, really?

Yes, virtue. Because long before religion came into the scene to give virtue the theological meaning of the path to heaven (or wherever one goes according to his/her beliefs), virtue had a different meaning.

Virtue is to combine, to mold together two or more opposite ideas or behaviours.

Like being stingy, or being spendthrift; blowing your money away without thinking. The middle ground here (the virtuous one) could be a philanthropist, -a friend of the people-. Someone who spends more than most people do, but for a worthy cause.

Virtue gives you the clarity to think of all those things that have to be in place for your passion to be truly your path of success.

So yes, you can choose your passion to be your job. I mean, what could be more awesome and fullfilling? Doing what you love is more important than a paycheck.. And you will be so much better at your job if you love what you’re doing… Right?

Wrong..

First of all, by thinking like that, you are saying that your life is fulfilled only by your passion. But as we just said, passion is an extreme and as such it cannot last for long.

Moreover, for passion to be your path, you need some safeguards in place; some prerequisites that have to be met in order for your passion to be a long-lasting career choice. You know, things like those three below:

  • You have colleagues that support the company vision and each other
  • You are compensated adequately according to your life standards
  • Your job produces something meaningful (repetitive-type jobs are the worst for this one)

Your passion can also be a restriction to your potential. If you are good at drawing for example -and everyone else around you tells you that all of the time-, you could limit yourself to a career path of an illustrator, where in fact you could be an excellent coder, and fail to realise it because of the limiting beliefs you and your surroundings share.

Or, you can have more than one passions. Which one would you follow then? How do you decide if you don’t know how much a job will leave you satisfied as a person?

So, What Am I Supposed To Do?

I honestly cannot offer a definite answer to this one. What I can offer is simply the way I deal with this situation, and what I offer as an opinion to a friend or colleague that asks for it. For me, it is more a matter of context than of content. What life has taught me, is that you can start a new career, and grow to love it, to make it your passion.

Because no matter what you do, if you:

  • surround yourself with colleagues you feel good with
  • your job is meaningful to you
  • your job helps others
  • you try to get better at it every-single-day

then you my friend, have found your passion! And like so many others, you can start your journey to Ithaca, but the sea and the winds can take you to a new and glorious land you never thought you would plant your roots in.

So, that’s it! Passion is a great feeling to have, but most of the times it’s a bad idea to base your life’s decisions solely on it. Instead, you should look for things and people that fulfill you, and stick with them. Even if they don’t appear too sexy at first.

Now, back to slacking! (Yes, that one…)

Be safe everyone!

Leo.