The (in)famous post-mortem post
I recently had to return my pass to SMU BIG, my incubator for Leggo because I’ve stopped working on it. Although it’s been over a month since I decided to quit Leggo, I can’t help but feel sentimental about giving away the last attachment I had to Leggo.
They asked me why did we fail and what had we learnt. I gave him a quick few one liners, but I guess the one full year of battle deserves more justice, so here goes the the famous post-mortem-why-did-we-fail-what-have-we-learnt post.
- Not listening to customers. As much as a lean startup advocate I am, in the middle of the journey I was still caught in the assume-customer-will-like-it-by-adding-this-cool-feature disease. We got too paranoid with what our competitors do and added their features to ours assuming users will love it. Well, obviously we ended up with a jumbled up product that customers don’t get. We only found that out after a too-late validation. So point is, talk to your customers at every step of your way.
- Taking the green light too easily. This is a radical disease all optimistic founders have. In one of our almost failing consultation with Virginia, our entrepreneur in residence, she asked “I don’t get why people don’t want to use it while your interviews revealed that they do?”. I came up with the “oh the real world is different” excuse but deep down I knew that my mistake from the very beginning was shaping the truth to my own favour. I over-highlighted their slightest agreement with our idea and ignored most of their negative cues. Had I been brutally honest with myself, I could have failed way earlier back in Feb when people were not responding well to our first version. Instead, we made our own case on why users are not using it and took another 7 months of iteration to build a product that people don’t need.
- Going after vanity metrics. If people don’t look at our real data, people will assume that Leggo is doing great. That’s because of all the publicity I got circulating on social media. Press coverage, funding, competition, these are all the cosmetics adorning us from the outside, but inside, we’re bleeding. Going after these shallow validation distracted us from doing what that truly maters and fooled us into thinking that things are okay.
- Not building something people need. At the end, everything boils down to this. As mentioned in All In Startup, we’re not solving a migraine problem. People get headache about scheduling meet-up once in a while but they can live with it. The pain is not strong enough for people to switch from the traditional way. What’s worse, we’re easily comparable with the rest of the competitors out there. Our product was not bad, but it’s just okay. And being okay does not cut it in this cut-throat startup world. We need to be different, we need to be memorable, and most importantly, we need to be 10x better than the existing solution; we need to go from zero to one.
With that, I can finally close this chapter in peace. I’m excited to embark on my new adventure with Prabot and apply all the things I’ve learnt. You will not go to waste, my dear Leggo. So long for now.
Originally posted at Nakedpreneur.