When you put your time, money and heart into building a company, and it crashes and burns, it can be devastating. For some, the thought of putting it all on the line and trying again is too much. Also, according to the latest statistics, 9 out of 10 startups fail. But, many would argue that success doesn’t happen without failure. If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry. Neither did these 3 hugely successful entrepreneurs who have had enormous failures.
Jeff Bezos – Amazon
There is hardly a person in the world that has not heard of Amazon. Valued at over $400 billion in September, Amazon’s CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos hit it out of the park. However, before Amazon, he struck out many times before finally hitting a home run.
Now, Bezos embraces failure as part of the Amazon culture and even likes to hire people that have had their own experiences with it. Even though he is one of the foremost businessman, he still fails, even with Amazon. Heard of the Fire Phone? The flop has cost them millions.
His outlook on failure was perfectly captured in a quote from Business Insider: “If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”
Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn
Reid Hoffman, the cofounder of the professional social network LinkedIn, has interesting advice on failure: “Fail fast”. SocialNet, his first startup did just that. It was a social network for finding friends or dates and was founded in 1997. Barely two years later, in 1999, it ended.
There are several reasons why Hoffman’s first startup was a failure. One of the reasons could be that the market wasn’t ready for it. When you recall that Myspace wasn’t founded until 2003 and Facebook until 2004, you can see how the network was ahead of its time. Hoffman has said that the failure was a valuable learning experience and the lessons he learned are what helped him succeed later in life.
Travis Kalanick – Uber
The ride-sharing platform, Uber has become a global success. But, close to 10 years before Uber was founded, CEO Travis Kalanick’s startup Scour was being sued for a whopping $250 billion. Scour Exchange, their peer-to-peer file-sharing service, influenced several media organizations to slap them with the lawsuit that cited copyright infringement. As a result, the company filed for bankruptcy.
Red Swoosh, his next file-sharing venture, also had some trouble when the IRS hit it with a fine over $100K. Still the company was less of a failure than his last one, since it was acquired for $19 million by Akamai Technologies in 2007. Plus, Kalanick bounced back from his failures in a big way. Uber is used in over 60 countries and 400 cities and was recently valued at $68 billion.
Although 90 percent of startups fail, how many of those founders go on to start amazing and successful companies? If these entrepreneurs are any indication, success isn’t achieved without a little failure along the way. So, don’t let the statistics discourage you from building your own. There is no perfect recipe for success. Often it requires experimentation and experiments fail. Learn from it. Mitigate risks. Move on, and try again.