A few days ago, a popular On-Air Personality tweeted about how she started her phone-in radio show with no one phoning in for the first few weeks. Then her sisters and brothers called every day to participate and answer questions. Her friends would call, too, and then other people started calling.
Starting up and even sustaining a brand that resonates with people requires you to have the ability to remain resilient in the face of adversity. Today, an existing product rarely has not overcome or at least escaped failure. This drives home the point of the famous saying that failure is not fatal. Below is a list of three popular tech products that have bounced back from failures in the past.
The Reddit story is the proper definition of fake it, till you make it. At its inception, Reddit had absolutely no active users. To attract more users, Reddit Co-founder Steve Huffman admitted to creating several fake profiles that churned out actual content. Steve and Alexis Ohanian submitted all of the contents at first, and then they got a couple of other friends to join.
Interestingly, Reddit was officially started when Paul Graham rejected Alexis and Steve’s idea for investment as part of Y Combinator’s first batch. Today Reddit has over 430 million monthly active users, a 30.3% increase from 2020.
AirBnB started in 2008 due to ambitious thinking from co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who were broke and looking to make little money to pay their rents. The business idea was however conceived in 2007 when Brian and Joe decided to rent out air mattresses in their apartment to attendees of a conference because all the hotels in town were booked. With the success of that experiment, they both began their home and space-sharing journey, one which has heavily disrupted the hospitality industry.
Brian narrates about how a lot of people told them to their faces how dumb the business idea was. Including a designer in Los Angeles who said to him "Brian, I hope that's not the only thing you're working on." Today, Airbnb has 5.6 million active listings worldwide, there are at least 100,000 cities with active Airbnb listings and in total Over 800 million guests have lodged at Airbnbs.
Apple was on the brink of collapse in 1997 when Steve Jobs returned for a second stint in the company. Its stock had hit a 12-year low of $4 and the company reported a $708 million loss in the first quarter of that year. With Steve back at the helm of affairs, the company made a very controversial and historical move to partner with its biggest rival, Microsoft in a five-year deal that saw Microsoft invest $150 million in Apple to avert a collapse.
The partnership was announced by Steve at the ‘97 Macworld Expo amidst boos and cheers. The partnership indeed brought Apple back on track and in the following year, Apple released its first all-in-one Imac which has continued to evolve to date. In August last year, Apple became the first U.S company to be worth more than $2 trillion. In hindsight, the partnership with its biggest rival must have seemed the dumbest, but indeed Apple could have been in the abyss of failed tech companies without that smart move.
No business is permanently successful and not everyone finds success on the first attempt. It is your ability to use your failures as launching pads for your next big thing that determines how tough you are and how long your product’s name will remain on the lips of people.
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