Fail fast, fail cheap! – Even failing has to be learned

I was guest lecturer in Stefan Heinemann’s MBA class on “International Entrepreneurship” on 30 January 2016. This is a topic on which I cannot say much – academically speaking. But I know from personal experience when and how to apply the emergency break on a startup company.

In 2013 I founded the company “Daily Duty” with two frieds. We sold toilet paper online. Being ethically immaculate was our promise to our costumers: “Daily Duty’s donation roll – responsible toilet paper for a good conscience at the end of the food chain”. This business idea was basically quite good and charming. [PDF]

Yet, success did not ensue as we had hoped. Some aspects of our business model were not thoroughly thought through. Some aspects would have requested more commitment from our side.  Long story short: Hardly a year after starting our business, we sold it to a friend’s organic farm for little money – but the idea still did not quite succeed. Looking back, our startup experience was rather cheap, the amount of time and money invested was reasonable, according to the golden rule of business formation: “Fail fast, fail cheap!”

Based on this experience, there is quite a lot I can tell students about business formation, even without a flourishing little business of my own. It can be educational as well as entertaining to investigate together what went wrong. It is not surprising that with Fuckup Nights a worldwide movement has started 2012, in which young founders confidently report their failed business formations: A “culture of failing” as basis for success.