It is Wednesday evening in Zurich and I have just arrived at the Arthouse Alba, one of the city's oldest cinemas and today's location for the "FuckUp Night". Any concerns I had regarding the number of attendants quickly pass, as I notice the queue in front of the entrance, going all the way to nearby Central. I see a perplexed-looking passer-by being explained by the entrance staff what is going on and I am quite sure I know what puzzles her. After all, it is not everyday that hundreds of people gather to hear from entrepreneurs that DIDN'T succeed.
Or at least, for a long time it wasn't. In reality, the concept of giving entrepreneurs a voice to share their business failures has since 2012 become a global phenomenon. And considering that 90% of startups result in failure, this is not altogether surprising.
Tonight, we are joined by 4 of these entrepreneurs, who will each have 10 slides à 40 seconds to share their story with us.
The event is kicked off by Bart Clarysse, professor at ETH: "My first mistake?" asks Bart, cutting straight to the chase, " Starting a tech company with software engineers. PHD software engineers." He goes on to explain that despite their qualifications, none of them was able to predict the rise of their to-be main competition, the iphone, saying that they shrugged off the technology of apps as "pre-historic" and nothing to worry about.
Malik El Bay, co-founder of Yeppt (an app that aimed to bring messaging & date-finding together), also shares his main mistake and the solution thereof with us: "Take the approach of a chef when creating a product: Be sure to get the basic ingredients ready first and only then start cooking"
Albana Rama, founder of a facility & property management company, advises the audience to above all be passionate, saying that "No passion = no execution, no market evaluation, no sales"
Last to speak is Diego de Nicola, entrepreneur with a background in both the IT and bikini industry. Drawing on experience from two quite contrasting fields, he shares his two key learnings with us: 1) Know when to pull out (forget the sunk costs) and 2) Know your limits. Don't say "I got this" to everything, but instead focus on your strengths.
Réginald (from FuckUp Nights Switzerland) concludes the event by thanking the ETH EC and inviting the audience to join him for the apéro at Cabaret Voltaire.
- Jack Gasser, Events