All of us have made silly bloopers. Crazy mistakes out of naivety & ignorance – the kind we can now laugh at now that we are older and wiser!!
Early on, we all are over enthusiastic and blind with passion. Sometimes we don’t have the patience to ask someone more experienced – or we just don’t know whom to ping!
I often ask rodinhooders to share one silly mistake they made while starting up. And the answers are so darn funny – yet they reveal an invaluable insight for each one of us!
So yeah, the idea is to laugh and learn at the same time…! Some Rodinhooders have already shared their goofs with me. Do read and do share at least one silly startup mistake you made – let’s make this the GOOFY PAGE on trh!!
[While sharing do use the hashtag #StartupGoofs :)) ]
Location cum Ops Goof!
“This was right before we started our delivery only restaurant, Paratha Post. We were looking for a place to start our manufacturing and delivery operations from a single location. As we were bootstrapping, cost was the major factor and the places which we checked out in our target area were a bit beyond our budget. It had been close to a month since we quit our jobs and we did not have a place to start our BILLION dollar business. WTH!
With annoyance at its peak, we chanced upon a site which perfectly suited our budget and square footage requirements. We immediately booked the place and built the kitchen and delivery unit infrastructure in a week.
A few weeks into operations, we realized what a stupid mistake we had made. The place was on the first floor of the building and to top it all, the stairs were those spiral ones, made with iron, giving a feel of an earthquake every time one used them. As a result, delivery boys were slow, were getting tired after a few trips and thus impacted the delivery times, our most important marketing plank (29 minutes or FREE). Getting any big, heavy kitchen equipment into the kitchen was another challenge, equivalent to an Olympic level weight lifting competition. When we look back, it appears to be one of the most stupid mistakes we made, proving how naive we had become, driven by our passion to “Just Get On With It”.
The lessons we learnt were:
1. Identify all your requirements properly. Budget consideration is important while making decision, but equally important is the operational hassles any decision would bring in.
2. You should be very considerate of your employees’ comfort. Their ease of doing their job would ultimately translate into their attitude towards you and your customers.
3. Once you identify a mistake, course correct immediately. We realized this mistake quickly, but still hung on as we thought the place was LUCKY for us. In the long run, the problems that we faced were too many to cover up for the LUCK factor. Remember, it’s business that brings success. Luck might be a supporting factor, not the most important one.”
Natwar Maheshwari, Founder at Around.io
“In the early days of Around.io, we never really paid attention to type of users we were getting. We are a social media productivity tool for online sellers, and we were letting anyone and everyone signup for the app. So, we were constantly getting feature requests and were buried in support requests, all from non-target customers/people. We realized our conversion from free to paid was pretty bad, that was pretty depressing, in fact a lot of people recommended that we should shut shop…after like 5 months or so, we pushed one update where we only let people with active online shops signup for the app..and since that day we look back and laugh at ourselves as how this should have been the first thing we should have thought of, but we didn’t. It all makes perfect sense in retrospect. Silly mistakes and their fixes have a thing about them, they always make a lot of sense in retrospect 🙂
I hope someone will learn from this and put a check in place where you make sure right kind of customers are coming in..wrong customers can kill your business in no time :)”
Perzen Patel, Chief Tasting Officer, Bawi Bride
“When we first started our daily meal service we didn’t test the plastic containers in which we send our food and thought it would be okay to send them in cake boxes like we used to. Thanks to this we had food spillages on epic levels
– bake dishes where the bake dish was out of the foil it had been baked in
– curry that had seeped into the custard
– some poor clients whose food box was empty as the entire curry had spilt into the cardboard box.
I guess our biggest mistake was trusting that delivery guys would take care of our boxes just like we do without realising that they simply don’t care in their rush to get food delivered on time. One year on, we now fill our boxes with water and take them on a road trip as well as in a train before we start using any of them for actual food delivery!”
Another Packaging Goof!
Saswata De, Co-founder, The First Meal
“We made, and continue to make, many mistakes. Off the top of my head – we initially got 750 ml boxes for serving 3 idlis (ideally, you would want to pack a full plate of biryani into them)…most of the boxes are still lying around with us!”
Sudeepta Sanyal, Co-Founder | Chief Curator, The Blueberry Trails
“As a travel company, we face smaller logistical goof ups at times. Like one example – we sent this group of 6 senior citizens to a trip to Kashmir, they all had an army background, and were very particular about things. They had told us they were non vegetarians but didn’t stress that they wanted Non-Veg meals all the time; and the Boutique Stay that we had put them up, was strictly vegetarian. They were quite upset, despite the Stay being gorgeous. So we got non veg food from outside the first day. The second day onwards they were so enamored by the Stay + the team on location + the food too, despite being vegetarian that they didn’t want outside food anymore, and they wrote rave reviews about us and the stay. All’s well that ends well! :)”
Product tie-up Goof
Puneet Aggarwal, Founder, Nirogam
“At Nirogam, earlier known as HerbsCanCure.com, we were selling Ayurvedic products. Our bestseller in 2007 was a Diabetes product and thinking that we could market any product to the same audience, we tried to spread ourselves too thin. We picked up a consignment of Dr Morepen’s Blood Glucose Monitor and tried to club it with our diabetes product. While we got a good purchase price, the product was not lapped up by our customers, because the device’s glucose strips were not easily available in the market. That consignment is still lying with us as dead stock. Today, when I come to think of it, I realise that we should stick to what we do best and apply 80-20 to everything that we do. Only 20% of things done well, would make us 80% of the money.”
“All the goof-ups that we could think of were generally the result of our over- excited reaction to any idea that we came up with. We still make those goof-ups though :).
When we launched Utpatang, our key product was metal signage which had many layers of processing. Like the sheets had to be bought, cut, buffed, sprayed with colors, screen printed, framed behind with hooks and pasted. As the first piece of metal was sprayed, we became so excited by the result that we got 400 such sheets sprayed in yellow. What we missed out on the fact was that we couldn’t stock the metal sheets by placing them one above the other which made them stick to each other due to the paint getting sticky after some time. As a result while most of the sheets were wasted, we had to stock the right ones separately and with extra care using butter papers – all which took most of our office space and time.
Though today, we have come out with an alternative solution to it which is working great for us, but those sheets are still with us – a reminder of the wastage and ignorance that we had at that time. Over procuring of raw materials, investing in an idea that involves too many layers of processing and a small team to handle it all, made the decision back fire in many ways other than just wastage of money. Today, we work on JIT (Just In Time) model and ensure that we don’t stock anything more than what is required at a given point of time!”
Credit Card Goof!
Akshay Chhugani, Head Product Marketing, ixigo
“I wanted to purchase indianbackpackers.com (with the S) as the preferred domain but sadly my credit card had some problems on the day I was trying to buy it.
Next day evening it was sold with the registration date of the day before to someone else 🙁 ……I had to wait almost 1 and a half year to buy it back when the owner failed/forgot to renew it at his end.
P.S. I was offered to buy it from the same owner for 1500$ the very next month of registration and as a startup that was my entire budget at that time.”
Lakshmi Ananthamurthy, Founder & CEO at SiyaWoman
“We had quite a few faux pas, but the funniest one was our tag lines. We kept revisiting and revising it almost every 2nd week, with each time being ‘this is it!’ We then got around to making our stationery, visiting cards and all our logos, videos with our logo on the top etc, etc with the new tag line. Finally, our website developer would groan when he saw us because it meant we had a new tag line and had to update all the messages linked to it.
This is when we found ‘mother’ is a bad word for our brand :).”
Do share your goofs in the comments section. The most interesting ones will be featured on the main post!
Stay Goofy 🙂