Learn to fail!

Learn to fail!

This is our first blog post on our voyage as a start-up. It has certainly been interesting thus far and we could already spend quite a few hours counting tales on our successes and mostly our failures. What has really surprised us the most is that we are actually very proud of our failures. Ok, admittedly, some of them we are definitely not happy about, or we even feel a bit ashamed that we got so far without noticing them, but overall, the process of learning by experience has been very rewarding and this is why I want to share this with you today.

It will sound stereotypical, but when people say that ‘failure is good’, they are not incentivising failure. Plan to succeed, not to fail! The reason is very simple, you must try your hardest at accomplishing a task otherwise you will not learn anything from it, nor feel a sense of accomplishment. When a task, concept or product fail, two things may happen. Either the product was ‘perfect’ but the team missed something important (like understanding the real ‘hidden’ desire of the customer), or because the task was completed hastily and the product was released too early for example. Failing because of a lack of effort put into the task does not feel good. You will feel like you wasted time for no reason because you will not learn as much as you could have if you had pushed yourself a bit harder. It is therefore crucial to always plan for a successful objective in order to gain any learning and positive outcome.

How do you learn from the failure? That’s where the Lean start-up methodology, as developed 6-7 years ago by Eric Ries, comes in handy. Failing allows you to learn something about yourself, your product and most importantly the customer. And what you have learnt is what will drive you to bounce back as soon as possible to try again. There is no need to take things personally. This is work and figuring out what the customers want, how to develop the best product or service will take time and IT IS HARD!

I will share an example from our experience at Ononga. We strongly believed that students would be a great first customer segment. They are young, willing to try new things, socialise and meet new people, and often, they are in unfamiliar locations themselves. Even our market research and customer surveys strongly agreed. Our angle was to create an events-based platform focused more around individuals (unlike our competition). But reality struck hard… when we started advertising the site to the students, they were initially curious and interested, but after being shown the product, they would decide to stick with their current media (facebook, meetup,...). The reason was simple: on Facebook and meetup, they could quickly organise things between friends or society members, and have some control over the privacy. This was a big shock. Firstly, we understood from their feedback that they did not understand what Ononga was trying to do (help people meet new people or organise things beyond the regular circles of friends), secondly, even if the students were new and shy, using a site to help build confidence and find like-minded people seemed too much asking! Finally, what differentiated Ononga from the competition at the time was the fact that we focused on the individuals… yet that was definitely not what our customers wanted. This is how we ended up creating communities, which we are actually very proud of and has had very positive feedback!


About the author

Jeremy is the co-founder of Ononga. His passions and wide interests motivated him to create the platform to share them with the world! He loves climbing, playing music, baking, board games, video games, movies and shows, hiking,... Don't hesitate to get in touch with him via the site!