Hi! Tell me about you and your business.
Hey! My name is Rich Clominson and I am the co-founder of Failory.
Failory is a community where failed startup owners come to tell their failure stories and the mistakes they committed, so that future entrepreneurs can learn from them and not make the same errors. Quite similar to Starter Story, but instead of success stories, we talk about the failed ones.
Until now, we haven’t made any money from Failory. But we are looking to do it in a near future. Our plans to monetize our project is with sponsorships and affiliate marketing on our email newsletter. But before starting doing this, we are trying to increase the community, launch new interviews and get more email subscribers.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I studied Marketing in Argentina and over the years I decided to focus on Digital Marketing. That’s exactly what I do on Failory. My two co-founders have different tasks: one is specialized in web development, and the other in design.
Apart from Failory, I work at a marketing agency. My co-founders also have full-time jobs, which is slowing us down a little bit.
The story behind the creation of Failory is completely ironic:
With my 2 co-founders, we have attempted to build many side-projects with little or no success. Tired of failing over and over again, we had the idea of teaching other people how to succeed with their startups through interviews with failed entrepreneurs. Some might say that we are not the right people to help entrepreneurs, but I think the opposite. In fact, I think we were the chosen ones, as we are specialists of failure.
When our last startup failed, we started kicking around the idea of creating a website that would collect stories of failed startups reflecting about the mistakes they committed. After a competition analysis, we discovered that there was a couple of websites that talked about failed startups, but none who interviewed the owners of those startups. So, inspired by Indie Hackers, we decided we could do this.
Failory was born.
Describe the process of building the initial version of Failory.
On July 15th, 2017, we started building Failory. 13 days later our new startup was topping Product Hunt and was positioned on Hacker News’ front page.
The process of building Failory started with the analysis of competition and validation of the idea. I have to confess we didn’t analyze the idea too deeply. We just decided to start it as a thesis and try it out. We started quickly and didn't really look back.
We moved into the naming process and business plan election. After a big brainstorming of possible names, we chose Failory. It surged from the combination of “failure” and “story”. The business plan was simple but we had many doubts about the monetizing strategy. After analyzing our competition, we found that the best way to earn money from Failory was with advertisements and sponsorships.
After a few days, we began designing and developing Failory. The design was pretty basic. Again, inspired by Indie Hackers, we made a website design similar to it. It only took us a few hours, and we rapidly moved into the development part. We built the product with Webflow, a tool I totally recommend. Instead of spending lots of hours writing code, Webflow allowed us to create it visually with some easy-to-use tools. This part took us only a few days.
But, how did we get the interviews?
Collecting the interviews was the hardest part. To get the first ones, we sent some cold-emails to people who have published online articles talking about their failed startup, and some emails to entrepreneurs, asking if they had any failed startups in their past. After much emailing back and forth, we found nine people who committed to interviewing with us. Some of our cold email responses were really enthusiastic to talk about their failed startup, but others didn’t trust us, as the website wasn’t published yet. Furthermore, the quality of the first interviews wasn’t so high as the ones we are publishing now.
Finally, while we waited to our interviewees to complete the questions, we began writing the blog articles, in which we tried to help people who are starting with their startups.
A thing that I would do if I had the chance of starting Failory again is to create hype about our project. We launched it too quickly, with almost no feedback or supporters.
How have you grown Failory?
The launch of Failory included:
- Product Hunt: A few days before launching Failory, we asked the #1 Hunter on Product Hunt, Kevin William David, to publish our website to PH. This was a winning strike. His popularity on PH helped us a lot, he got us to be the #1 product of the day. But, we committed a big mistake. We published it on Sunday, a low-traffic day for Product Hunt. We didn’t receive the traffic we really wanted, but still a big win. Lesson learned: Never launch your product on weekends.
- Hacker News: Becoming trending on Hacker News is really difficult. Publishing your new startup on Hacker News is a must do, but we weren’t expecting to get many upvotes there. However, for some strange reason, HN readers loved Failory and our link was upvoted 108 times. I can't remember for sure, but I think we achieved the first position on the front page!
- Designer News: We knew that many of the people who could be interested in Failory were designers. Therefore, we published our website on Designer News. 0 upvotes. Zero! Apparently, designers don't care much about Failory.
- Social Media: There is not much to explain. Just the common social media promotion: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. We committed a big mistake when developing our website: We didn’t add social sharing buttons on our interview pages. This was a fatal mistake. Lesson learned: Always add share buttons. Make them as simple as possible. Recommended tool: Add This.
- Emails: We advised the people we had interviewed that Failory was now published. Many of them helped us with an upvote, a share and some links on their websites.
This was the Google Analytics for the first 3 days of Failory:
Also, 509 people subscribed to our newsletter, which was a lot. It was the 7.65% of the users who visited Failory.
After launching Failory we received a lot of feedback on the things we should change, ideas for the future, recommendations, kind words, and many emails from people asking to be interviewed. In fact, it was too much feedback, that we are still reading it and improving Failory based on their words.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently?
There are a few things that I (and probably my partners too) would do completely different:
- Launch later: I would spend more time validating the idea, getting more feedback, and building an audience. But as I have told you, we didn’t think too much about the project, as we didn’t want to spend too much time on it and then give up.
- Launch during the week: The biggest mistake was probably launching on Product Hunt Sunday. On weekends people prefer to spend the time with their family, rather than reading failed startup interviews.
- Change the design: I would probably design the website more different to IH. I would have also collocate the newsletter sign-up form at the top of the website (as it is right now).
- Get more interviews: And not only more, but also higher quality interviews. I would include more pictures and graphs inside them.
- Post-Launching Marketing: I would write some articles after launching Failory, talking about our launch experience.
Where you are at now / What are your plans for the future?
In the last few weeks, Failory has grown amazingly. Lots of new emails subscribers, many new interviews published, even an invitation to an event! As I have said, we are trying to grow the community and increase the number of email subscribers, so that we can start monetizing the project. So we are mainly focused on this.
To increase the number of subscribers we are starting to write more articles. We are about to start to offer free eBooks in exchange for emails. Another strategy we are using is cross-promotion of newsletters. We promote a newsletter on our emails, and in exchange, we get a promotion on the other newsletter.
We are also kicking around the idea of starting a podcast. This idea was proposed by the audience and we know it could be successful.
And finally, an almost impossible long-term goal is to raise money. We have built and managed Failory spending only a few dollars, which is one of the reasons we aren’t growing too fast.
Advice for other starters out there?
My biggest recommendation for entrepreneurs who are just starting is to learn from their mistakes! Yes, it can sound cliche - but the only way to achieve success with your startup is by learning from the errors you commit.
Another recommendation: validate your idea. Please, listen to me. Create an MVP (minimum viable product) and start building an audience before launching your startup. If you see that there is no positive feedback, try something else. If you are able to create hype on your product and attract people with your landing page and MVP, success will come.
Finally, listen to your customers. Listen to their feedback, and keep always improving your product according to your user's thoughts!
Where can we go to learn more?
- Website: failory.com
- Facebook: Failory
- Twitter: @hellofailory
- Recent article we were featured in: This Startup Will Help You Learn From Entrepreneurs’ Mistakes
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