Solved Why Startups Fail: A Postmortem For Flud, The Social Newsreader


Get the latest Pointer on Mobile Phones:

In late July, information broke that Flud, the social information reader for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, was visited the deadpool. Startup failure is an all-too familiar, even cliche, story in Silicon Valley. However when San Diegoan co-founders Bobby Ghoshal and Matthew Ausonio formally shuttered the Flud app and internet site in August, after 3 years of development, it was a disappointing last chapter for an item that’d actually drawn in more buzz in a year than the average startup sees in its whole lifecycle.

It was likewise an unusual conclusion, thinking about that Flud had actually managed to raise $2.1 million in seed funding from investors Detroit Endeavor Partners, Ludlow Ventures, Behance co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Scott Belsky and JFJF Ventures, to name a few. In addition, reports circulated last year that FLUD was continuing to see interest from investors and was in the procedure of raising approximately $8 million in brand-new funding.

But Flud never closed on the round and today, the startup is no more. In fact exactly what eventually killed Flud, was that the company hadn’t been able to raise this additional financing. Despite several techniques and versions – consisting of a pivot toward business – in pursuit of the ever evasive product-market fit (and monetization), Flud ultimately ran out of money – and a runway.

To date, the creators have yet to speak openly in any information about Flud’s closure and why the company did not0 able to turn an appealing start into popularity and fortune. Recently we caught up with Ghoshal, who enthusiastically agreed to peel back the curtain and provide a little a postmortem on Flud- for sake of explanation and, obviously, edification.

Startups are difficult – do not let any individual tell you in a different way – and everyone fails. Some just discover to fail better than others, and that’s what makes the distinction.

Flud’s tale has much in common with another recent casualty in the mobile space: Finder. In a current post on Medium (which is a must-read for all business owners, investors and startup peeps), previous Sonar co-founder and CEO, Brett Martin, offered insight into why his own mobile, location-based startup went bye-bye.

Sonar and Flud were both downloaded by millions of individuals, were promoted by Apple and Google, raised several millions and got high praise from the media – and yet you know how both tales ended.


As Paul Graham has famously said, one of the secrets to developing an effective startup is not necessarily having a brilliant idea, however to ‘make something that individuals in fact want.’ When Ghoshal and Ausonio began establishing the concept for Flud in the summertime of 2010, their huge vision was to develop an item that did not2 just be another RSS-based news reader or social magazine, however a real social news ecosystem (and a design-centric, i.e. visual, one at that) – an ‘Instagram for information,’ if you will.

While it’s simple to state, as an armchair observer, that part of the reason Flud failed was because the marketplace was already saturated by comparable items and the competition was too strong. After all, when Flud introduced its very first app for the iPad in August 2010, Flipboard and Pulse were already reputable, had countless users and mainly dominated mindshare in the newsreader market.

flud-messagesPlus, Flud had to work against the unpredictable, unpredictable and ever-evolving relationship individuals have with news and information usage devices. They always say they want a better newsreader, want to attempt something new, but then they stick like pocket lint to exactly what’s familiar. Take a look at exactly what happened with Google Reader: Most digitally-savvy people appeared to agree that, while Google and RSS were fantasti-awesome for many years, eventually smarter, real-time devices offered greener pastures. Apparently in agreement, Google started dismantling the service in 2011, lastly turning it off this summertime, and, of course, the Web went bananas. It was as if Google had actually just shut off their electrical energy and punched their mother in the face.

But, actually, when Flud introduced its iPhone app in December 2010, there was plenty of demand for a ‘much better’ means to consume the news – in fact, there still is. As an image of this, when we talked to Ghoshal at the end of December, the app was ‘including a new user every 4 seconds.’

It’s also why (a minimum of in theory) Flud struck a chord with the media: Fast Business put its iPhone app among the ‘Best UI Designs’ of 2010 and dubbed it ‘the future of news.’ Hell, even some individual named Slit Empson (I know, ideal?) said Flud might develop itself as a ‘force to be reckoned with’ in the news field.

In review, it’s quite noticeable that we were, in a word, ‘not specifically correct.’ (Hi there, even the very best get it wrong occasionally, right people? Right? Hello?) Nevertheless, and obviously with a little of my own, requisite defensiveness, the demand for a much better newsreader existed. And, going one step additionally, I ‘d say that the preliminary vision behind Flud – the vision of developing a full-service, design-friendly social information ecosystem – had appeal. And still does.

Just ask the big social networks. Today, Facebook is in the procedure of developing its own social newsreader as it inches into territory where Flipboard, Pulse and Feedly are perhaps still the best alternatives, if not the best-known names. In regard to Pulse, LinkedIn got the popular newsreader for $90 million earlier this year to assist it establish its own content center and news reading strategy. Not just did LinkedIn think it was worth $90 million, however has keepinged the apps alive in spite of the acquisition (and overlap) and continues to upgrade them.


In his post on Medium, Brett Martin details the results of Sonar stressing too much about rivals, like Highlight, Banjo and a host of others. Like Sonar, Ghoshal says that there was constantly sound about how well Flipboard and Pulse were doing, however it was constantly more mental. In the end, you can’t let exactly what other companies are doing drive the direction of your business – the more you let them into your head, the worse it gets.

Instead, if a start-up is fortunate enough to hit on an idea or a product that users actually want to use, what’s far more vital than what the competitors is doing is comprehending what customers really want and narrowing the gap between what clients want, exactly what parts of the product they are in fact utilizing and what your item’s functionality/feature set as it exists at the time.


Do not waste too much time fretting about press and protection. If you build an excellent product, press will come – take it from me, I am a physician. Then once again, Ghoshal tells us, believe in your item and vision enough so that did not3 not shocked by press if it does come, therefore that you’ll prepare.

Ghoshal states that, leading up to Flud’s launch of the app three years back, he and his co-founder were dealing with it part-time. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say, but in part due to the fact that they did not anticipate to obtain any press and had not done a press-fueled launch before, little problems at the start grew out of control rapidly.

Flud was fortunate sufficient to obtain a lots of press around its early product launches. Nevertheless, from then on, when the group would launch a brand-new item, they’d reflexively pursue press, Ghoshal says. They’d get press, users would overload the app, the system crashed, and when they finally got it back up, there were still a lot of bugs left, and, in a world of eleventy billion apps, people tend not to be rather ruthless of glitchy user experiences. (As they should, by the means.)

The Flud CEO then concluded, laughing: ‘Among the most crucial things I discovered,’ Ghoshal states, giggling, ‘is that when you introduce a brand-new item – specifically if it’s some real ‘novelty’ to it – the best thing you can do is stopped talking about it.’

Test, Test And Test Again

‘We actually did not check the initial item enough,’ Ghoshal states. The group pulled the trigger on its initial launches without a considerable beta period and without spending a great deal of time running QA, circumstance screening, task-based screening and the like. When v1.0 introduced, problems and bugs swiftly started raising their head (as they always do), making for delays and laggy user experiences aplenty – something we even pointed out in our early coverage.

Not offering sufficient time to tension and load screening or leaving it up until the last minute is something start-ups are known for – specifically real of little teams – but it means things have the tendency to get pretty tricky at scale, especially if you begin adding a user every four seconds.

Ghoshal likewise says that what testing they’d actually done was too slim in scope: ‘We likewise had not checked our presumptions on what people would care most about in a newsreader – we knew that they ‘d wish to share with pals after checking out something, however we did not think they cared about things like impact. They did, and by the time we included that, some individuals had actually already moved on.’

This connects to the advice above: Know exactly what your customers desire and how they are making use of the app, and as Brett Martin states, enhance for actual user behavior and, as much as possible, focus on getting rid of friction from their existing habits. Not concentrating on even more abstract things, like tech or a fantastic set of APIs.


It’s Hard To Recover When Things Start To Spiral

Flud was too worried with press and not concerned enough with testing new functions beyond a couple of trusted individuals, he says. And, after that, ‘things spiraled very quickly, since our new users heard about the bad experience from early users, testimonials did not assist, so we lost a lot of mindshare.’

Even after Flud added much-needed features like email notifications to its early product, it was late, he said. ‘It’s really difficult to recuperate from that very early spiral.’ In response to these early issues, the team went heads-down to focus on reconstructing the tech side of Flud, while its competitors focused on user acquisition, the CEO states. However this was a reflexive choice, and it caused Flud going too far in that direction.

As Martin states of Sonar’s experience, for start-ups, there’s a continuous, internal fight over whether to focus on development or engagement, and the best ways to balance the two. However, if a startup is building a social item, he says, growth is what’s crucial – engagement does not matter. Ghoshal’s account echoes that of Finder – perhaps not unexpected considering Flud was essentially attempting to reimagine what a social network must be in the context of information consumption.

In the long term, the Flud Chief Executive Officer thinks that the team did ultimately be successful in constructing a far better product on the tech side, however when it came time to raise capital, ‘investors do not want to buy a third-tier newsreader.’ To Martin’s point – all they cared about was development. And since of it’s very early battles, Flud had a steeper hillside to climb thanks to plateau-ing user adoption.

Figuring Out When, And How To Pivot (Listen To Feedback)

Once Flud saw that investors were balking at its consumer item, it had to take stock in the business. The group swiftly understood that money was getting tight and it needed to move rapidly to find a brand-new market where consumers would pay – in shorts, where it could develop a genuine business.

Early on, Ghoshal said, a variety of business players had actually reached out to the business, stating things like, ‘even though Flud is a consumer item, our executives just purchased iPads, and they wish to use the app, however they need to utilize it behind a firewall software.’ Essentially, these companies desired Flud to construct a white label product, keeping the user experience the exact same, but optimizing it for ‘huge business’ use cases.

At the time, Ghoshal states, he did not see the opportunity, so Flud declined those opportunities. But when it came time to rotate, they returned to those preliminary leads and found the need was unmodified. Flud moved swiftly to introduce a new venture variation, which launched in December of last year with 1,500 business on its delay list.

There’s Always Business, Right?

Impressively, in the four-plus months that its enterprise product was live, the four-person team was able to generate about $500K in reservations. Nevertheless, the team hadn’t provided itself adequate time – it went out time and money prior to it can actually get the ball rolling in any considerable method.

In spite of Flud’s failure, Ghoshal thinks that there’s still a huge chance for a ‘consumerized,’ social, news-sharing network for medium-sized and companies. ‘The venture is starving for a product like this,’ the Chief Executive Officer says, ‘and it’s something not many are discussing. Big business have a content sharing trouble that Yammer is not effectively solving.’

These companies wish to provide a product with which workers can check out content about their clients, together with internal information and content shared by executives and managers. They want to be able to track what people are reading and offer much better, more tailored content.

‘There’s a big opportunity for a product that provides businesses, particularly venture companies, a much better way to check out, share and syndicate content internally,’ the Flud co-founder informs us. While Flud began to do just that, it also encountered problems that any consumer-facing start-up moving to target the venture has to take care of, and it did not have the resources to persevere.

As numerous know, Ghoshal says, building an item for the venture is a pricey recommendation and startups have to make business development hires, handle the hand-holding and time required to work out the more intricate integration procedures in venture – not to mention the capital needs that originate from dealing with longer sales cycles.

In completion, though it was seeing encouraging data from its very early consumers and had nibbles of interest from investors, ‘they all wanted to see three to 6 months worth of information, however we just had two months worth,’ Ghoshal described. Investors wanted to see more validation, which Flud did not have, and that, in the end, is what finally killed the company.

Moving On

The decision to shut down or offer a company is a nerve-racking, white-knuckled process to the last minute. The procedure is intense, and leaves numerous in bad types. While one would assume that it would be difficult for workers and founders to proceed to the next chance, as soon as there’s finality, it can be a lot much easier to move on.

The whole Flud team has moved on to different tasks, and Ghoshal states he’s beginning to deal with his next start-up, though he’s not ready to talk about exactly what that’s just yet. In the meantime, the founders are in the procedure of looking for a buyer for Flud’s properties and are in conversations with numerous prospective acquirers.

His suggestions to start-ups on what to try to find in a prospective acquirer? ‘I believe for a lot of, it’s a matter of figuring out which business would benefit the most from your item,’ he says. ‘It’s probably evident, however the business that’s going to give you the best value is the one that wants to sell the item right away … and is not really going to simply give you cash and then shut it down.’

For more, take a look at Brett Martin’s postmortem on Sonar here, and for another great (postmortem) read, look into Mark Hendrickson’s post on Plancast. While the failure rate of start-ups has not changed, it’s excellent to see that more business owners and startup peeps want to admit that it’s taken place to them and share exactly what they discovered so that others – when they do fail – at least did not1 make the exact same errors.

Judul: Solved Why Startups Fail: A Postmortem For Flud, The Social Newsreader ; Ditulis oleh Princes Syahrini ; Rating Blog: 5 dari 5