Killing Off Brinktop

July 2, 2015

in Ownership, Starting Up, Team Building

Last summer I attempted to start two new business:  Dyced and Brinktop. I have already written about the rise and fall of Dyced. Dyced lasted only 2 and a half months. Brinktop on the other hand lasted nearly 10 months. I introduced Brinktop before.

Brinktop started to make highly customizable laptops. But laptops are priced too low and laptop ownership is on the decline.

So we pivoted into building DIY kits for Android tablets. The thought was to provide an educational experience through the DIY experience which results in a fully functional and fun Android tablet.

Biggest Mistake

We spent too much time without enough progress. We never sold anything in those 10 months. Big mistake. We should have come to the two realizations below much earlier.

Two Realizations

#1 Wrong Team

Eventually we realized we needed to recruit another technical co-founder to our team. We had temporarily lost our original technical co-founder due to a tragedy.

One of the the individuals we talked to had great experience. When I looked across the table at him, I realized I had been funding the wrong people to work on this project. That person could have done everything my team had done in much less time and all by himself. He was a tinkerer, marketer, and fundamentally an entrepreneur at heart.

I don’t mean anything against the people we had on our team. They were all great. But they were not the right people for the job. They lacked the particular skills required to build and move DIY hardware kits. They also lacked some of the insane drive that is required in the early days of a startup to really get a startup off the ground. And we had the setback of temporarily losing our original technical co-founder.

#2 Not Enough Market Size

In talking to people to hire, we ran across some numbers that led me to believe the market size for Brinktop was not large enough to justify further investment. The outlook was not strong.

So I pulled the cord. Rather immediately upon learning those two things.

In hindsight, I wish we would have talked more with our competitors in the early days. We did customer discovery interviews with many potential customers. But none of them were privy to the right information that we would have needed to make this decision. The delay in coming to those two realizations cost roughly $100k overall.

What lessons have you learned from failed startups?

Previous post:

Next post: