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Showing posts with label startups. Show all posts
Showing posts with label startups. Show all posts

Monday, March 24, 2014

Failure Conference Roundup

Failure conferences have become all the rage. On a personal note, I had recently keynoted "Fail Forward 2014" at Loughborough College in England, a first of its kind in the UK, aiming to change the culture, feeling and understanding of failure, by bringing people together and provoking conversation on the subject of failure as a precursor to success. Here's a short list of recent events around the globe: April 2014 Failure:Lab, Michigan State U, East Lansing, Michigan March 2014 Fail Forward 2014, Loughborough UK March 2014 Failcon NL, Amsterdam, Holland March 2014 Fear and Failure, Ljubljana, Slovenija Aware of other conferences and/or seminars on failure? We'd love to hear from you, drop us a line.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Personal Failure - Veranto RIP, 1999-2001

My personal story of failure hails back to the first bubble - used to be online but seems to have disappeared, so posting a link to my personal narrative, published in Repertoire magazine back in December of 2001. Would love to hear comments - help me learn!

One's Story
Update - found a link online.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Collection of Quotes on Failure and Success

"A Quote-a-day keeps failure away..." :-)
Erik A. Steiner, Innovator and Entrepreneur

Nov 24, 2013

“If something fails despite being carefully planned, carefully designed, and conscientiously executed, that failure often bespeaks underlying change and, with it, opportunity.”

Peter F. Drucker, Author and Leading Management Thinker

Nov 18, 2013

"Fail Forward Fast.

It is far better to have sloppy success than to have perfect procrastination. It is easy to get caught up in the endless tinkering and perfecting of a project. It is true some things require perfection – most simply need excellence. All need action today!

Do you find yourself waiting to launch important projects? Are you forever splitting hairs about elements that are not mission critical. Do you spend hours and hours on details that don’t matter much?

Start your Monday with action! In taking action you may fail – but even that failure will move you forward toward ultimate success. Pick a project you have been putting off and begin today to take the action which will accelerate your path to achievement. "

Tom Peters, "Father" of All Business Gurus, Incredible Guy

Nov 17, 2013

"Life is pretty simple:
You do some stuff.
Most fails.
Some works.
You do more of what works.
If it works big, others quickly copy it.
Then you do something else.
The trick is the doing something else."

Tom Peters, "Father" of All Business Gurus, Incredible Guy

Nov 3, 2013

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward."
Thomas Edison, American Inventor and Businessman

Nov 2, 2013

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President

Oct 26, 2013

Thoughts from Guy Kawasaki:

"Let’s say a startup is hot. It ships something great, and it achieves success. Thus, it’s able to attract the best, brightest, and most talented. These people have been told they’re the best since childhood. Indeed, being hired by the hot company is “proof” that they are the A and A+ players; in fact, the company is so hot that it can out-recruit Google and Microsoft.

Unfortunately, they develop a fixed mindset that they’re the most talented, and they think that continued success is a right. Problems arise because pure talent only works as long as the going is easy. Furthermore, they don’t take risks because failure would harm their image of being the best, brightest, and most talented. When they do fail, they deny it or attribute it to anything but their shortcomings.

And this is the beginning of the end."

(Source: The Effort Effect)

Guy Kawasaki, Author, Speaker and Investor

Oct 25, 2013

"Ambitious failure, magnificent failure, is a very good thing."
Guy Kawasaki, Author, Speaker and Investor

Oct 24, 2013

"We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails."
Bertha Calloway, Founder of the Great Plains Black Museum

Oct 23, 2013

"Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be."
John Wooden, American Basketball player and coach

Oct 22, 2013

"Success is never permanent, and failure is never final."
Mike Ditka, former American football NFL player, television commentator, and coach

Oct 21, 2013

"Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker."
Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

Oct 20, 2013

"Failure is a detour not a dead end street."
Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

Oct 19, 2013

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
Pablo Picasso, Artist

Oct 16, 2013

"Failure is the price of excellence."
Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer prize winning commentator

Oct 12, 2013

"We learn from failure, not from success!"
Bram Stoker, Author (Dracula!)

Oct 11, 2013

"When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures, so I did 10 times more work."
George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

Oct 10, 2013

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn't really matter.”
Dwight L Moody, Evangelist

Oct 9, 2013

"I thrive on failure. I thrive on things that are not perfect. It sends me back into the ring to get it right.”
Tom Ford, Designer

September 8th 2013

"Persistence can change #failure into extraordinary achievement."
Matt Biondi, Olympic Athlete, Swimmer

Dec 19, 2012

"Many people dream of success. To me succes can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work that results from the ninety-nine percent that is called failure."
Soichiro Honda, Engineer, Founder of Honda Motor Company (aka "Honda")

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 15, 2012

"Failure is the foundation of success, and the means by which it is achieved."
Lao Tzu, Philosopher

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 14, 2012

"The Achilles heel of failure: hindsight is 20/20."
Erik A. Steiner, Innovator and Entrepreneur

Dec 13, 2012

This time, a poem... IF by Rudyard Kipling


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, short-story writer, poet, novelist

Dec 12, 2012

"Only he who does nothing makes no mistakes."
French Proverb

As quoted in The Power of Failure: 27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

Dec 9, 2012

"He that is overcautious will accomplish little."
Friedrich von Schiller, Poet, Philosopher, Historian and Playwright

As quoted in The Ten Commandments for Business Failure

Dec 8, 2012

"For this is the tragedy of man-circumstances change, but he doesn't."
Machiavelli, Historian, Politician, Diplomat, Philosopher, Humanist and Writer

As quoted in The Ten Commandments for Business Failure

Dec 2, 2012

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."
Bill Cosby, Comedian

Dec 1, 2012

Referring to every well-educated person, Charles Kettering, one of America's greatest inventors and innovators of all time, said, " is not a disgrace to fail, and that he must analyze each failure to find its cause...must learn how to fail intelligently. Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. One fails towards success."
Charles Kettering, Inventor
Quoted in Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins

Nov 12, 2012

"Being successful is kind of dull."
Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari
Quoted in Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins
Nolan Bushnell

Nov 11, 2012

Tom Crouch writing about the Wright Brothers...
"They were as excited about failure as they were by success."
(from The Bishop's Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright)
The Wright Brothers
Tom Crouch

Nov 10, 2012

"One must be God to be able to distinguish successes from failures and not make mistakes."
Anton Chekov

Nov 9, 2012

"Good men are still liable to make mistakes, and are sometimes warmly engaged in errors, which they take for divine truths, shining in their minds with the clearest light."
John Locke

Oct 29, 2012

"If there is a single tragic flaw that mars our biggest enterprises, it is conservatism - the failure to fail, and fail big, in an era of unprecedented volatility and ambiguity."
Tom Peters Oct 17, 2012

"Failure in Innovation - it's a price worth paying."
Tim Harford (from: Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure . New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2011)

Oct 15, 2012

Man has been writing of failure since biblical times. Here we go back to the time of Aristotle, to a controversial quote that I do not believe does justice to reality:

"It is possible to fail in many ways...while to succeed is possible only in one way."
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, II, 6

Oct 14, 2012

"I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest."

John Keats, one of the greatest and most important poets in the history of mankind - born in 1795, he died so so young, only 26. One hesitates to think what Keats would have accomplished in a full lifetime...the following are ruminations from a letter written to one James Hessey on October 8, 1818:

"The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law & precept, but by sensation ad watchfulness in itself - That which is creative must create itself - In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the Sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, & the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea & comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest."
John Keats

Oct 13, 2012

Mark Zbaracki, at the time a professor at NYU, wrote a nice little piece titled "Success, Failure and the Race of Truth" for the Journal of Management Inquiry back in September of 2006. Thought I'd pull a nice quote from there:

"...those moments when life sends us sliding along the pavement or tumbling over the handlebars are gifts, opportunities for clarity..."
Mark J. Zbaracki

Oct 12, 2012

Here's John Adams writing on failure in 1755 (!):
(I received this newest volume from the Library of America today - the man was only twenty years old when he inferred and wrote the following and much more. Incredible. The strange spelling, capitalizations etc. as in the original text)

"If we look into History we shall find some nations rising from contemptible beginnings, and spreading their influence, 'till the whole Globe is subjected to their sway. When they have reach'd the summit of Grandeur, some minute and unsuspected Cause commonly affects their Ruin, and the Empire of the world is transferr'd to some other place. Immortal Rome was at first but an insignificant Village, inhabited only be a few abandoned Ruffins, but by degrees it rose to a stupendous Height, and excell'd in Arts and Arms all the nations that praeceeded it. But the demolition of Carthage (what one should think would have establish'd it in supream dominion) by removing all danger, suffer'd to sink into debauchery, and made it att length an easy prey to Barbarians."
John Adams, Revolutionary Writings, 1755-1775

"There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life."
T H Huxley, On Medical Education (1870)

Oct 10, 2012

"83 percent of Chief Executive Officers fail."
Lucy Kellaway, writing for the Financial Times Oct 9, 2012

"Failure is good. It's fertilizer. Everything I've learned about coaching I've learned from making mistakes."
Rick Pitino, NBA Coach

Oct 8, 2012 - Today I've decided to start up a compendium of my favorite quotes on failure - I'll be making a valiant attempt to post one-a-day (A quote a day keeps the failure away?? :-)

Here's the first one for you all - from the creator of Peter Pan no less:

"We are all failures - at least, all the best of us are."
J. M. Barrie

Just came across this on Gotham so here's another one for today:

“Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better."

Samuel Beckett

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In an excellent NYT article from January 2011 Jay Goltz lays out his top 10 reasons for small business failure.

The short list (for the even shorter list just follow through the underlined phrases...):

  • Business is mathematically challenged - i.e. insufficient demand, too much competition.
  • Owners do not step down when time comes.
  • Sometimes less is more.
  • Poor accounting.
  • Cash flow (btw #1 reason businesses fail overall...).
  • Operational mediocrity.
  • Operational inefficiency.
  • Dysfunctional management.
  • Lack of succession plan.
  • Declining market.

    For a deeper analysis, head over to Goltz's excellent article + bonus insightful comments from his readers.
  • Monday, October 22, 2012

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    More on VC Failure - The Kauffman Foundation Report

    A reader recently shared the Kauffman Foundation report, and it's quite an incredible piece of testimony against the VC industry...

    The Kauffman Foundation is a $2 billion foundation and one of the 30 largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Kauffman focuses on two goals: advancing entrepreneurship and improving the education of children and youth.

    Over the past 20 years the foundation had invested in approximately 100 different VC funds, and therefore has a unique set of statistics on the performance of the VC industry. The results of Kauffman's analysis are staggering in their implications:
  • Since 1997, investors poured more cash into VCs than VCs had distributed to investors (!)
  • Only 20% of venture funds managed to beat the market by more than 3% annually
  • 62% of funds failed to exceed average market returns (!!)
  • The average VC fund FAILS to return investor capital (!!!)

    There is a lot more of interest in this report to anyone that has anything at all to do with start-ups, entrepreneurship, innovation and investment.

    To access the full report, click here.

    To view a video explaining the foundation's findings, click here and then click on the video link.

    As could be expected this report received widespread coverage, here are some of the more prominent analyses and discussions:
  • Geekwire
  • cnet
  • CNN
  • Monday, October 1, 2012

    Top Ten Reasons "Green" Entrepreneurs Fail

    Startup Pro, an award winning blog run by Martin Zwilling, has published an interesting list of the top ten reasons first time entrepreneurs fail. I don't necessarily agree with everything Zwilling writes, but it's definitely a lot of food for thought!

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Why Start-ups Fail

    Back in mid-2000, as the first bubble was imploding, Philip J. Kaplan wrote a wonderful little book called F'd Companies: Spectacular Dot-com Flameouts (highly recommended, and not just for the educational content, it's an amusing read!!)

    In his introduction Kaplan delineates, sarcastically - as he does so well...a paragraph full of reasons why companies fail:
    "Why'd They Fail?"
  • too early...
  • too late...
  • too expensive...
  • too cheap...
  • too big...
  • too much competition...
  • to much supply...
  • not enough demand...
  • management...

    I love Kaplan's description of management...pick up the book to find out more.

    In the next few posts we'll be going more in depth into each of the reasons above. Would love to hear more from you.

    Although is history (why??), you can still follow Philip J. Kaplan masquerading as @pud on twitter.
  • Thursday, September 27, 2012

    WSJ Reports on the top 50 startups - let's start tracking!!

    WSJ has published its annual list of the top 50 start-ups, I believe for the third year running. Titled Looking for the 'Next Big Thing'? Ranking the Top 50 Start-Ups, the annual list is gaining quite a following, and is proving to be a good predictor of future success. Ten of last year's "top 50" have already managed impressive exits, six through IPO and four through acquisitions.

    "Steiner on Failure" will be following the 2012 list to see how well this year's team fares, how many of these companies fail over time - and what we will be able to learn from their failures.

    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Israel - Extremely Low Startup Failure Rate Reported

    As many of you know, the start-up scene in Israel is especially vibrant - for example, although it is one of the smaller countries worldwide, Israel is #3 on the NASDAQ after the US and China...

    It should therefore come as no surprise that the failure rate for start-ups in Israel is extremely low. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics released data on 2,047 companies operating in the realm of research and development between 2003 and 2008. The data set included companies in the following market spaces: semi-conductors, biotech, medical devices, communications, clean tech and electronic components.

    Of the 2,047 companies analyzed, 1,746 (85%) were categorized as start-ups; of these fully 1,222 started up during the term examined. Five years later, 488 of 547 companies that had ceased to exist were startups. Of the 1,222 companies started up from 2003 to 2008, only 35% had failed!

    As a comparison:
  • In Britain 33% of new businesses fail during the first three years.
  • In the US fully 55% of new businesses are out of business by the end of their fifth year of life

    For more on the success of the Israeli start-up community I highly recommed Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle
  • The secrets of my failure: Why ‘winning’ is not our natural state

    Adam Fletcher penned a nice piece on failure for Venture Village, syndicated by VentureBeat - it's titled The Secrets of my Failure.

    btw on the subject of failure in scientific research - less than 5% published - that means more than 95% fails, right? Wrong - because much of the 5% published is manipulated.

    A couple of good books on the subject of error (aka failure) in scientific research and elsewhere are Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us--and how to know when not to trust them *Scientists, finance wizards, doctors, relationship gurus, celebrity CEOs, ... consultants, health officials and more by David H. Freedman or Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    WSJ Publishes Old News on VC-backed Startup Failures

    WSJ published some old news today...according to Deborah Gage, the VC (Venture Capital) secret is that 3 out of 4 startups fail...

    News flash: 1 out of 10 succeeds...

    Rough VC stats are as follows - for each 1,000 business plans a typical VC sees:
    => VC communicates with 100 teams
    ...meets with 10 teams for presentations
    ...invests in ONE single venture

    Success stats are approximately:
    + 5-6 fail ... negative returns
    + 2-3 breakeven - living dead etc. ... zero returns
    + 1-2 minor success ... minor returns, in today's climate barely return VC investments
    + 1 raging success ... major returns, finances the whole deal

    DO THE MATH - for a single raging success a VC team has to review approximately 10,000 business plans, sit through 100 presentations, invest in ten companies and work with them for periods that can stretch out to ten years and beyond.

    It ain't an easy business - even if top firms like Kleiner Perkins and Accel sometimes make it seem like cake.