The Daily Bones

Jun/10

22

What Happened to that Fail? – The Point

Have you ever used The Point? Heard of it? Neither did any of the 850 audience members at the New York Tech Meetup on June 8th.

A few weeks ago a new segment was introduced entitled “What Happened to that Fail” at the NYTM. Basically, a presenter gives a short talk on their failed venture demoed previously on the NYTM stage. The inaugural subject was Andrew Mason, founder of “The Point”, a site created to harness the power of groups to get things done that normally can’t be accomplished alone. Like most entrepreneurs who cross the stage at the NYTM, Andrew presented the Point back in 2007 with high hopes of its potential to change the world and dramatically increase the power of people working towards a common cause.

After realizing that the site was just too unfocused and failing to gain traction, the team at the Point took a step back and attempted to leverage the technology they created to develop something a bit different and ideally, profitable. They took a small portion of the Point – group buying – brainstormed different ways to make it successful. I think we all realized where this was going – that small subsection of the Point became one of the fastest growing companies in business right now: Groupon.

The site went from idea to conception in about a month, beginning as a small blog called “Get Your Groupon”. “Get Your Groupon” used a small flash widget originally developed for The Point, featuring a daily deal only unlocked when a certain number of people committed to the deal. The site exploded as has been well publicized; in its 20 months of life, it’s spread to 18 countries, 150 cities, and sells 50,000 groupons a day. They’re currently amassing subscribers at the tune of 1 million people per month.

The best part of the entire interview:

Scott:

What is the “Hallmark after school special” take home message?

Andrew:

Shit that you read all the time. The biggest mistake we made with the point was being completely encumbered by this vision of what I wanted it to be and taking 10 months to build the product, all the while making assumptions on what people want that we then spent the next 10 months backtracking on instead of focusing on the one piece of the product that people actually liked. You’re way too dumb to figure out if your idea is good. It’s up to the masses. So build that very small thing and get it out there and keep on trying different things and eventually you’ll get it right.

If it hasn’t been driven home enough, failure can often provide the types of lessons that lead to future success. The Point swallowed their failure, abandoning their original goal of changing the world through the power of groups and honed in on a small segment of their original idea. They revolutionized deal discovery and amassed a $1.85 billion valuation, all by making things simpler and focusing on what people actually wanted.

Here’s the full clip. [Funny aside - this was directly after Meetup founder Scott Heiferman smashed an iPad with a sledgehammer]

Watch live streaming video from nytechmeetup at livestream.com

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  • Been there done that. Wise advice--being too focused on your vision instead of letting the market decide. I learned that from my own mistakes too. Failing is learning.

  • Afford Anything

    You hear over and over that successful entrepreneurs failed again and again before they succeeded. Perhaps part of the reason they're successful is because they're willing to fail -- and try again.

  • Rob

    Awesome point. I was a fan of Groupon from a business perspective since my girlfriend showed it to me 8 months ago. So simple, so ripe an idea...loved their comments...basically get out of your head and execute on mini visions until once catches. I wish I would actually listen to that advice instead of read it everywhere. Nice succinct post!

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