A Failed Start-up Helps a Founder with His Second Start-up

I listened today to a founder explain his approach to building his second company. His first company failed because he couldn’t get any paying customers. His big takeaway was that what he built wasn’t what customers wanted. He had a hypothesis and built a solution based on it, not realizing that his hypothesis was just that, a hypothesis that needed to be proven correct or incorrect. He was trying to sell his solution, not find out whether his hypothesis was correct. After reflecting on his journey, he realized that the company failed because he wasn’t listening to what customers were telling him, which was that his hypothesis was incorrect.

This time he’s taking a different approach. He has a hypothesis, but he has recognized from day one that it may be wrong. Right or wrong, he’s focused on learning the why behind what people say. He built an MVP based on his hypothesis and has been getting feedback from customers. The feedback told him he was wrong in his initial thinking and helped him understand his customers’ pain better. He built the second version of his solution, which is resonating with customers because it solves a real pain point.

It took this founder a few years and a failed start-up to learn a valuable lesson. In the early days, focus on proving your hypothesis right or wrong. Have mental flexibility so you can see things from the customer’s perspective and be ready to go where customer feedback takes you. He learned this lesson the hard way but is now succeeding in his second act.