6 months ago
Why don't you relaunch my startup projects?
Open to ideas or acquisitions
Failure is an unavoidable aspect of life, yet many recoil at the word.
I've worked on unrelated startup projects. This is a list of products I developed (often as the tech lead or co-founder) and why they failed to launch.
Chess Bet (Betting)
As a chess player who plays 5 games a day and has an ELO rating of 2100, I tried to design a chess engine to rival stockfish and Houdini.
While constructing my chess engine, my cofounder asked me about building a p2p chess betting app. Chess Bet. There couldn't be a better time.
Two people in different locations could play a staked game. The winner got 90% of the bet and we got 10%. The business strategy was clear, but our mini-launch was unusual.
People started employing the same cheat engines I mentioned, causing user churn and defaming our product.
It was the first programming problem I couldn't solve after building a cheat detection system based on player move strengths and prior games. Chess.com, the most famous online chess software, still suffers from this.
We decided to pivot because we needed an expensive betting license.
We relaunched as Chess MVP after deciding to focus on chess learning. A platform for teachers to create chess puzzles and teach content. Several chess students used our product, but the target market was too tiny.
We chose to quit rather than persevere or pivot.
BodaCare (Insure Tech)
‘BodaBoda’ in Swahili means Motorcycle. My Dad approached me in 2019 (when I was working for a health tech business) about establishing an Insurtech/fintech solution for motorbike riders to pay for insurance using SNPL.
We teamed up with an underwriter to market motorcycle insurance. Once they had enough premiums, they'd get an insurance sticker in the mail. We made it better by splitting the cover in two, making it more reasonable for motorcyclists struggling with lump-sum premiums.
Lack of capital and changing customer behavior forced us to close, with 100 motorcyclists paying 0.5 USD every day. Our unit econ didn't make sense, and CAC and retention capital only dug us deeper.
Circle (Social Networking)
Having learned from both product failures, I began to understand what worked and what didn't. While reading through Instagram, an idea struck me.
Suppose social media weren't virtual.
Imagine meeting someone on your way home. Like-minded person
People were excited about social occasions after covid restrictions were eased. Anything to escape. I just built a university student-popular experiences startup. Again, there couldn't be a better time.
I started the Android app. I launched it on Google Beta and oh my! 200 people joined in two days.
It works by signaling if people are in a given place and allowing users to IM in hopes of meeting up in near real-time. Playstore couldn't deploy the app despite its success in beta for unknown reasons. I appealed unsuccessfully.
My infrastructure quickly lost users because I lacked funding.
This essay contains many failures, some of which might have been avoided and others not, but they were crucial learning points in my startup path.
If you liked any idea, I have the source code on Github.
Happy reading until then!