RealWorld: Great Idea, Team Issues

Hi! I want to share with you a failure story. As many others, it could have been a success story but destiny (together with some unlucky decisions) move it to the dark side of the balance. I’m not ashamed at all and much less regretful of having tried.

In 2009, me and some friends were at a wedding (that is not only the perfect place to find your wife but also the co-founders of your company). After some drinks we decided to create a company. Of course! That’s very easy! Since we all had an IT background, we had to create an IT company, even if we have not a proper opportunity in mind yet. That night everything sounded amazing. On Monday, after the corresponding hungover, we had 2 drop outs and our full-of-super-powers team reduced from 7 to 5 awesome IT guys.

Since we were working in a big city, we defined a structure of work based on a weekly team meeting complemented with the usage of different very trendy online project management tools. We all were working on consulting companies and there was a clear correlation between our “comfortable” salary and our “uncomfortable” lack of time.

After a few months of full energy brainstormings and plenty of discussions, we finally came up with our first IDEA. It was great, a really cool idea, getting ahead of the times, galactic vision… We are talking about what it could have been one of the pioneer apps of Augmented Reality for Tourism (Yes!! In 2009!!). We had the vision, we had the knowledge about technology and we even had a business model by allowing hotels, restaurants and bars to create ads to be showed at a concrete POI (Point Of Interest) while tourists were amazed seeing how Colosseo in Rome looked like 2000 years ago. However, even if we were a bunch of people with high qualified technical skills, we lacked of business perspective. In addition, this lack of complementarity was highly supported by a lack of leadership. We had decided that all of us must have the same voting power for any level of decisions. It meaned that regardless the matter of the topic (let’s say deciding which programming language to use or if the logo should be blue or green), all of us had to vote as a general assembly. On top of that, any of us had the determination of quitting our “comfortable” jobs in order to accept the challenge and face the venture full time.

We dedicated more than one year and half of our life to this project (in a rollercoaster of commitment and results). We even managed to create a pilot. But we never went able to take off.

Far from being sad, today (because I can not say the same about some years ago) I consider it as a lesson. On my later projects I tried to put in practice what I learned from this one: look for complementary co-founders, take the lead (or following) and more important than any other point: be determined.

I still believe that this project could have still some potential and after some twists it could be transformed in a successful business (even almost 8 years later). However, the train passes only one time… or who knows how many times.

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