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Pivots...Making mistakes, & Learning - An Entrepreneurs Tale

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by Alastair Cameron

Guest Writer, Cally Russell, Founder of new business startup Mallzee, talks to Startacus about his journey and the advantages of making mistakes and then learning...

'Nothing is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different' – Einstein

A fellow young entrepreneur tweeted this quote recently and it has been stuck in my head ever since. I've been lucky enough to be in based and around lots of young companies in one office for the last 7 months and this quote rings true now more than ever as I look around the office and see less and less of the people who I started with.

Some of the companies have grown quickly and left as they have expanded and sadly some have fallen by the wayside, for one reason or another. But all of them have succeeded in my eyes by business startupthe virtue of making the jump and choosing to test their idea and believing in themselves.

From day one we have all said there is no such thing as an ugly failure. Having this support, way of thinking and the ability to know when you're wrong and to change direction without judgment or the humiliation that is normally associated with admitting you've made a mistake, especially in the UK, is game changing.

It's on this basis that I am proud to say I made a mistake!

I came into the office with a simple idea of getting people to share brands with their friends on Facebook, and Twitter, and paying them to do so - RecommendedBy. I had worked on the idea for months and managed to bring together a range of great brands to work with but we didn't make the product to match expectation. We managed to show some early results and a bit of traction but over the last 2 months I have come to realize that what we were trying to do just wasn't right. It was too simple and didn't give the user the experience they wanted, or deserved.

Under normal circumstances this would have been a hammer blow to me as a 24 year old, my ideas of being an entrepreneur and my desire to continue would have been tested but it wasn't.

Instead it has been the most crystalizing moment of the last 7 months. We pivoted; stopped doing the same thing over and over again and what we needed to build became clear very quickly. Our fundamental principal was correct, people want to recommend and strive for the social kudos associated with making those recommendations but we needed to add more. That’s when we came up with Mallzee.

Instead of just sharing the brands now we are working on systems to allow our users to create their own online mall suited entirely to their tastes. It showcases stores/brands of their choice and our software finds the products suited to their tastes. They can then shop with their friends, make recommendations and still earn money on all sales they generate.

Mallzee.com despite being several months, and a financing round away, from being a reality is already seeing great traction. We are featuring on blogs in Canada, the US, UK and Italy. People are signing up to be the first to use the site once we are ready; we have kept our range of companies and are currently in talks with two major companies about being key partners and sponsors. Plus, we’ve made a great team even better in the meantime.

Admitting what you were doing is wrong and stopping doing the same thing over and over can be seen as a sign of failure. In reality it is likely to be the best thing you can ever do, just look at the Loic Le Meur and Sesismic. They went through 4 pivots before getting it right but succeeded in the end with an exit to Hootsuite http://venturebeat.com/2012/09/05/hootsuite-acquires-seesmic-seesmic-customers-to-be-transitioned-to-hootsuite/.

Let's stop judging and criticizing those who admit to their mistakes and start embracing Einstein's words, and the pivot!

Cally Russell Is the CEO and Founder of Mallzee.com – the new way to shop online. We wish Cally all the best when Mallzee fully launches later this year.


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Published on: 13th September 2012

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