Down, but Never Out. The Comeback Entrepreneurs of the Startup World, have Emerged Successful in their Next Attempt After Dismally Failing in their Previous Iterations. Their Learning’s from Botched Ventures have Helped them Execute Better the Next Time

Hi Everyone Today We will Talk About Entrepreneurs Who Never Gave Up

Many May Know InMobi as One of the Largest Mobile Ad Networks in the World Today, Able to Serve Ads to Close to a Billion People, and Rivalling Google and Facebook in that Capacity. Not Many Perhaps Know though that the Venture Nearly Died Within Months of Being Born.

InMobi Started as mKhoj in 2007, Founded by 4 IIT Alumni Led by Naveen Tewari. Tewari’s Idea Was to Enable Local Search Using SMS. As it Turned Out, there Weren’t Many Takers for the Service – People On the Street were Good Information Providers, and Few Felt the Need to Send SMSs to Obtain Information. The team had to take the Tough Call to Abandon what they Had Been Working On for Months.


In Deciding to Become An Entrepreneur You Commit A Part of Yourself to Failing Publicly.

Naveen Tewari

CO-FOUNDER, INMOBI, Whose First Venture mKhoj Failed

Nobody Wanted to Go Back to a Corporate Job; Everybody Wanted to try Out Something Else. The Next Months were Tough. They were Low On Money, so they Worked Without Pay, Avoided Personal Purchases on their Credit Cards, and Instead Used the Cards for the Needs of the Business. “I Used to Go to Bed Every Night, thinking Tomorrow Will be the Last Day of Our Business,” Re-Collects Tewari. But their Persistence Paid Off. Once the Product was Ready, Venture Capital Came In, and the Rest, as they Say, is History.

Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, of All the Entrepreneurial Stories Involve Dramatic Comebacks from Adversity.

Ravi Gururaj, Chairman of the Nasscom Product Council, says a Post-Failure Comeback is Often Stronger. “Arvind Kejriwal is a Great Example of a Restart of what is Essentially a Political Startup which Stumbled Big Time On its First Attempt and Came Back Super Strong in its Subsequent Election,” he says. Failure Becomes a Road Block Only to those Who have Stopped Learning and Resolved to Stop Trying.


Rohan Shravan

Failed With the Adam Tablet But Picked Himself Up and Re-Emerged 2 Years Later with the Cain Laptop-Cum-Tablet

Examples of Come Backs Abound in India. Mukesh Bansal had Failures Before Myntra’s Success. Rohan Shravan Failed with the Adam Tablet but Re-Emerged Later with the Cain laptop-Cum-Tablet. Vijay Shekhar Sharma was Weighed Down by Debts Owed by his One97, but Now his Paytm is a Happening Startup.

Mumbai Based Entrepreneur Bharat Ahirwar had to Shut Down his Personal Assistant Service At Your Service. A Year After He Started with Rs 5 Lakh in Capital, He was Left with Rs 20,000. Even his Family and Friends Expressed Disapproval. But Ahirwar Persisted; A Month Later He Started an Errand Running Service Get My Peon. He Gets Between 80 and 100 Orders a Day, and Believes He’s Ripe for External Funding.

With At Your Service, Ahirwar had Been Helping those New to Mumbai, Mostly Expats. “By the End of One Year, I had Met 3,000 People. But a Mere 30 Became Customers. Each Customer had a Lifespan of 3 Months, Before they Became a Local Themselves,” says Ahirwar. The A-HA Moment Came in the Form of a Nugget of Unattributed Wisdom Shared On the Internet. “I Read a Quote that Said – If You Can’t Break the Wall, Move to Another Wall. It Really Resonated!” says Ahirwar. The Other Wall was An Errand Service. “I Researched for a Couple of Days, and Found US Services like Task Rabbit and Get Friday did Not have a Parallel in India,” says Ahirwar, Who then Hired a Single Runner and Began Operating with a Facebook Page.

Investors Also Now Take Failure In A Positive Light

Sharad Shama, An Angel Investor and a Co-Founder of Software Product Association iSpirt, Calls the Single Attempt Success a Myth. “You Can’t Find the Product-Market Fit in One Go. You have to Keep Iterating to Stumble On to the Minimum Viable Product,” He says.

Entrepreneurs Most Often Re-Work the Model of their Existing Service or Product Once they Realize it is Tanking; Few Go in a Radically Different Direction. TalentPad’s Mayank Jain Shut Down his Job Referrals Service Zobtree when He and His Co-Founders had just About Enough Capital Left to Last A Month. From Referrals they Moved to the Talent Marketplace with TalentPad. “Zobtree was Meant to Help Companies Scale Up Employee Referrals. The Problem Was Genuine But Difficult to Solve. We Couldn’t Find a Product Market Fit. But in Doing Work On that, We Learnt that there was a Need for An Efficient Marketplace for Talent Hunting. That’s How TalentPad Happened,” Says Mayank Jain, Who Raised VC Funding for TalentPad.

Failing Is Good

If There is One Thing that Failure Does to You It Gives A Lesson for Life to Keep Going. Lessons from Earlier Experiences Help Build Better Products in the Future. Ravi Narayan, Director of Microsoft Ventures, Calls the Process of Failures “Enriching”. “It’s a Healthy Process and Helps the Entrepreneurs Who are Clear About Building a Company & Can Read the Market Better.

Jain Says He Learnt from Zobtree’s Failure that they Should Have Spoken to More Stakeholders and Done More Research. He Says Investors also Now Take Failure In A Positive Light, and Value Persistence.


Peyush Bansal

Failed with Campus Classifieds Portal Search MyCampus Before Making A Success Out of Eye Glasses Selling Portal Lenskart

It Was Persistence that Got Ambarish Gupta to Start Up All Over Again After Having Burnt his Hands Once. Gupta’s Bengaluru Based Real Estate Brokerage Firm Inventica Solutions that Lasted Only A Year. “That was a Time When People Were Still Grappling with the Dotcom Bust. There was No Sign of Any Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. I was a Technology Guy and I Didn’t have the Business Acumen to Work On Pricing and Raising Money for My Venture,” says Gupta, Who then Went to do an MBA from the US, and Followed that with a Stint as a Consultant. “I was 32 by then. I had 2 Options Either Settle for a Cushy Job in Corporate America or Get My Hands Dirty All Over Again. I had Enjoyed the Rush of Things In my First Stint as Entrepreneur, and I thought I wouldn’t Last Long in a Corporate Job. So I took the Plunge Again,” says Gupta, Whose Cloud Telephony Company Knowlarity Now has Offices in Singapore, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore, and Last Year Raised its Second Round of Funds from Sequoia Capital and Mayfield.

26% Of Indian Startups $277 Million Close Within A Year Of Starting

Few Inspiring Tales Of Comeback Entrepreneurs

Rowland Hussey Macy (1843)


Rowland Hussey Macy Opened his First Retail Dry Goods Store in 1843. It Failed. Between then and 1855, He Opened 3 More. They All Failed. Macy then Moved to New York City in 1858 and Established a New Store Named R H Macy Dry Goods, Significantly North of Other Dry Goods Stores of the Time. It Proved A Success. Macy’s is Now a $28 Billion Departmental Store Chain.article-image-1-1-1

Henry J Heinz (1869)


In 1869, Henry Heinz Formed a Partnership Called Heinz, Noble & Company that Sold Bottled Horseradish, Sauerkraut, Vinegar, and Pickles. But the Business Failed in 1875. Heinz then Formed Another food Partnership, Called F&J Heinz. Its Now Renowned Ketchup was Added in 1876. In 1888, Heinz Gained Control of the Firm and Re-Named it H J Heinz Company. It Now has Revenue Over $11 Billion.


Henry Ford (1899)


His First Venture, Detroit Automobile Company, in 1899, Failed, and Was Dissolved in January 1901. Then Followed the Henry Ford Company and Ford & Malcomson. The latter was Reincorporated in 1903 as Ford Motor Company after a Payments Crisis Forced the Venture to Bring in New Investors. It Was Another 5 Years before the Model T was Introduced. The Rest is History.


Steve Jobs (1976)


Sales of the Apple Lisa and the Macintosh Disappointed & Steve Jobs Was Fired in 1985 from Apple Computer, the Company He Co-Founded in 1976. He then Founded NeXT, but Poor Sales Made Him Dump its Hardware Division and Focus On Software. In 1996, Apple Acquired NeXT and Jobs was Soon Back at His Old Job. In 2001, Jobs Launched the Iconic iPod, and 6 Years Later, the Equally Iconic iPhone.


Mikael & Niklas Hed (2003)


article-image-5-1In 2009, Mikael and Niklas Hed’s Rovio Was Close to Bankruptcy. Since its Founding in 2003, The Finnish Video Game Developer Had Developed 51 Games, but Hadn’t Made Much Headway. And then the Heds Saw Smartphones Emerging. They Saw the Ease of Customer Access that the Apple App Store Provided, and Decided to Develop Something with Universal Appeal. Thus was Angry Birds Hatched.



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