How I Blew $750K

How I Blew $750K

A Story for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Firstly… 

Fuck Donald Trump. 

But not for the reasons you’re thinking.

I’m talking about Trump “The Business Advisor.” 

In 2007 he wrote Think Big. 

I chose to take his advice, Think Big and Go For It! 

I boarded the Great Ship of Adventure and set sail to discover untold riches powered by 7-years of success in eGaming.

Oops. 

 

You see I had this idea in my head that if I built the absolute best site on the planet in Step 1, it will win the battle, the heavens will open and we’ll all drink beer together. 

I had such belief that I could not be swayed. 

I sailed through and endured all the Startup storms too… 

  • 3 Rounds of VC
  • 3 Year App Development
  • UK Market Entry
  • Daily Operations
  • Presentations etc

By the time the dust settled, dev had eaten up three times the budget, third party extensions were expensive and operating costs escalated. 

Not to mention this was the UK gaming market where a Google Ads click can cost you £50!

 

The project evolved so much and we were making big leaps of faith on macro data, when we should have been focusing on lean strategy and building a deep brand experience.

And for the record…

Fuck the excuse of “we ran out of money and that’s why we failed”. 

Bullshit. 

We failed because we ran out of money. 

There’s a difference!

 

If I built the business one brick at a time using Lean Strategy, I’d be sipping cold beers on an island with my feet in the water now.

(Worst case I’d have 5X more time) 

But that’s not what happened…

 

I spent nearly every penny I raised building the dream in one sitting, and that’s a terrible way to build a business!

Entrepreneurs are full of passion and drive but can be bull-headed and stubborn. 

Single-mindedness is great but you must be aware of business strategy.

 

I learned the hard way.

Hello wall, I’ll run into you as fast as possible. 

Thank you. 

 

There’s a reason 9 out of 10 Silicone Valley StartUps fail. 

Startups are tough.

 

It was only when I read Peter Thiel’s Zero to One in combination with my “fanboy obsession” with Elon Musk, that the penny dropped…

 

Lean Strategy + First Principles = Best Results

 

I was always aware that every great business I chose to think about – Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Apple etc – started in a basement or garage. 

It just never occurred to me how important that process is, yet so simple…

Micro-sprint Data is the most reliable. 

 

It turns out that lean strategy is not only the most cost-effective way to build a business, it is the most effective way too. 

And there in lies the truth, that we all have the potential to build a great business. 

It does not take vast amounts of money. 

It takes strategy, effort, patience and discipline. 

 

5 Lessons I’ve Learned..

 

Lesson 1 – Lean Strategy 

Don’t try build your end version in round one. 

Take a minimal step-by-step approach. 

Ask yourself this question, “What would this look like if it were simple?”

Try build in very small steps. 

For example:

You have an idea for a startup. 

Don’t build a website and spend a bunch on money on marketing to see if it works, do this…

  1. Build a one page concept.
  2. Advertise on Social Media
  3. Get market feedback. (data)

Turnaround: 1 Week

Investment: Under $200

Using lean strategy gets actionable data fast and cheap.

Win win.

 

Lesson 2 – Opportunity is Equal

Don’t use the excuse of “I have no money” or “It takes money to make money.”

That’s bullshit. It takes strategy, effort and discipline. 

If the majority of big companies started humbly, what makes you different?

Try the approach of building something to satisfy 5 people first, then move on.

You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Dry your eyes, nobody cares.

 

Lesson 3  – Set Goals

Set and execute goals daily to build momentum. 

Write your goals down. 

Ask yourself honestly what you accomplished at the end of the day. 

Set challenging goals to stimulate your brain.

 

Lesson 4 – Sell By Experience

The best way to sell a product or service is by selling the experience.

Show a video, use testimonials, provide real-life data.

Don’t try to sell first, build trust first, then sell.

The @garyvee “Jab-Jab-Hook” approach.  

 

Lesson 5 – Tell Stories

Great brands tell stories.

The easiest stories to tell are the ones you have experienced.

 

Conclusion

So what happened to the Startup I tried to kill?

I started fresh in lean strategy mode. 

Expenses are fractional, progress is stable, and the boat is working towards becoming a ship. 

 

Taking such a massive financial loss not the harsh lesson however. 

It is the people and partners I disappointed on my journey. 

I know they came in with eyes wide open and knew the risks, but I’ll always feel responsible and continue work to achieve success.

Losing is a lesson and if you don’t fail at some point you’re not trying hard enough. 

Just be sure to learn and not make the same mistakes over and over – that’s insanity my friend 🙂 

 

If you need help or advice with a Startup, drop me a message, I’ve been through a war or two, chances are I can provide value. 

If you have tips you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Wishing you success.

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