FailCon does exactly the opposite. The event asks successful founders, investors and developers to discuss their past blunders and what they've learned from them. While this may seem like a series of sob stories, the result is actually a list of practical tips on how to reduce risk, manage teams and recover from adversity. In today's afternoon sessions several panelists shared their war stories and set the stage for lessons.When so many conferences feature CEOs rehashing their past successes,
Gnip founder Eric Marcoullier had some colorful words for the audience, "Sometimes I feel like a stolen watch salesman. When someone asks to hear about one of my failures I can open up my coat and ask which one they'd like to see."
Says Marcoullier, "Misery is nature's way of telling you you're doing it wrong...Since we've changed directions, we're currently working on a new platform and we've released more features in one month than we had in the previous 6 months. I don't know if we're going to succeed, but we're going to find out a lot faster now."
Meanwhile, social Q&A site Aardvark's cofounder Max Ventilla talks about the importance of hiring the right people, building a culture of iteration/experimentation and setting the stage for continual learning. Aardvark is a great example of a well-executed real-time company and we first gave it a favorable review in late March.
Says Ventilla, "There's an infinite number of B+ players available to hire, but you've got to get people who are passionate about the product and who will attract other good employees."
Ventilla explains that co-founders should be patient and continue to experiment with processes and products. He stresses that startups should task specific people in an organization to disseminate data and discuss new approaches as a group.
"Transparency needs to be a default," says Ventilla. "Executives need to be willing to learn and discuss business in order to gain collective wisdom as a company."