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Starting Over

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently - Henry Ford

Most of us want to leave our mark in some way; whether it's through career, family or adventure. One of my personal goals (besides travelling the world, winning a cheese-eating competition and becoming a crazy dog lady) is to make an impact through my career. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well… every idea has the potential to be the next big thing. Innovation is making millionaires left, right and centre and I want a chunk of it!

I work in the digital space. Every time I read about a new kick-arse start up I think "why didn't I think of that?" The winning idea seems to have a simple formula – just look at UBER, Airbnb or Etsy for example. They aren't new concepts, and they don't actually sell anything. They simply facilitate a convenient transaction between two parties. The business model isn't new either; the innovation is in the delivery. Basically the tech boom has created a mass of clever, profitable affiliation platforms.

Build it and they will come… right?

I thought it'd be easy to jump on this bandwagon. In 2005 I started a travel forum, blog and affiliate website called ‘Explore With Me'. I spent countless hours updating it, researching, creating, promoting. But two years later I was so disheartened by the low response that I shut it down. I couldn't place my finger on why it hadn't been successful, but I took my passion and moved on to the next project. And so, Foodo was born.

Foodo was conceived in 2008 out of the Aussie food craze, of which my partner and I were enormous advocates (YUM!). Foodo was an online gourmet food market that sourced food from local Aussie artisans and shipped it to your door. Our project appeared in newspapers and foodie magazines. We had a store filled with 200 products representing30 small food brands. This was it! Our big break had finally arrived.

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Despite a steady flow of one-off purchases Foodo's sales weren't great. We weren't turning a profit, similar websites started popping up – and the buzz wore off. In January 2015 we closed the virtual doors and with I sigh, I digress – another business failure.

What's the secret?

What do companies like Airbnb or UBER have that Foodo didn't? I've obsessed over this question and I think it comes down to three things.

  • An idea needs to solve a consumer problem. It shouldn't create its own set of problems.
  • Follow the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle. You shouldn't have to explain your idea.
  • Test, learn & be patient. Did you know that Airbnb was launched in 2007? They pushed their platform by leveraging popular sites like Craigslist. They took note of the bookings and realised that images, personality and very detailed descriptions performed best and adapted their listings to suit the market.
  • A wise TAFE NSW teacher once told me to keep an ideas notepad with you - you have an average of 50-70,000 thoughts a day… One of them might make you you a millionaire. :)