Hey! We're Sylvain and Patrick, cofounders of Vuzers.
This is the story on how our first startup failed, how we both lost all of our savings (about $25,000 for me and $30,000 for Patrick), our health, our family lives as I almost got divorced — all in the span of about 24 months — and what we learnt from it.
Here's some background:
We started our first company, Patrick as the CTO and me, Sylvain, as the business guy.
This happened when I was 34 years old, 4 years ago.
We didn't have a business experience beforehand.
Okay, here are some of our biggest mistakes and what we learnt from them:
1) Getting Started
As totally newbies in the startup world, we spent around three weeks choosing on a name/domain, filling intellectual properties papers, then getting a logo designed, forming an incorporated company when we just got our idea. All of this was done before we had a clear idea of what we wanted to create or even before we were sure someone really wanted it.
Time and money were wasted here. In most circumstances, for a MVP, the name and logo will be irrelevant. You always can change it after. But for sure, before you choose a business name, a domain, a logo, or legally open a business (all of the things that most people get caught up in), think about validating your idea with real customers first.
2) Solve a real problem
Too many entrepreneurs invent a problem to solve. But if you do, you will fail for sure.
Good products solve real problems that have an impact on real people.
Our first startup was all about "Augmented Reality". Do you remember this trend? It was all over the Internet: Apple, Snapchat, Google, Facebook. Everyone was talking about AR and VR. But 5 years later, no one talks about it anymore.
So ask yourself: “What problem does my startup or idea solve, and how painful is that problem?” Think seriously about this question, because the answer may save you hours, days, weeks, months, or years of your life.
3) Listen and talk to your customers
Not talking and listening to our customers early on was one of our biggest mistake.
We just kept building a product nobody wanted.
In fact, when you're just starting out as an entrepreneur, a lot of your early success will hinge on your ability to listen and engage effectively with your customers. This will help you gather feedback and know your audience better in order to build a better product.
Lack of such feedback may leave your startup with a product that doesn't fit your customer needs.
So make sure you engage with your customers in a regular basis, analyze their feedback and suggestions and update your product to build a product they love.
We've been talking for almost 2 years with Patrick thinking of our next startup. Writing down all kind of ideas and then it became an evidence.
Why not scratching our own itch?
What if we build a tool that will allow us to understand our customer needs? Listen and talk to them?
So we started to work hard, very hard. And few weeks later, Vuzers was born!
Vuzers is a simple tool that allows you to get personal with your customers through video.