A Perspective on Lifeblob-Printo Deal [Distress Sale vs. A Product Story?]

Printo acquired Lifeblob and here are certain perspective on the same. First, a quick recap:

– Lifeblob.com will cease to exist once the deal is done. That is, the main service Lifeblob was known for (photo sharing/discovery via photos) will be dead.

– Lifeblob.com/Store, the custom gifting service will be redirected to Printo’s website, i.e. Printo.in.

– The thing common between Lifeblob and Printo is the investor, i.e. Seedfund which probably got the entire deal done.

As one of our readers pointed out (Anubhav Tripathi)

If you carefully observe the way this deal was closed, it’s not an acquisition but gracefully kicking the poor team out and asking a performing team (printo) to takeover the assets.

Obviously, seedfund was pissed off with lifeblob, they even tried to change the business model to recover some money but it was too late. It’s evident from the announcement that they are even closing down the photo sharing, so naturally this acquisition does not make sense except for the good human resources lifeblob has. Printo could save some money hiring those guys from open market.

Agree/Disagree, but the reality (like I mentioned in the earlier article) is that the deal isn’t so sweet deal that will get founders to buy a Merc. But here is the part that I’d like a lot of early stage technology entrepreneurs to know about – i.e. of product validation in your first venture.

In all probability, one’s first venture might just not take off (we are talking about Indian product startups here) and even though it takes off, one will have to go through multiple iterations before you actually find your mojo, the killer USP.

“Startups that succeed are those that manage to iterate enough times before running out of resources” -Eric Ries

As a product startup, one’s success probability isn’t so high (in India), but what we all need to do is to keep iterating (fail fast) and be ready for the unwanted outcome, i.e. failure. As far as Lifeblob is concerned, I believe they had a great deal of learning – right from their first idea (of targeting US market for story telling thru’ photos) to launching a personalized gifting store in India – i.e. a case of completely disconnected used knowledge to selling to a much more focused audience.

Failure is a probable outcome (read: Why you should not be an Entrepreneur [And why I am still an Entrepreneur!] and an RoI one should expect from their first venture is a great amount of learning and experience – of course, by putting all of sweat and blood in the venture (and not just on relying on VC money). These learnings and experiences will build the next generation of India’s Product companies – but the journey to this is via focused iteration and experiments (hint: Product Management discipline).

Labeling it a success/failure may not be so right as we need 100 more such deals in India (small-sized acquisitions), as we prepare for the big ‘Made in India’ product story.

What’s your take on Lifeblob/Printo acquisition deal?