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Startup failure story: lessons of a Hivebeat team

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Every startup has a story to tell. Be it a success story that resulted in a huge company formation. Or a startup failure story, full of regret, mistakes, and learned experience. No matter what direction you’ll take, you’re going to share the same feelings as all of the other founders once had. So be ready for any milestones you may have on your way and may the force be with you.

A Startup Failure Story Overview

A long time ago, in another galaxy… Well, not quite that far, but close enough for everyone to share with. In 2014 a young and full of energy group of people with shared interests and goals have cooperated to create a unique product. A product where every youngster will try to ease up his college life, that is a “Hivebeat”.

startup-failure-story-hivebeat

The founder, Jonas Bogh, believed in a digital solution that would connect every student in their respective university, to track down what kind of activities they are holding. That way pretty much any student will know where they can hang out during the week time! Additionally, the startup was also assisting students in building up their businesses, by sharing knowledge and experience during university activities. This is a startup failure story full of hope and different mistakes. So read carefully, as you might learn some things that could save your business.

Problems and Requirements

Since the initial launch, Hivebeat spread their entire network and platform for 15+ universities and more than 15000 students have immediately started to use this platform pretty rapidly. Thus, the founder understood that soon their startup product has to expand and scale according to the number of active users and students they will keep getting.

As the number of students has dramatically increased during the first year of release, Hivebeat customer office started to receive lots of suggestions from its main audience. Most of them were suggestions to the current system and the major target was to add the lacking features. The team got the flow of it and began to listen to them, adding more functionalities to their current platform.

The team had a great idea of an app that would connect all of the uni activities altogether, but they didn’t put much effort into the actual feature’s implementation. Therefore, an MVP launch will be a good idea to start putting more effort into development production.

During 2015, Hivebeat got itself into a 4-months incubator program for young startups and entrepreneurs. They did it to grow their business rapidly by gaining more customers, expanding revenue, improving conversions, and get more funds. During this huge startup booster camp, they decided to change their business ship direction. They ventured into the development of a SaaS digital product for the organization’s management programs.

Outcomes & Key Takeaways

In this section, we want to highlight all results from this startup failure story and analyze them to provide our own piece of mind.

As you might expect, the idea and the implementation processes scored really well. However, the company never did hit the right market ground and failed to develop the product in the right direction. All of this resulted in an unfortunate failure and became one of the startup horror stories, that everyone is afraid of. So let’s review what kind of issues they encountered and what kind of conclusions our agency has deduced.

Startup Scaling

As the customer tides have started to get bigger, Hivebeat has pecked upon the upcoming bait and started preparing for scaling. However, what they lacked at the moment of this decision is the knowledge of who their customers were and what exactly they wanted from them.

Scaling is a prosperous event for any startupper since it doesn’t signify a time for branching out, it’s more like a level up for your team. And what you should take into account is to carefully plan on a long-term basis, since most startups aim for the short ones. Once you’ll hit those, you’re gonna be in the shoe of your future self. Who is going to know exactly where and how your product should move on!

In favor of Hivebeat, the team should’ve spent more time with the customers and getting to know them, before throwing money at various acquisition channels. One shouldn’t spend an eternity of research and analysis, while all of his potential competitors will start to rule the market. However, once you’ll understand the path of your product, don’t let anyone stop you from publishing multiple ad campaigns.

MVP Launch

Initially, the Hivebeat platform was a very basic one and its major focus was on design. That’s why since the startup team started the MVP phase, they decided to go all the way to build it up to the core product. As they keep constantly adding and integrating more functions, to give it a more vibrant and polished look.

As an experienced digital solutions company, we know that an MVP is relatively much more complicated. It should only be initiated after early startup preparations every entrepreneur should do. This is the reason why entrepreneurs fail to realize that by not covering all core product aspects (ex. a business model or even a simple prototype), a founder is risking his whole company. At JetRuby, we always tend to analyze and foresee all of the possible variations and combinations your product may take. That’s why we strongly recommend going through some initial preparations like the DnD program we made.

As a result, most of Hivebeat’s developed product features were not properly tested and had tons of various bugs. Meaning that they concentrated on the current features and the technical debt, while everything else has faded in their vision. All of that can be named “ignorance of creating a product development strategy”. This is yet another one of the expensive mistakes that our team is discussing with every young entrepreneur during the Design and Discovery phase.

Customer Feedback

As the company entered into the startup incubator and focused on producing a SaaS product, they started to do too many things. For example, they focused on the back / front end development, while deploying various market strategies. Most of the things were coming directly from the voice of their customers.

You should assess feedback from the audience of your project, to understand their core problem and what to focus on. However, in this situation, the team should have followed their business goals, analyzed their product analogs, and simplified your app.

Unfortunately, the Hivebeat team actively started to listen to their customers, who directed their development path. Your potential customers may know the list of your app issues, but they don’t know the right solution. That’s why you are in charge of your idea and responsible for solving or implementing any required features.

Bootcamps vs Digital Solutions Companies

Startup incubators or accelerators are not direct solutions for the issues that you might have. Yes, it is a great place to gain new insights and achieve breakthroughs in product development. However, in all other cases where your startup truly needs a solid development path, clear project planning, and concrete deadlines our agency does recommend digital solutions companies and in particular, JetRuby offers a Design and Discovery phase, where all of these highlights are being covered in just 2 to 3 weeks.

In the case of Hivebeat, they had a pleasant time getting acquainted with experienced specialists and young entrepreneurs. What they missed however was the sense of the right direction. Rather than the major goal that they were aiming for. They were confused over unnecessary development processes too much. Eventually becoming listed in various sources as one of the “bad startup stories”, for good reasons obviously.

Conclusion

Overall, startups are a great thing and Hivebeat is not an exception. It’s a valuable example for the next generation of startups that can learn from the produced mistakes. One should not underestimate the difficulty of running a business infrastructure of any size and type. And also the power of startup failure story. As they could bring you more experience points than successful ones. We suggest reading more startup failure case studies and gaining more insights into proper business management.

There exist lots of various solutions that may solve all of the issues that the Hivebeat group encountered. Experienced mentors for young startups or perhaps careful and detailed research may be one of the solutions. For our agency, which was a former startup group, JetRuby has produced a Design and Discovery program for young entrepreneurs.

All of the uncertainties thoroughly and carefully discussed with each client individually. The majority of our clients truly believe that by following the DnD Phase iterations, a simple company owner can drastically decrease the chance of complete failure.


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Mark Polskii
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