2001-2002 E&I Computers – FAILED
Idea: Sell cheap computers
I learned that it’s fun to partner with a friend to start a business, but rarely are the dedications and dreams equal and consistent enough to work. I also learned that I set my prices too low to ever be feasible.
2001-2004 Nukedit – FAILED
Idea: Free, easy to edit content management system.
I learned that giving something away for free has value, but only if I have a plan to transition the customer towards profit. Luckily the popularity of Nukedit was used to help promote my next startup, VroomVroomVroom.
2004-2014 VroomVroomVroom – SUCCEEDED
I adopted this startup from a friend and treated it as my own. Interestingly, I failed at 100’s of different experiments to try to get it to grow. Eventually, enough of the experiments worked and it paid off. It is now Australia’s most popular website for renting cars. It books over $50m in car rentals/year.
2006-2010 Car Insurance Comparison – SUCCEEDED
I earned small net profits from this business overall, so technically, it succeeded. However, I learned that neglect will obviously lead to failure. It should have sold for over $1m. I neglected it and procrastinated, so it lost it’s search engine value and I sold it for only $50,000. In this regard, it is a failure. Lesson learned about neglect, procrastination and that the worst enemy of a good idea is a different good idea.
2010 Toast – FAILED
I bought Toast.com.au domain name for $22,000. I wanted it to compete with Reddit before it became popular in Australia. I was way too slow. I learned that I need to move fast. I also learned that I shouldn’t spend stupid money on a domain name before I have proof of viability.
2012 GreenLogo – FAILED
The idea was to pay for the carbon offsets of peoples website servers. I learned that I need to do more market research to find out if people actually want the product I was making.
2008 Fruitbox.com – FAILED
I thought I could make an amazing wordpress theme using outsourced staff in India. I failed to outsource programming work effectively as I thought I could apply the same rules as when hiring domestically. I learned that outsourcing work is effective, when done right. I learned to ask careful, open ended questions and to counter the hit ‘n’ miss problem, I should hire multiple people to do the same work for one week as a test. And then offer more permanent work to the most effective tallent.
2014 Grab Graphics – http://Grab.graphics – TO BE DECIDED
I’ve spent approximately 4 weekends on this startup so far. It sells one massive zip file of graphics that have unlimited use for an unlimited time. I’ve had one sale so far in its first 2 weeks. I’ve used my lessons on brand naming, marketing, bootstrap budgeting and simple design.
2014 Results Please http://ResultsPlease.com – TO BE DECIDED
I want Results Please to be the Trip Advisor of online marketing companies. Starting with SEO. I’ll either help you find a great SEO company or I’ll recruit and train your internal team to be one of the best in Australia. Wish me luck! Yes, I’ve learned that luck does come into it. Luck of being at the right time at the right place with the right unique set of skills. Then luck to meet the right people at the right time.
Biggest lesson of all
The most important lesson I’ve learned with failed and successful startups is that there are no failures. Only experiments and lessons. If I’m not failing at something, then I’m not conducting difficult enough experiments.