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8 lessons from a startup post-mortem (brought to you by my unsuccessful angel investment)
No one likes to lose money, except for the startup investors, who statistically speaking do it significantly more often than they earn
Recently, the first startup I invested in as an angel, announced a wind-up of its operations. It was Jiffsy.co—the mobile-first frontend for Shopify stores.
It's definitely frustrating, but surprisingly, I took it calmer than I would expect. The guys did their best until the very end. Even during the war, staying in Ukraine, they kept grinding and even managed to receive a grant from Google. I even helped them at one point with AI features since it was similar to what we had developed at Suggestr.
On the other hand, I've never lost such a large amount of money before. Even with stocks, if you don't invest in complete garbage, the price may drop, but it won't go to zero. But here, $5000 just vanished into thin air.
Well, those are the rules of the venture game.
For me, investing rn is not just about money—it's about the experience. So don’t take lightly the following lessons from the Jiffsy story, these are very expensive and hard-earned learnings:
According to Vitalii, CEO:
Initial sales aren't about growth—they are about validation. Don't mix it up. We made our first sales with a shitty product, and we shouldn't rush to scale, we should’ve focused on the product.
You need to have a personal runaway of 9-12 months before you dive into the startup. We had the money for 6 months, and it wasn't enough. Because of that, we made suboptimal decisions raising the first round.
Don't do anything for free. You should get money OR a case study. You shouldn't expect you get a case study if you didn't agree on it with a customer in advance.
Don't focus on growth until you get a validated sellable product. Focus on testing your hypothesis and validate the value for the customer.
Design tests properly and define the success and failure conditions and your next steps accordingly.
Founders should dedicate at least 20% of their time to strategy, product roadmap, and vision. Right after we started selling CEO was all in sales and operations, CTO was all in delivering, and no one has thought about the strategy.
Managers should manage. We (the CEO & CTO) spent lots of time on tasks we had to delegate.
One good acquisition channel is enough in the beginning. You don't need ten of them—scale what’s working.
Remember it as they have died so we can leave another day.
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