Failure and the boiling frog syndrome
The “free fall enthusiast” is trying not to fall victim to the boiling frog syndrome again too soon.“Life taught kaboom failure expert. Freedom worshiper. Karma believer. Free fall enthusiast. Entrepreneur by heart.” – This is the story of Lukáš Hudeček
The “free fall enthusiast” is trying not to fall victim to the boiling frog syndrome again too soon““Failure is something that you only see in retrospective”, Lukáš Hudeček (30) explains to me over some Gnocchi. Wise thing to say – but could he elaborate? “I’ve started seven ventures and six of them failed. And let’s not forget my marriage”, he looks at me and adds smirkingly, “but give the girl some credit, she stayed with me for eight years.”
Turning back to business, Lukáš is frighteningly honest, giving us insight into the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial career:
Failure #1: Computer Hardware
Lukáš established a lively trade with discounted computer hardware while still at school. Among his customers were also his teachers, which helped to improve his grades. This did however not stop him from dropping out of high school.
Failure #2: LucasyncArt
He founded a web design studio in the process of which he learned programming. The business failed after about two years since he didn’t have experience with customer development and competition grew day by day.
Failure #3: HWMarket
Out in the real world, he started selling computer hardware online via a B2B platform for local sellers to automate the process of ordering and predicting sales. However, the market wasn’t ready yet as local sellers weren’t interested in his offer. After he spent half a year on developing the expensive platform, the project went bankrupt.
Failure #4: Outdoor Wireless
Business number four dealt with assembling a heavy-duty wifi router for rural areas. The first big contract brought in a lot of money. Lukáš even delivered some units to Tibet to support computer science at local schools and communities, which are still in use today. However, right in the middle of negotiating the second contract, the potential customer recruited Lukáš’ partner. So, Lukáš was left behind with a lot of assembly pieces, which had been paid in advance. After finding an alternative customer, he assembled the devices with his own hands and thus, was not able to meet the delivery date. As a result, he lost the contract, which again led to bankruptcy.
Failure #5 – Commax.cz
Despite selling almost everything, Lukáš was close to being broke again. He turned to his father, a sales rep for security and surveillance systems, programmed a website for these systems and started selling them online. Following a remarkable increase in sales thanks to extra customer support, the local distributor turned up on his porch. The distributor left him with the option to sell his business to them and become its sales representative. Otherwise, they would start putting a quota on his sales, thus forcing him to apply an end-user price policy and or cut him off supplies. Lukáš would have preferred keeping the website but decided to start acquisition procedure. Since valuation was slow, he kept looking for alternative supply channels to keep the business up. When his original suppliers found out, they stopped delivering to him. Because of these difficulties, his customer development weakened.
Failure intermission – Skype
After all these struggles, Lukáš felt a friendly force from his family and friends to go find a job. Shortly after he was hired to work for Skype in the secure web & payment systems team, his wife filed for divorce. While still based in Prague he travelled to Estonia frequently, where he met the Dane Kresten Buch, the author of Failing in business is alright. Missing his life as an entrepreneur and still struggling with hierarchies, Lukáš went to Kenya with Buch to support local entrepreneurs. These initiatives inspired him so much that he started similar activities, such as startup weekends and hackathons in Prague later on.
Failure #6 – StartupYard
Arriving at his next business destination, Lukáš founded StartupYard, an accelerator programme in Prague. Different visions on which direction the accelerator should take made the team and investors part ways.
The former Skype engineer and self-proclaimed “kaboom failure expert” is happy to share his experience with othersOpportunity: Node5
In April 2012, he founded the co-working space and incubator Node5 in Prague, which had originally been planned as a franchise of the London TechHub. Lukáš has been working on “creating a whole ecosystem for tech start-ups with mentors, funding and coaching” ever since. Currently Node5 has 100+ members and is the home base to 15 startups. Node5 is in the process of raisinga 2 million dollars seed accelerator fund that will enable them to accept additional tech startups in the areas of security, machine learning and internet from the beginning of December.
Looking back on his experience, it never felt like failure to Lukáš: “It is similar to relationships: things are getting worse and worse and only when it is really bad, you realise what happened”. Instead of frothing over past mistakes, he has learned from every single failure and he is happy that he made them. Still, he says, he will try to avoid falling victim to the boiling frog syndrome in the near future.