What have I learned from 4 startups failures?

Alex Skobe
6 min readOct 1, 2020

Hej folks!

I am a person who always dreamed about building big things. That one day an idea will pop up in my mind and I will become a millionaire.

Nowadays, especially in the IT world, such dreams can indeed come true, but is your dream real?

Let’s dive into my personal journey so I can share 5 key learnings that I have discovered so far.

Short story

After a few failed attempts at building big things, I decided to go back to school to understand the basic principles of Entrepreneurship and Economics. It was a really good decision for an IT guy like me, to understand the broader picture of the startup world.

After 1 year in academia, I found a co-founder and started a new venture. However, it didn’t work out financially, and likewise another venture that followed shortly after.

Yet my current and relatively new venture seems to be going quite well.

By looking back I have recognized that my initial dream to quickly become a millionaire now has changed.

And here are my 5 key learnings that I would like to share with you.

1. Money is not the goal

Business is a marathon, not a sprint

Yes, we need to pay bills, buy stuff for ourselves and family, but when you start your own company making it successful becomes much more interesting than just consuming expensive goods.

Now I see money as:

  • Resources to deal with your basic needs (first two blocks in Maslow pyramid) and grow the business. Resource for a long run
Read more about Maslow pyramid
  • A perfect metric proving that your business is sustainable as it created something that people are willing to pay for. An indicator that you are running in the right direction

I think you can do business only chasing big numbers in your account, the question is for how long? What would be your motivation when you reach a certain level?

2. Theory vs Practice

Knowledge without practice is useless. Practice without knowledge is dangerous (Confucius)

You probably know that from your coding experience:

  1. you are trying to solve a problem for days and making many mistakes until you reach the desired result.
  2. you read the documentation first and then try to solve the same problem.

In the startup world that works in the same way: better preparation such a good school, Mentors/Experienced Business Partners/Ycombinator, or other incubators will not make you a successful entrepreneur but will increase your likelihood of becoming one if you will apply this knowledge in the real world.

3. Habits matters

Our brains are pretty lazy and they try to automate many things in our lives (brushing teeth, washing hands, handshaking, etc..) to reduce daily energy consumption.

The cool thing about them is that we can cultivate good habits 📚The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

The 5 core pillars that I see among all successful entrepreneurs: sport, sleep, food, books, and for sure: love.

Sport 🏃‍♀️.

  • You will just feel better, especially in the IT world when you sit all day long in front of a laptop
  • You will have your own time away from your business thoughts. During this time you can meditate or listen to audiobooks
  • It will make you look better. People tend to trust more good-looking and fit individuals 📚The psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy
  • You can meet many interesting people through sports

Sleep 😴

  • Sleep is crucial for your recovery and efficiency during the day 📚Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker
  • Usually, we need 7–8 hours for sleep and if we eliminate 2 useless hours before sleep (TV series or social networks) it should be relatively easy to get to
  • How to sleep properly: a fresh dark room, minimum noise, comfortable bed, and less screen time before going to bed. No caffeine after 3–4 p.m.

Food 🥑

  • You Are What You Eat.
  • It is good to understand what is on your plate and do you need so much? I found the image below quite helpful
Read more
  • I am not counting each calorie, eat ‘junk’ food sometimes but in general keep the ‘Harvard plate’ recommendation

Books 📚

  • I have found that most people stop reading books after university, they just lose the habit of reading. Youtube, news, social networks, and other types of content are in demand, but books are often the origin of that content
  • I am trying to read ~ 30 books a year📚The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson. Check out goodreads.com to set your own goals and see what your friends read
  • I am using audiobooks a lot, but I understand that for some people this format simply doesn’t work. But, with a proper book, headphones, and the right attitude it’s worth a try

Love 💘

  • Work, money, business are important, but so are the physiological needs in the Maslov pyramid: intimate relationship and friends
  • How amazing is it to share your progress in business with someone?
  • Needless to say how important the support from your partner/friends and family when you just starting your own business

4. Time and luck

I guess the founder of Uber was inspired by the moment in the James Bond movie above

Back in the days, the internet was becoming faster, screens and batteries becoming better — it probably felt like a good time to start Uber 📚The Upstarts, Brad Stone

We often try to understand the reasons behind any major success, millions of books were written about becoming rich.

From my experience, the timing of starting your venture is super crucial: investing in remote education makes much more sense in Corona times rather than when the internet has just been invented.

And luck, that’s just luck. You can bump into the right person in a coffee shop in a queue, nobody knows, that’s just luck.

But you can stimulate that luck by being in the right environment: the chance to meet someone in a desert is much lower than in the middle of a big city

5. Grit

Business is hard, you are taking more risk, you live pretty poorly in the beginning and you don’t know when the money will come into your pocket.

Things take time, some of them you can’t speed up: paperwork, vacations of clients, Corona, or any other things.

Needless to say that you have to be prepared for the long run.

The hardest part is not going back to corporations for a good salary, especially when you already know the taste of it.

Pressure from peers that you are doing something wrong and nothing will work 📚That will never work, Marc Randolph

You will be facing all those things during your entrepreneurial journey, and you need grit to get over them!


How the first startup usually look like👆

As I found so far, entrepreneurship gives you a broader vision of the world, good habits, smart people around you, and maybe a little bit of 💰

Stay safe,
Best, Alex

And please don’t forget to like or leave a comment below if that reading was interesting for you ✌



Alex Skobe

Software entrepreneur. Helping your digital business to build and grow. https://skobe.co