Writing about failure sucks. But here's the real story.
Incredible! The paradox is that everybody says to learn from failure but everyone tends to read books on successes. I always find stories like this is 10x more valuable than reading how someone succeeded. Thank you for this and it inspires me to write about my own failures.
This is so relatable. I too sunk everything I had into a business dream that was unfulfilled. It stinks. Glad to see I'm not alone. Thanks for sharing.
One equation that might have saved a lot of stress up front is CAC < LTV. In other words, only pursue the business if the cost of acquiring each customer (CAC) is significantly lower (like 3x lower) than the expected lifetime value of the customer. While it is clear that the LTV is probably pretty low due to the margins in the travel business, there was not a lot written here about the cost of customer acquisition or about experimenting with different methods of acquisition.
You and your wife are CHAMPIONS for sharing this with the rest of us. I’m a 5x entrepreneur. My wife and I are working on a business right now that will benefit from the wisdom you shared.
I’m sorry you went through what you did and I’m grateful to you for helping the rest of us by teaching these lessons.
Appreciate the transparency CJ!
This was such a good article. Thank you. Did you ever consider “no code”? Wonder if you could’ve shipped faster and for $0 Dev cost. Just wondering - don’t know the answer
If there would be a newsletter, collecting these kind of stories, I would subscribe and share it immediatly.
Thank you for your courage!
Absolutely phenomenal read. Survivorship bias is what most aspiring entrepreneurs fail to consider. Thank you! I too lost ~200k+ this way.
I’ve heard you talk about this experience before but never knew the details. It’s funny how failures are where we learn the biggest lessons and usually drive success in the end. Thanks for sharing!
Glad you shared this story publicly! Cool to read it vs hear you tell it
Nice writeup! I was technically a co founder doing industrial design work for a company, but every time I'd ask for a contract (because it was agreed from day 1 that I'd take half in cash half in equity) the founder would constantly move the goalposts and say the product needed to be more fleshed out so he could get investors so that we could all get paid. I ended up doing the initial designs and renderings of 3 products over the course of 6 months, and ended up quitting because of a family medical emergency, and I couldn't afford not to get paid. I think people need to be weary of the term co-founder as it seems to be a nebulous, catch-all term to get people to do free work for you even if it's agreed that you want to be paid (at least partially) upfront. The really lame part is that when I share my story people can't wait to say how stupid I was for working for free for so long, but always have nothing to say for the people who took advantage of me. As if the default worldview in startups is to reward that kind of 16th century behavior, and place the sole responsibility of the situation on the workers shoulders, as if the employer "can't help but be that way."
Great story CJ