Any human alive will attest that failure is possibly as inevitable as death. Any entrepreneur worth his salt will further stamp and sign in triplicate the absolute necessity for failure. It is best to think of success as a temporary state, much like darkness or silence, made possible only in the absence of their antonyms.
What is failure, really? Not turning a profit, maybe bankruptcy, not generating enough revenues? Well, yes, that’s how they defined it back in the 19th Century, but the world has changed significantly since. In fact, the statistic claiming “8 out of 10 startups fail” is a commonly held belief that has no traceable origin in any study or paper. It is quite unpredictable. Failure is no longer equivalent to leprosy and society has since began appreciating it.
Difficult to predict, however, easy to quantify, as evidenced by NASA’s incessant habit of collecting every bit of data on all their failed missions. It is Should startups operate with NASA like precision? Ideally, yes. However, all of that is predicated on someone ready to brave the unknown.
Rather than stand at the precipice of mediocrity and stare into all that might have been, entrepreneurs are the brave souls who step forth with the determination to find out exactly what might be. Failure is how we’ve learned to walk, run, ride a bicycle, swim, et al. We did it wrong until we finally got it right.
Now, this isn’t just diarrheatic motivational babble that leaves the system just as soon as it enters. Startup Magazines aren’t interested in the temporary. The startup eco-system has no use for ‘temporary’. Instead, we focus on things we can back up with some verifiable data and credible sources. This does put the burden of exploration on us.
Freedom to fail
In most cases, the last time a parent let a child fail was when they were learning to walk. Imparting knowledge takes place in the following 4- steps, be it parenting or training.
1- You do it for them
2- You do it with them
3- You watch them do it
4- They do it independently
Failure to move on to step 4 is referred to as Helicopter Parenting. A study shows that even Pakistani parents are susceptible to either avoidance or divergently, strict control, especially academically. When step 3 is met with micro-management, step 4 is delayed. The successful completion of step 4 is when a skill is considered “transferred”.
The agenda here is to emphasize that failure, despite being so insidiously reviled, is absolutely necessary to succeed. We accept that this is how medical science evolved, and now we have studies coming out on how to integrate failure in one’s life to improve academic quality.
Startup Magazines’ “exit interview” is a compendium of entrepreneurs in Pakistan who encountered failure first-hand. Sometimes an entrepreneurial vessel will find land. Many, however, will end up residing at the bottom of the ocean.
The “exit-interview” expedition is a deep-dive sifting through the wreckage to make sense of how things ended up here. The aim is to let these failures become teachers.
The entrepreneur’s journey
This is a general warning to any who might be interested in entrepreneurship. This is a perilous journey. However, we are not gatekeepers. All are free to enter/exit, however, we wish to portray this culture and lifestyle as realistically as possible. Time, money, energy, motivation, relationships and sometimes even mental health will be the casualties of these skirmishes. This lifestyle, like ancient Mayan deities or the Soul Stone, demand sacrifice. Some of these aspects will (not might) fail and you will grow.
The Sum of all failures
Startup Magazine was originally Pakistan’s first magazine for entrepreneurship. Though we are proud to hoist that mantle for as long as records are kept, we must come to terms with the fact that the past is in the past. The magazine, at the time, was assembled with the tools that were available. Those tools being human determination, access to photoshop software and a theme. The content was assembled by the founder, organized on their own and finalized by an external design team.
The upside is that Startup Magazine had access to people running successful business ventures (ala Chaaye Khaana, Nayatel, etc.) who were frequently collaborating with the magazine. 14 issues came out. The Downside is that the images were of questionable resolution, the in-house articles had significant proof-reading issues and that the magazine cost much more than it was worth. Upon the termination of the print magazine
Despite discussions on going fully digital, actions were not taken until the world coldly escorted print out of the building and all that was left was the title of Pakistan’s 1st Entrepreneurship magazine. In the years Startup Magazine remained dormant, the world continued to expand its digital footprint and the demand for in-depth startup information never dwindled. Bringing us to today. We are confident that the lessons learned are crucial and that there are numerous more to learn. However, we are braving the seas not on a boat built exclusively with confidence. Rather, our vessel is constructed using the right materials, tools, and we are confident in our maps. Because we have learned from failure.
We opt for the name StartupMagazines, because we are both print and digital. Just like Netflix and their still surviving DVD business, we are keeping the print edition alive and at its former frequency of 6 issues/year. The vision is to create a product with the deepest insight into entrepreneurship and all its facets, good and bad. We cannot just stand as cheerleaders for successes alone. We must also stand in respect for the fallen, for they have carved the path we now walk. Keep in mind that fear of failure is unhealthy, especially if it evolves into a fear of being called a failure and you begin avoiding criticism.
I am Adi Abdurab, and this is my first post as Editor, I am disproportionately giddy.