Lessons from a DeadPool Startup – (Devver Shutting Shop)

Mistakes always teach you lessons and it is even better if you can learn from other’s mistakes. Devver, a startup with testing and metrics tools for Ruby applications, is shutting down and the founder has shared some candid lessons from his attempt.

1. Ecosystem: The ecosystem is always ready to help you but you need to learn how to ask for help. (Being a Social Entrepreneur). Early involvement with target group is important. Also, if you can get a mentor early on board, nothing like it.

If you are working on a startup, don’t be afraid to ask for help! The vast majority of people want to help you succeed, provided that you respect them and their time. That means you need to prepare adequately (do your research and ask good questions), figure out their preferred methods of communication (e.g. don’t call if they prefer email), show up on time, don’t overburden them, and thank them. And when other people need your help, give back!

2. Founding Team: Having a co-founder with same skillset as you do may not be of much benefit. You should always look for someone who can compliment your abilities so that the whole circle of building a business can be taken care with the same passion.

3. Product: You need to find the minimum viable product (MVP) and deliver it as fast as you can. This gives you a chance to get involved with the customers and understand what they really need and what they would really be willing to pay for.There is a strong chance that your MVP is not really the minimum.

We released our first version to some moderate success and then proceeded to continue to churn out features without really understanding customer needs.

You need to show the customer a basic product before asking what they need. And don’t rely on “a feedback” or “the feedback”, analyse every need from business point of view before making it just another feature in your product.

mistake

Cheers to the Devver team for trying!

Read the complete experience on Devver’s blog.

Recommended read:

pic credit

[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

Social Media Community Pulse Service, BrandAdda to shut down

BrandAdda, a destination site to track community pulse has decided to shutdown, citing lack of success on the business front.

Founder, Tej Arora shares some of the insights/challenges they faced while running the company.

‘There were many challenges we faced in building the business, and a few we faced building the product.

  • Working without a founding partner was extremely hard.
  • Hiring quality talent was super tough.
    By and large, we found people to be risk-averse, and putting more  emphasis on cash compensation than on equity
  • Brands have not yet appreciated social media, specially in India. It was a hard sell. It was hard enough explaining the concept to them, forget selling a service. They need to first warm up to it, and then organize themselves appropriately to take advantage of it. That will take longer than we had hoped for.
  • The budget for internet marketing is a tiny fraction of the overall marketing budget.
  • BrandAdda wasn’t giving consumers something compelling or solving a pain point, so consumer adoption was poor. We were counting on Brands to be able to offer something of value to consumers, but with no traction from Brands, this never materialized
  • There was no one from the Marketing industry in the team. We were outsiders to the industry, trying to reach Brands through a well-established layer of Agencies around them. That was hard. The soft business climate made matters worse. – blog

I have known Tej Arora for quite sometime and one thing he and I have always shared is the challenge of not having a cofounder in running a venture.

Sometimes, you need validation of idea/hypothesis, a healthy argument around the venture (as well as product features), somebody to question things, to brainstorm ideas and being the solepreneur just takes you into ‘Let me try this’ loop [Read this: Successful startup needs 2.09 founders to make it big!].

Must Read: What exactly makes Entrepreneurship so hard

Digital Out of Home Company vJive Networks shuts shop(?)

Digital OOH company vJive, which was started in 2004 has shut shop, as mentioned by a reliable source (though company declined this news).

vjive network
vjive network

The company raised close to $5mn from Matrix Partners (in 2006) and tied up with retail outlets (like Subhiksha) as well as BFSI outlets for expansion.

Vjive Networks created a paradigm shift in the Out of Home (OOH) signage by replacing static signage with dynamic audio visual media across the nation; and had roped in advertisers like Ariel/Dove/Lux/AXE etc.

Vjive technologies include VJIVE Engine, an Internet based broadband media streaming engine that was used as a carrier to transport ads in real-time to digital screens.

While we don’t yet know the real reason, a few earlier rumors mentioned the tiff between the team and investors that caused the company to shut operations.

Will be updated with details, as we get them.

Update: VJIVE declined this article and mentioned that they aren’t shutting down operations.

We will update with more details later.

TechTribe (Deadpooled) founder to launch TenMarks? [Grapevine]

Mr. Grapevine tells us that Techtribe founder, Rohit is working on a new startup – TenMarks

A look at whois gives some information: Registrant:   Rohit Agarwal,   117 Mallorca Way, San Francisco, California 94123, United States.

More than the information from whois, what we really know (since the last 3.5 months) is that the Techtribe was under serious pressure to perform – and Canaan might write off the investment (as some of you already pointed out) or sell it off.

What about Techtribe?

Joins our shortcircuit pool. Well, check out the alexa traffic:
Why do you think the Techtribe’s online recruitment model failed? Was it too BD (i.e. business development) heavy? Or due to lack of any significant user engagement? Well, they raised $2mn in 2007 (from Canaan Partners) and as far as I remember, they did spend a good amount of money on adwords.

So, do you need real techies to drive such system? What’s your take?

The new venture, Tenmarks, it seems is an inspiration from doostang? Too early to say.

Update: Seems that media (and other bloggers) have started writing about Techtribe’s deadpooled state now. To keep things in perspective, the decision to cloes Techtribe was taken around August 2008. We have been aware of this, but decided to let things unfold by itself.

OrderMonger shuts the service

Hyderabad based OrderMonger (read our earlier review), has decided to shutdown their service.

“We regret to inform you that OrderMonger.com will cease all operations from Oct 1, 2008. This decision has been taken predominantly due to non-viability of the business while maintaining the high Service Standards we intended to provide. However, we will honour all (more…)

Chittr joins the shortcircuit pool?

Microblogging portal, Chittr (supposed to be India’s twitter) joins the shortcircuit pool (the site navigates to comics.com now)

This is what I wrote in my earlier review:

chittr needs to clearly define their offering/positioning and stick to it for another few months (and then move on to other areas). Also, they need not copy the twitter lingo…

Unless the site is hacked (by comics.com guys? very unlikely!), I am quite surprised by such behavior – I mean, why redirect? Can’t they simply say they have shutdown and close the site?

Even though these portals (please notice: I am not calling these startups) are a result of “I-can-do-it-too” mentality, it’s really important for founders to declare their shutdown status (and then shutdown).

The bigger question is how will you trust them with your data, say if they launch another portal tomorrow ?

I won’t.

[Thanks Vishal for the tip]