The mistakes that killed my startup

Republished this post here:

64תגובות ל‘The mistakes that killed my startup

  1. Tal Gurevich אוגוסט 30, 2014 / 18:00

    Gil, this is awesome, thank you for sharing.
    "We had the false thinking that to do marketing we need a huge budget. It took us too much time to understand that we can do awesome things without spending a dime (other than the time of our engineers)." – can you provide a few examples?

  2. Sharel Omer אוגוסט 30, 2014 / 23:11

    Thank you for sharing! It takes a lot of guts… so many insights to learn from.. Thanks!

  3. Sharel Omer אוגוסט 30, 2014 / 23:12

    Thanks for sharing, it take a lot of guts. Lots of insights that we can all learn from. Thanks!

  4. Gil Blumenfeld אוגוסט 31, 2014 / 10:57

    Gil, Great post ,
    Its funny that If i would write a post like this, actually it will be same.
    * personal disclaimer – i made more mistakes than you did :)

    I think that both of us read lists and tips like yours from other entrepreneurs, but it seems that just after your learn the lesson and "pay" the price you really understand the meaning of it .
    Looking forward to see your next venture.
    Gil Blumenfeld

    • gilsadis אוגוסט 31, 2014 / 12:56

      No doubt, the best way to learn is by making mistakes.

      Thanks Gil!

  5. Rubinstein ספטמבר 1, 2014 / 13:04

    Hi Gil,

    Thanks for sharing. I'd like to absorb as much info as I can from your post, What I should do is convert some of the points into actual milestones calendar for my startup along with a checklist.If that is possible…..

    Is making mistakes necessary to the process?

    Do you consult young startups?

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 1, 2014 / 17:21

      I'll be happy to help if I can. Feel free to email me at gilsadis [at] gmail [dot] com.

  6. Madhu Bajpai ספטמבר 5, 2014 / 20:01

    Read this great article well in time. We are at initial stage of our product so its much more valuable to us!

    Thanks Gil! Appreciate sharing it!

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 5, 2014 / 21:05

      Thanks Madhu. Good luck with your venture!

  7. Tiago Sarlo (@tfsarlo) ספטמבר 5, 2014 / 20:40

    You were very precise in each point, and all these matters can be shared between startups around the world. Regardless of location, errors and experiences seem to repeat over and over again, that makes your article a valuable reading. I whish you a whole new set of mistakes and a path of great success and achievements.

  8. Ryan Kulp (@ryanckulp) ספטמבר 5, 2014 / 23:04

    First off, huge props for sharing this and humbling yourself. I enjoyed the read and took some notes.

    But from a high level, it seems like your fundamental mistake was not hiring a marketing person to push product, push features, push experiments, push niche messaging, etc.

    In general, a business guy would probably help prevent some of the mistakes you made as tech-first entrepreneurs.

    Good luck with your next endeavor!

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 12:52

      Thanks Ryan.
      I think that this is the job of the founders. At the beginning, they should be the business people, the developers, the product managers, sales and sweeping the floors. But yes, I agree, we should have hired a marketing person.

      • Bronius ספטמבר 18, 2014 / 09:28

        First of all, thanks for sharing Gil. To share mistakes always harder than share success. Great article and story!

        Regarding marketing person – at startup, the most important is motivation to boost the project. I doubt that at the beggining you can find a marketing person, who would have passion about your project. Plus, usually you can't really afford hiring him.
        Totally agree with you Gil, that at the beggining, the founder should be "everyone", because he has passion and believe in project. As soon as project start to roll out, then for sure, you should hire experts in their job.

      • gilsadis ספטמבר 18, 2014 / 10:39

        Well said Bronius, founders should do initial sales and marketing.

  9. Niraj Om ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 05:58

    Really enjoyed this article and learned so much. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Cosimo Ranieri ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 13:41

    Thanks for sharing Gil. I agree with any of your points, having miserably failed with my first startup :).
    A thing I would emphasise is the importance of A/B testing, release a feature and measure it, see how users react to it is very useful to build a good product. I'm now working on a new startup project and A/B testing is making the difference.

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 17:36

      I totally agree Cosimo. Good luck with your startup!

  11. Jean Friesewinkel ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 14:56

    Thanks for sharing, Gil — super valuable!

    > "We didn’t split the equity equally between the founders."

    Can you elaborate on this one? Why do you feel this was a mistake? What were the consequences?

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 6, 2014 / 22:42

      A lot of times I hear founders say "this was my idea and that's why I should get more equity than the other founders". Not splitting the equity equally between founders is short-seeing your startup. Usually, the idea you begin with has nothing to do with the idea you end/succeed with. And usually startups take years to get to success. Assuming you want all the founders all along the way, equally committed, you have to split equity equally. Otherwise, it will make people grumpy and will come back to hunt you.
      It happened in Licensario to some extent.

      • gilsadis ספטמבר 19, 2014 / 13:34

        It makes sense in a way and it really depends on the type of people the founders are. In my own experience, if equity is not splitted equally, in the long run, someone will get bitter. I guess there's no right or wrong with this one (or any of the mistakes I've done). Just reading the surface and acting accordingly for the good of the company.

  12. Laurent ספטמבר 7, 2014 / 05:10

    Thanks Gil for this really great post. You say you registered your company too early? At what time of the process did you register? and when do you think you should have registered? thanks. Laurent

    • gilsadis ספטמבר 7, 2014 / 21:36

      We registered our company before we even had an MVP. We were under the assumption that if we'll get incorporated, investors will look at us more seriously. Obviously, this was very naive. Early stage investors don't care if you're incorporated or not. They want to see a prototype/MVP and some traction. Of course that later on, if everything progresses in the right direction, you'll have to incorporate.

      • Laurent ספטמבר 8, 2014 / 14:35

        I have to confess I do not see so much the point. Registering just before having the MVP allows you to have a legal frame to hire or pay bills, receive payment from early users, which does not mean you cannot have a very lean approach and drastically control your costs. What is the down side? Important for me since i am about to register and just start working on the MVP…. Thanks.

      • gilsadis ספטמבר 8, 2014 / 23:35

        If you can hire people, then yes, register. I'm referring to a completely different stage. We incorporated when we were 2 guys, working in a regular job in the days and working on our product at nights. We weren't anywhere close to raising capital and hiring people. We personally paid the minimal bills we had to pay (you don't have to be incorporated in order to pay bills).

        The down side of incorporating too soon is that it brings overhead and you don't want any overhead that will deflect your focus from your product and customers. The argument I'm trying to make is don't incorporate until you really have to. Hiring is a great reason why you should incorporate. Telling investors/friends/family that you have a real company isn't. Make sure you're incorporating because you have no other choice.
        Does that make sense?

  13. Ekay ספטמבר 9, 2014 / 01:54

    Beautiful words of wisdom! I learnt a lot and the world can too from your honest advise. PLEASE outsource this content to an expert InfoGraphic maker and publish on SkillShare. The world needs to learn from this but also be ready for their OWN mistakes! Great advise. :)

  14. Cristobal alonso ספטמבר 12, 2014 / 21:20

    Great read and i am sure it was painful to write it at some point and think about all those times you could have done differently
    Having gone through bankruptcy once on a bob startup having had a series a round some of those mistakes sound very familiar others were different
    But still everyone that is , have or will be an entrepreneur should reflect reading this
    Thanks for taking the time

  15. Willson ספטמבר 15, 2014 / 04:30

    Thank you for sharing this Gil – really informative insights that can help others (including myself) think more carefully!

  16. David Borrows ספטמבר 21, 2014 / 07:37

    Gil, thank you so much for your article. It's hard to write abut what went wrong. I am sorry to add to your pain, but may I offer another thing that you did not refer to? I just followed the link to your website, and I have to say, I was left bewildered. It's full of jargon that only an engineer could love, and the features on offer in the various payment plans were, frankly, confusing.

    So what on earth is SAAS billing, and why do I need it? What about LTV, CAC, MRR, ARC? Why would I upgrade to the Advanced plan from the Basic, when the Basic plan offers Unlimited Deals and Projects, when the Advanced only offers 10 and 15 respectively?

    You may have known what you were talking about, but as a potential user with a small business who needed a billing service, I would have just walked away from this site after a few minutes of head scratching. Or maybe you were just trying to attract nuclear engineers? I can't tell.

    Anyway, just another point of view.



    • gilsadis ספטמבר 21, 2014 / 14:38

      Hi David, thanks for taking the time to write your comment. I must say I was left bewildered after reading your comment.

      First, Licensario has only one plan. You can check out our pricing page here: So it's pretty easy to understand what you get and how much it will cost you.

      Second, in Licensario we tried to target SaaS companies (and no other types of companies) and specifically developers inside these companies. Thus, our website is targeted towards developers in SaaS companies. If you didn't understand the jargon, and you're not working/owning a SaaS company, then we probably did something good :). For a long while our messaging was too broad (check our the mistake: "Our messaging was too broad") and we fixed it.

      • David Borrows ספטמבר 21, 2014 / 15:30

        Hi Gil,

        Thanks for the reply. I don't know what happened with the website and pricing info, I just clicked on the link in your initial posting, and there were three pricing plans there. Anyway, just to put my mind at rest, please, what is a SAAS company? (Obviously, I am not in that business, I just want the education and to satisfy my curiosity).



      • gilsadis ספטמבר 21, 2014 / 15:47

        There's nothing like Wikipedia for these kind of things: :). Eventually it's a software licensing model where the common pricing model is subscription and the software is centrally hosted (usually in the cloud).

  17. Dorcas דצמבר 22, 2014 / 01:20

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded thnis onto a coworker wwho had been doing a
    little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I
    discovered iit for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about thos topic hewre on your site.

  18. MK אפריל 10, 2015 / 13:29

    IMHO your only mistake was that you started the product which had no market. You can do everything perfectly after that, but without market you will fail.

    • gilsadis אפריל 11, 2015 / 23:11

      MK, thanks for commenting. I disagree. Our product had a huge market. The problem was we were too focused on product development instead of market development. We should have focused on a niche market, take over that niche and expand from there.

  19. David מרץ 8, 2016 / 14:53

    Completely agree with above startup mistakes.

    These are the most common startup mistakes which almost every startup founder is making. There are so many common startup mistakes but,

    1. Single Founder
    2. Launching too early
    3. Spending too much

    these 3 mistakes are very much common.

    If any startup has only a single founder then there would be more chances of getting failed because single person can't be able to handle all the things.

    Having multiple founders help in finding different different solutions when we have any problem because different brains think differently and generate different ideas.

    Some people lauch their startups too early even when if they aren't ready for it. So It is not good.

    And people also spend too much money after starting their startup in order to generate instant result which isn't good. They must have to keep themself calm and should work hard.

    I am glad that you have listed all the major mistakes here. So Thanks for sharing it. :D

    • gilsadis מרץ 9, 2016 / 06:09

      David, well said. I'm glad you find the post useful.

  20. Wayne מרץ 2, 2017 / 21:51

    Great points for any founder to think about. The common thread I hear with most failure stories is waiting for a perfect product. It's seems it's better to start small with a great product than either with a large complicated product or a product that died during production from lack of funds. Launch then invest in making core components easier to use and find a marketing theme and advertise consistently.

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