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Month: December 2023

All Great Things Part 2: The Founder’s Dilemma

I recently posted an article about the demise of DataDistillr. It was painful to write and I was worried that by doing so, it would make me look very foolish. After all, I was documenting what mistakes I felt I made that caused the failure of DataDistillr. I didn’t want to point fingers at anyone other than myself, but I did want to share some lessons which I learned that hopefully will help people in their startup journey. I did get some heat from some folks in an online community which I joined. I won’t name names, or print quotes but it wasn’t kind to say the least. (One even called me a troll!!)

With that said, after reading my list, I couldn’t help but notice that these lessons are all the things that every founder is supposed to “know”. Concepts such as stay focused, hire slow, fire fast, etc. Every founder should know these things… How is it that I didn’t?

The answer is that it isn’t so simple.  When you are in the thick of things, you have to make choices while juggling many different priorities, and the answer isn’t always obvious. 

I’m going to present you with a situation that actually happened to us and give you the chance to decide what you would do if you were in charge. I’m changing the details slightly so that nobody gets embarrassed but the substance of the interaction is something that really happened to us.

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All Great Things…

Well, this is the post I’d hoped to never write, but alas, we’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to shut down DataDistillr. We gave it our best, but in the end we weren’t able to achieve product-market fit.

What Happened?

I think several things led to our demise. Basically, it can be boiled down to changing market conditions, not building the right product and not selling what we had effectively. As CEO, I own all of this and accept responsibility for all this except for changing market conditions.

What I Learned

This is the painful part to write as it kind of makes me sound like a fool…. Ok, so maybe I am a bit of a fool, but it’s very easy to look at all this in retrospect but much more difficult to do so when you’re in the middle of it all. Also, we did do a lot of things well, like building a solid product that worked really well.

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