Lessons learned from my first failed venture
A huge part of our life is steered by our mistakes and how we perceive them.
Making mistakes is inevitable and a part of the process. And I strongly believe
success can be engineered by exercising our experiences onto it.
Sustaining a startup can be overwhelming but it can also be the key to success. In this article, I would like to share my experiences, how I failed in delivering my first brainchild and, yes, the lesson I distilled from it. Maybe, you will get some useful takeaways that you might implement in your own startup journey. I named it this venture MAXVR.
While in B.Tech. (Bachelor of Technology) first year, I noticed students were facing trouble getting notes.That made me think about introducing a website where one can upload the notes in PDF format and others can easily access it. After collecting all the notes of different engineering branches, I uploaded them with the help of one of my friends who had some knowledge of web development. And that’s when I got my first laptop.
First step towards my startup rather failure journey:
My first venture was a Virtual Reality(VR) gaming zone. Though the VR headsets and PCs required in these high-end game was quite expensive, we used to provide the service in affordable prices. The reason behind it was to introduce VR technology to people while we could be one step ahead by owning a franchise.
How I Got My First Idea:
As a tech-savvy person, I’m always vigilant of the latest tech trends in the
market. VR reaction videos were then quite the new entry and I, as a usual
enthusiast wanted to know all about it. Since it was too expensive, no one
really could afford it but luckily one of my classmates had it. He explained to me about google cardboard and how it can work on mobile phones. There I got to know about VR roller-coaster apps as well. This idea grabbed my attention and my brain was flooded with new ideas.
Materialising My Idea:
After getting good reviews of google cardboard VR and roller-coaster videos
from my friends, I was convinced that I could earn a fortune if I could introduce them to others. And that’s how I started…
Being a college student, money was the first hurdle that I had to face.
However, it wasn’t such a big of an issue as I was hell-bound to manifest my
idea into reality. Luckily, every year in our city an annual fair used to be
held, and a great number of people used to visit it. So, I thought why not
grab this opportunity and introduce a VR roller-coaster there.
Although I had to run an errand from taking permission from fair
authorities to paying a good amount for the location at the end it was worth the try. Besides, I borrowed an HD mobile phone, and a power bank from my
friends, bought an AuraVR box of Rs. 645($8) and I hired a guy to display the game.
After successfully convincing people to try the game for 1 min at Rs. 10(2 cents),I was able to earn Rs. 960($13) on the first day of the fair. By then I was more than positive about the success of my VR roller-coaster show. So the very next day, I borrowed two more mobile phones and hired one more person for the job. I managed Rs. 1550($21) that day and Rs. 870($12) the consecutive day. Though I was high on Dopamine and Adrenaline due to the response I was getting, I had to give up after three days because it was not convenient to borrow phones every day.
Be sure what you really want:
The first step in determining the goal is to see if that is what makes you wake
up in the morning. If it excites you and gets you out of your comfort zone to
achieve it. Well! When I was deciding my career goals, my classmates had
already decided and were busy preparing for the GATE exam(An exam in India for engineering graduates). Doing so was the ideal way to get a “respectable” job in India, however, that wasn’t the path I was trying to tread. Not my cup of tea!
In the meantime, I thought of starting a small business of file manufacturing
but dropped the idea soon.
People will try to pull you back:
There will always be people who will doubt your capabilities even I was mocked many a time for my ideas but that didn’t stop me. You know what you are capable of not them. Maybe you will fail initially but don’t you think it is better to fail than regretting not having ever tried.
The idea that you might have try might be unique and sometimes it might
happen that you are completely new to the platform. But it shouldn’t stop you
from manifesting it. In my case, though I wanted to make a career in this
gaming field, I had never played a single video game in my life until then and
didn’t know anything about PCs configuration. But before starting up the
journey, I did all my research like went to Nehru palace(a place in New Delhi, India for buying computers) and got a PC assembled, gathered all the information that I could lay my hands on, and so on.
Money wasn’t the only hurdle:
Being a student in India, it is obvious that we are not financially independent.
We still have to depend on our parents. I tried to partner with a person to start
my business. That didn’t click and I had to ask my parents for financial help. At first, they were reluctant but upon seeing my passion and perseverance, they offered me 4 lakhs INR ($5400) that too after selling a piece of land.
Another hurdle I had to face was the unavailability of a VR handset in India. For that I had to buy it from Saudi Arabia, luckily one of my relatives helped me with it. But sending money to Saudi was a real problem then and somehow a solution came up later on.
Never give up:
I was quite passionate about the idea of building my own VR startup.
Undoubtedly, it was difficult in the beginning. I met up with expert start-up
mentors and even joined in some meet-ups with like-minded entrepreneurs. I
even managed to find someone interested in getting a setup, although things
didn’t work out later.
All-in-all, giving up was not an option. This is something that I learned from all those interactions. There might be a possibility of your start-up failing in the end, however giving up guarantees a failure.
Sometimes you feel stuck!
There are certain times when you feel excited and frustrated at the same time.
That’s exactly how I felt just before launching my startup venture.
While I was busy, preparing for the launch, I get a call from an officer inquiring about the opening of my MAXVR franchise. I was reluctant to answer but as it was my startup business, I didn’t want any barrier that might cause any harm. So, I answered all his questions. But all hell broke loose when he said that I had to pay for the entertainment tax for running the business.
Firstly, the price for hourly gaming was already high enough and a further
increase would negatively affect my business. But somehow, I was successful
in overcoming the problem.
When you are determined enough to reach your destination, you will always
find your way out.
Careful approach is always good:
After clearing all the obstacles, I was successful in opening my first startup;
MAXVR. However, the vision I had for this startup was to turn it into a
franchise model. Hence, I started diving into all sorts of market research and
collected user feedback as well. But after running the business for about 6
months I realised that it is getting stagnant.
So I thought, to keep it going and growing I need to have an iron-clad plan and for that, I need to reach out to an expert.
Take expert advice:
Yes, I do agree being confident, believing in yourself, and pushing your limits is the key to entrepreneurial success. But you still need someone who can guide you as well as offer constructive criticism. This is where the role of a mentor comes in.
When I started my startup journey, I had no one to guide me but one guy
named Devansh, whom I had met on a Facebook group for people starting VR gaming zones.
He assisted me regarding VR gaming and later introduced me to a start-up
mentor who further helped me in analysing my progress.
And there he showed me the reality; the disadvantages of the funding and
expanding it as a franchise model. Thus, I acknowledged the financial
impracticality of this particular venture.
Sometimes it is hard to accept the reality for what it is. What you had thought
to be your brainchild venture isn’t guaranteed to be always a great-yet-
practical idea. I had something, in my opinion, a really great idea. VR tech is
indeed quite underappreciated right now and has quite an amount of untapped potential.
Hurdles, there were many. I did not stop even once to pursue my idea.
However, the reality is that when it comes to entrepreneurship, sustainability is the deciding factor.
Although my story might come off as quite anti-climactic, so is reality.
Startups can be challenging, however, be prepared to come to in-terms with
the facts as you proceed.
Now I work as a software developer. The story about how I went from being a mechanical engineering graduate to a self taught developer is coming soon.
I like to build products, convert ideas into reality. I share about products building, web development and my journey on Twitter, do follow me if you like to hear more.
Share your thoughts and comments about the article if it helped you in learning something new.