Autopsy of a Startup – What I’d do differently next time.

I still think Fairway Pass is a good idea in Austin. Despite knowing very little about the available market, I imagine that the company could sell somewhere between 100 and 1500 discount vouchers each year. At $80 each, that isn’t bad money for a “side business.” And considering the popularity of coupons and vouchers right now, there is bound to be a market for the product. I also like the fact that once the product is “built” (via getting courses signed up and the design/printing done) there is not a lot of overhead involved.

So what would I do differently next time? A couple things….

1. I’d bring in a partner. As I outlined, my inability to be tenacious in the sales-process was one of the main reasons for a lack of success. I’d find a partner with the time and energy to chase down the right people at the right courses to build the Fairway Pass offering. Someone with a background in the golfing sector (or a regular player at a course) would be a benefit, but mostly the person would need to be willing to do the sales work I didn’t do.

2. I’d plan my calendar a bit better. I painted myself in to a corner by creating a strategy that focused on getting to market by the Holiday season. Once I missed that window, I lost most of my interest in the project. I thought that it would be a slam dunk to have the Fairway Pass ready in November for gift giving. What I ignored (and shouldn’t have) is that a good idea in December is a good idea in July (or April or January). Next time, I’d make sure the product-development cycle was on a timeline (like 100 days from the first course signing up to product launch) but I wouldn’t start the clock til a little traction had happened.

That’s about it. The site/product failed because (1) I didn’t do the hard work out on the street and (2) I lost passion to do that work once I heard “no” a couple times. In hindsight, it’s amazing that such simple things, things that I had complete control over were the reason Fairway Pass never got going. Maybe next time…


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