When a start-up fails

Usually when a start-up goes under, the story of the successes and failures along the way dies with the company. By that point, the founders are exhausted by the experience, mentally and physically burned out. Too beat up to write about everything that went wrong.

But this time, we got lucky.

Post mortemRoger Ehrenberg, co-founder of Monitor110, has written this excellent Post Mortem about everything that went wrong with the founding of the company. He boils it all down to “Seven deadly sins.” If you are an entrepreneur, read this article. It will help you avoid some mistakes that can be incredibly costly.

For me, I’m trying to take to heart point #5 – specifically, I need to launch my product as quickly as possible to get input and feedback from my potential customers. Otherwise, I’m developing in a vacuum.

I worked with two other companies in the past that used this post mortem approach regularly. At Let’s Go, where the staff turned over every year (only Harvard students are allowed to work at the company, and usually the managers are seniors), part of our salary was contingent on writing up a report at the end of the summer, after the books shipped to the printers, to tell the people who would have our jobs the following year what we did and why. These reports were my training manual for the job, and were incredibly valuable. At Network World, one editor would be responsible to review every issue of the magazine that came out – they would mark it up with comments and input, and would pass around the issue to every person on staff. Those reviews were always a bit painful (seeing the mistakes that we made – in print – wasn’t a whole lot of fun) but they made us better.

Good luck Roger! And thank you.

Photo by CristinaJucan

Related Posts