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How we failed?

Gonnasphere was my first startup project which is the second place winner of MIT Enterprise Forum Turkey Business Plan Competition. It was a web-based social agenda organized around your interests. It was founded by three ambitious, young computer science students. Like any other stories, Gonnasphere is also a garage startup because it’s fundamentals implemented in Bilkent University’s library. Its target was also students so it can be said that we were working in terms of lean principle. We didn’t need to go outside to evaluate the conclusions of our actions. But, how we failed? There are several reasons which we can see know. What are they?

  • Lack of Strong Revenue Model: Considering startups who need to build their user bases on their own, need a strong and reliable revenue model. Gonnasphere does not have one. When VC’s were asking about it, we say we are gonna take advertisements from event companies etc.. However, it was not a realistic idea. So, we could not have any advertisement.

  • Lack of Experience in Terms of Marketing and Sales: Since we were three computer science student, we obviously were to be ignorant of the importance of sales and marketing.

  • Lack of Strong Viral Loops: It’s a bit cliché, I know, but creating viral loops might be really useful. But Gonnasphere does not have a real one. Therefore, it’s user acquisition was slow and slowness kills startups like Gonnasphere.

  • Shadowy Added Value: We could not tell people the essence of application, added value. When they open the app, almost 90% of people don’t understand what to do, or what is going on.

  • Weak content: Content partnership was a crucial step for startups like Gonnasphere. However, we didn’t have any content partnership with any other event websites like MyBilet, Biletix, Dakick. Since then, we were starting to use Dakick’s API to have more detailed content but it was not enough to acquire people to use our application. More content is always needed. You need to be working on it.

  • Deafness to the customer feedbacks: As a startup product manager, you need to always be hearing what your costumers say. If you don’t have any channel to take feedbacks or if you don’t care one-to-one feedbacks from users or potential users, you are gonna fail it is not black magic.

  • Always Go Mobile First: Gonnasphere was firstly released on the web. But it was an obvious mistake. We, then completely pivoted to the mobile area but it was too late.

Regardless of these failures, Gonnasphere makes us a strong team and after that, we released successful applications to mobile and even web.