This year we chose to host the FuckUp Night at the cinema „Arthouse le Paris“, which is close to the opera house of Zürich.
It was a huge success, we were almost sold out immediately and people were already queuing half an hour before door opening. As soon as the people entered, they of course received some accommodation in the form of a Holy Cow burger as well as beverages.
After the cinema hall was filled and everyone took his place, the FuckUp Night could start.
Gregory, the president of the ETC Entrepreneur Club, gave a short introduction about the FuckUpNight: In the beginning of FUN in Zürich, our venue was much smaller: The bar Cabaret Voltaire with a capacity of approximately 150 people. Now, the fourth edition with over 400 people had to take place in a whole cinema hall!
Reginal, the traditional moderator of the FuckUp Night took over and gave a quick insight into the story of FUN in Switzerland. Starting as a small event of friends sharing their FuckUps in Mexico, the FuckUp Night quickly spread around the world. Reginald brought it to Zürich in early 2014, additionally it takes place in Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg and Valais and besides Switzerland in more than 65 countries.
Shortly after this introduction the first speaker climbed the stage. Ian Roberts, CEO of Bühler, spent most of his life working for big companies. When he came to Bühler, his working colleagues and employees were very critical and didn’t trust him. At one point Ian stated that a specific product won’t have a future. None of his working colleagues believed him and in the end Ian reluctantly gave in. After all, it was a huge mistake, because he had been right from the beginning and the product failed.
From this moment on Ian regretted that he had let something happen where he knew he should have prevented it from happening. He realised that in life you should do the right thing no matter how hard it is!
The second speaker, Alan Frei, who is the co-founder of “Aromana”, started his speech by saying, “I am the Michal Jordan of FuckUps”. This catchphrase turned out to be spectacularly true very soon. Alan founded around five companies, and each single one of them failed. Amongst others he founded a company to produce Mangoschnaps and something similar to Air B’n’B for food. Alan summarised what he learned from all his failures:
First, one needs to focus on one project. Otherwise one is in a to-do-list mode which never ends and one has no time and space for new ideas, which can bring the company further. Second, you need to balance idea and love. You need to have a good idea and then you have to execute it correctly. Third, it is the team. Never choose mediocre people, always choose the best.
The third speaker followed up on stage. Delighted by Alan’s story, he quickly came to confirm all his points. Viktor Calabro, founder of StuffFinder, started being a smart entrepreneur already as a kid, when he was renting out his video cassettes for 50 cents to school friends. Before he founded StuffFinder he wanted to bring a nightclub concept from Amsterdam to Zurich. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as a success. They had never really talked to their customers to find out what their needs were! So, they failed, while his partner had a burn out and a lot of money was stolen from them by a shady businessman. In the end the moment came he had to call all his suppliers and tell them that he fucked up. All the invested money was gone. He could not live up to their and his expectations. A truly tragic moment for Viktor.
It wasn’t easy but he learned a lot from it. After his bad experience, it was mainly about planning and hiring the right people.
The second last speaker, Marcus Kuhn, dived into entrepreneurship after having done some inspiring internships. He founded the company connex.io which ended up as a complete disaster. The idea behind connex.io was an address book that update itself on all your electronic devices, a revolutionary concept at that time! They did fail because according to him they were to slow and the team was not set up the right way. When Marcus started with connex.io the iCloud did not exist yet but it was on its way. We saw that timing is extremely important, because iCloud has very similar features, and having a competitor like Apple in the business is a huge game changer…
The last speaker came all the way from Australia to talk at the FuckUp Night. Jost Stollmann, an entrepreneur in the promising Fintech industry, started his talk saying ‘I am a serial fuckupreneur’. His message was that one does affect family and friends with one’s failures. Always be aware of that and plan according, but also be aware that life continues even after the biggest fuck up.
After the talks the audience was eager to ask the speakers personal questions and gain some experience from these surely amusing fuck ups. After exchanging lots of opinions and learning from the focused knowledge on the stage, the long-awaited FuckUp Night slowly came to an end. But, as you know the Entrepreneur Club by now, the evening was not quite finished yet… We returned to the beginning of the FuckUp Night in Zürich to the famous Dada bar Cabaret Voltaire, where people received a drink to chat and let the evening come to a relaxed end.