This was the 2nd version of the logo, actually. We had the 1st one before this.
This is my personal story and what I have learned after running the tech company in San Francisco. First of all, hers is the reason why that I started a tech business. When I was 23 years old, I had an event business in Tokyo; I thought about how to scale my event business before incorporating the business entity. How to scale the business, this question was that stack in my head for a while. Every day by day, week by and week, month by month. I was asking the same question myself. I clearly remembered that I didn’t have the answer to this. After reading books, brainstorming any possibility to scale the business, and searching for ideas, my conclusion was to move to Silicon Vallery because many tech companies are rising from there: Twitter, Facebook, Meetup and etc. I literally thought there is a physical place, town, or city called Silicon Vallery. First of all, back then, I didn’t speak English at all. So, everything was quite challenging and exciting. Besides this, I didn’t know anyone over there.
Before I incorporated the company in the U.S., some of my friends and I built and tested four applications and services since 2014. Over four years of experience in my tech company since 2016, I had shut down the main service, Foxsy. Foxsy was an AI matchmaker to make online friends across multiple messaging applications.
After we acquired a lot of users, we decided to shut down the app. Because it was too expensive for me to keep the server as people were still using it. And then, last year, this time, I shut down my company. Finally, I am sharing this to move on from the previous journey. Over four years of experience in my tech company since 2016, I have learned a lot. I mean, A LOT. It was great. Overall, I was thankful for any opportunities that I had and everyone I came across during my journey. In the end, Foxsy was not successful. Just one of the failed startups in the world. But again, I feel great about the things I have learned and that I can use for my next journey and even share my lesson learned with aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage founders. I can turn my failed startup’s experience into a grateful life asset, and the lesson learned is my knowledge.
Generally speaking, it is quite challenging for startups to succeed in their business. Here are the statics. First of all, 80–90% of companies even don’t launch a product. Secondly, the rest of 10–20% of companies can get users or customers who love their products? Let’s repeat 10% — 20%? Lastly, from here, startups 1–4 startups need to find a product-market fit and grow. This may be another 10% of success for each step.
If: X is the number of companies = 10,000
X*(10%*10%*10%*10%)= 1 for growth companies and from there again once to a couple of times more this math.
The thing I want to say is a successful startup = Miracle!
In our case, we didn’t reach out to the Miracle. What was our schedule, how we started it, and how we executed it as a team? Two Co-Founders and I lived together at the same house in Berkeley. Literally, we worked, lived, cleaned a house, cooked, spent time together literally 24/7. As we didn’t know how to build startups, there was one way to develop our startup: Execution, execution, execution. We always try it without questioning and learn from our mistakes and success. We ever tried, errored, understood, and hustle.
It was the best way to execute any ideas and deliver our product to the market most efficiently, effectively, and cheaply. We were like a cockroach. We do have so many funny stories: we used the law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, aka WSGR. Their co-working space is in Soma, San Francisco. We stayed until kicked out there the office due to a security issue; we always ate office snacks and had drinks. These free meals were a paradise for us.
One of the stories which described us clearly was that there is a beagle store next to the office. Every Friday around 3 PM, they throw away leftovers, we wait to get them, and it becomes our meal for weekends, at least it is Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast.
For example, this is our daily schedule:
- Stand-up meeting at 6 AM at the kitchen and leave home before 7 AM.
We brainstorm and test a new app that we see news on TechCrunch during our commenting ours.
- Start to work in Starbucks around 7:45 AM until the office opens at 9 AM
- Have lunch around 1 PM. Usually, go to Safeway to get two or three bread pieces for $2.99 and soup for $3.50 and share with other teammates.
- Work at the office until we’re kicked out. It is usually around 9 PM and heads back home to Berkeley
- I usually cook dinner as I am not a software engineer. Software Engineer is the king! The reason is to maximize the product development speed, the rest of the team can spend coding and built the product.
- After dinner, work until 1 AM. We rent a master bedroom. The main bet as a semi-double one is for CTO, and 2nd bedroom, a single one is another software Engineer. Of course, I don’t have a bed and sleep on the couch in the living room. Just once, we didn’t have enough money, so we sold the furniture that I picked up from an old apartment that I lived in before starting a startup.
- After working this life for almost two years. We start to become remotely. We travel together to have an intense team collaboration while having a remote work environment.
Here are some pics about about us:
As the team, what we have achieved:
- We grew from 0 to almost 1 million users, precisely around 950,000 users.
- Active users: Monthly active users 150,00 and Daily active users 15,000 users
- Session length is around 15 to 20 minutes
- Ad conversation rate was 1.7%
- Feedback from more than 30,000 users
- The survey from over 5,000 users
- Interviews with more than 100 power users
- Got the best social bot 2016
- POCs with a google’s team, Viber, and FC Barcelona
GIF: lesson learned http://gph.is/2e3f3Zs
Here are lesson learned :
- Don’t believe startup myths
- Test your hypothesis
- Do something that doesn’t scale
- Have a lean mindset
- Hack your ideas and processes
- Build something people really love
- Have the right metric and growth equation
- Turn user’s love into a viral mechanism and spread it to potential users
- Find out the risk: market risk or execution risk.
- Ask the right questions to the right people.
- Create a network: investors and experienced entrepreneurs who went through the same process
This week, I will share the blog post that might help aspiring Entrepreneurs and earthly stage funders. Again, I cannot find enough words to show my appreciation to co-founders, old-teammate, business partners, investors, users, family, friends, and anyone who supported me and our journey. I feel very thankful and want to say thank you for your support again.
If you are interested in it, here are my social media and blog. Feel free to share your experience and share your thoughts too me.
Extra thanks and big love for co-founders: Yoyo and Luke.
Early team members and supports: Phi, Dallas, Taiju, Thomas, Yuya, Jules, and Kawahara-san. All mentors, advisors, and investors!
Here is my social media account, if you are interested in this: