I Failed

Posted on Aug 4, 2008 - 6:31 PM PST

What failed: I tried to make Mixergy.com into an invitation Web site to take on evite, and I failed. After spending lots of money and countless hours, I didn’t get the traction I expected.

What worked: The events that I organized have been successful. I’ll continue organizing them. Keep checking back here to find out about new events.

What’s new: To keep from having a big failure like this ever again, I’m going to become a learning machine. I’m going to do more interviews with Web leaders and post them here.

This has been hard for me to post on the Web, but I think it’s important to be open.

  • http://twitter.com/hdunce Heather

    well if it makes you feel any better, i’ve been watching/listening to your stuff here and i really enjoy it. have a great bike ride!

  • http://mockingbirdacres.com/ JoAnna

    Er, Um… I don’t think you can match up your ‘failure’ to what you state Mixergy is: “We organize events and do interviews for people who build revolutionary Web businesses.”

    In that light, having 300+ people clamoring to attend your events is hardly a failure. Creating a venue to introduce readers/listeners/viewers to the intelligent and interesting people you interview is far short of failure.

    Andres, you fail at failing! :-)

  • http://mockingbirdacres.com/ JoAnna

    Andres = Andrew (I fail at typing)

  • http://www.bigsake.com Kurt Daradics

    Andrew: Your candor and authenticity is refreshing. Lots of power for you to draw from as you continue on your quest for continual improvement. See you on Friday! Go Andrew Warner!!!

  • Olivia Kuhn-Lloyd

    It’s wonderful that you’re being open (albeit harsh on yourself) and choosing to learn from your experiences and the experiences of others.

    It’s interesting how we often perceive ourselves differently than others do.

  • http://yalela.org Blair Golson

    Brave post, Andrew — even in the era of radical transparency.

    I salute your efforts and still really like the idea of making networking in-person more efficient. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t inform your thinking in projects going forward.

    Onward!

  • http://www.techzulu.com Efren Toscano

    You have that great entrepreneur spirit Andrew, and you only fail if you stop trying. I and the TZ crew back you up 100% if there is anything we can help you with just let us know.

  • http://www.sophistechate.com Lisa Brewster

    I’m also in the camp of not agreeing with the whole “Mixergy failed” odor in the room. I know this post must have been hard enough to write as it is, but I’m left feeling curious about what metrics you’ve failed on, what you saw coming, and how you tried to manage those issues.

    Mixergy is the events hub of thousands of smart people, and I still see a market opportunity that isn’t quite met by other services. If there’s anything that can be done to help you keep the site alive, I’m pledging my services to help do so.

    Still, every labor of love costs more than just your time…sometimes it’s good for the spirit to move on. Best of luck in whichever new direction you choose for yourself.

  • http://www.bakitwhy.com Jeremiah Abraham

    you know i dont think it failed because everyone thats actually went to a mixergy event has enjoyed it and has kept on supporting it. you’ve helped bring together the tech and web folks and i really appreciate that. thanks for all your hard work with mixergy!

  • http://blog.heavybagmedia.com Jackie Peters

    Andrew, what you’ve done for the community here in LA is nothing short of amazing. You were one of the first on the scene getting things going. One thing I’ve learned about the startup world is that sometimes it’s necessary to be flexible and change directions, sometimes drastically, in response to the needs of the market you are serving. Failure, no. Different from the original vision? Probably. Successful or not? Maybe too soon to tell!

  • http://www.launch10.com Jamie Hiyama

    Andrew:

    I was first introduced to Mixergy because i wanted the best way to get involved in LA tech. I had always thought of Mixergy as the “Go To” for relevant tech experiences.

    We are always our biggest critics, and I’m sure you are getting tons of that but if it wasn’t for Mixergy our company wouldn’t be where we are today. I want to thank you — your failure has been an absolute success for us, it’s how we know and work with you, which has been our blessing and privileged.

  • http://firqby.tumblr.com Joel Ordesky

    Andrew,

    Sometimes on the road to one thing you discover the demand is really for something else. There was a demand for tech events (beyond the scale of my efforts with ExecTec) in driving your invite system you tapped into a larger demand for quality events.

    Do not be so dark about the fact that someone moved your cheese.

    The first step is to realize that there is more then one opportunity out there and you have the fly wheel going so now the question is what can you do with that momentum.

  • http://www.iedotnetug.org James Johnson

    Andrew…. you haven’t failed, you learned how to *not do* something. And, in the process created an entity which ton’s of people use, read, and learn from (I’m one!) each day.

    Keep on messing up! We got your back!

    James
    http://www.iedotnetug.org
    http://www.duringlunch.com

  • George Scott

    Just send out 2 million spam emails promoting your service. It will gain traction, trust me every other big company has already done it. It worked for them, they are all rich now, and no longer need to send out any spam email.

  • http://netzoo.net Andy Sternberg

    Great post / video, Andrew. It’s reassuring to see you proclaim “failure” with your head high and with your ever-fervent ambition to learn, grow, and share. Just as we shouldn’t undervalue our shortcomings, we’d be foolish to overestimate our successes.

    Mixergy never failed, per se, it just seems that perhaps your vision for what it should/could be evolved. From developing the platform to programming and hosting events to building an impressive library of interviews and moderated panels, you’re adding value, information, experiences, and enabling new collaborations and ideas all of which are above and beyond anything that a competitor of evite ever could aspire to.

    By realigning your goals and ambitions while fostering the growth of Mixergy as it evolved, you’ve done anything BUT fail.

    Keep it up!

  • http://www.cheapcheapcheap.com Albert K

    I have faith in you Andrew. Keep on pumping and let us know how we can help. We are all together in this LA tech scene.

  • http://emad.fano.us/blog/ emad

    I don’t think you’ve failed or should quit on mixergy…I think you need to rethink a few things, though. We should talk. You kno how to reach me.

  • http://victorcab.blogspot.com Victor Caballero

    No way was it a failure. I thought it was much better than any of the other evite sites out there including evite. I hope you reconsider.

    I could understand using other systems, like upcoming, facebook, etc…

    I appreciate everything you have done and are doing for our community and will follow and support you as much as possible!

    -Victor

  • Gina Johnston

    Andrew……….

    I’ll take character and the ability to ‘Man up’ – any day over what you have perceived as a failure!! I say, “it’s a stepping stone to something far better”. Isn’t the ride along the way interesting?!?!?!

    Hugs!

  • Nicole

    Andrew, this is example of one of the many reasons we all love you: you’re open, honest and strive for the best. I agree with many that I don’t view mixergy as a failure. In fact you did what most companies wish they could do, create an integrated community intertwined with your product. My hosting the events and owning the technology you put yourself in a unique position. That said, burning one’s own money is hard especially when it’s caused you anguish.

    I personally greatly appreciate your tremendous entrepreneurial spirit and the energy you put into our community to make it a stronger, smarter place. We all support anything you want to do. Look forward to many more of your awesome forums and enlightening interviews…maybe this will free you up for that TV show I think you should have… :)

    Hugs. – n

  • sumant

    you’ve only put it in hibernation. Great ideas hibernate to foster creative thought. Here’s liking forward to the next generation of your creativity :)

  • http://www.causecast.org/ Ryan Scott

    I don’t know if you failed, but you certainly found out one way not to do an evite clone. Would be interesting to find out what you think went wrong, specifically.

    I for one would like a longer video explaining what you tried, what happened… Its always instructive to do a post mortem.

  • http://www.wintertekinc.com Russell Wintner

    Andrew:

    You can’t always measure success in dollars. As others have already stated, this was hardly a failure in total and a huge success in part. Now build on that success.

    Besides, failure is a part of learning and growing and, despite it all, part of the thrill of being an entrepreneur as opposed to a cubicle grunt.

    Looking forward to your next big event.

    RW

  • Mark Pritchard

    It was Edison who said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, so I applaud your willingness to admit “failure” and keep going.

    Mixergy is a terrific tech/social network… hmmm, I wonder what you could do with that?

  • Andrew Warner

    Emad just spent 1/2 hour with me on the phone offering a dozen different ways to help me. I’ve been getting emails, tweets, and calls all day from people offering support.

    Thank you everyone. It means a lot today.

    I will continue to work to build something that solves a big problem and leaves my mark on the world.

    Ryan, I agree with you about the importance of talking about why it didn’t work. I promise I’ll do that. I’m going to think it through over the next week or two so I can give you a meaningful answer.

  • Olivia Kuhn-Lloyd

    I’m overwhelmed by this response and ever so proud of Andrew. Not only has it been apparent how much he’s impacted individuals in the community, he’s introduced me to a new way of thinking about work. For Andrew, work is passion and vision and he’s passed this on to me (and others).

    I have no doubt I’m sitting here now, that I’m looking at a great entrepreneur.

  • http://www.projectlocker.com Damon Young

    Dear Andrew,
    first of all, let me say that, above all else, I think you’re a tremendously talented, focused, and driven guy who has the respect and admiration of far more people than just those of us who choose to comment on this video. You are a force in this community, and, quite frankly, many of us (including yours truly) would not even be a part of this community if it wasn’t for you and Mixergy.

    So, if I think the real question is what is the definition of success? Or, more specifically, in your mind, what did “taking on Evite” actually mean?

    Was it simply to get more traffic than Evite? And, even within the context of traffic, was that simply more hits over a given period of time? More repeat visits? Longer stays per pageview? More ad revenue than Evite? A higher Google ranking than Evite? Because each one of these goals lends itself to a fairly different and distinct business model which would have required applying very specific and sometimes, mutually exclusive tactics.

    Or was it to create a richer, more valuable experience around invitations than Evite, i.e. to build community and foster relationships through events and invitations? In that sense, you’ve succeeded wildly – I and many others make regular visits to Mixergy.com because it’s how I touch my friends and associates, while I haven’t looked at Evite in months.

    The other thing to consider is this – the market for events and invitations has shifted tremendously in the last year because of Facebook and, to a lesser extent, MySpace. So, yes, while Mixergy is a far richer invitation experience than Evite, your community-building features are in direct competition with Facebook – they came into your market for events and invitations through the backdoor, but carried many of your users with them when they arrived.

    In short, failure is a very broad, absolute, imprecise, and, frankly, less useful term. You’ve built something of tremendous value for a lot of people. You earned enormous amounts of human capital & goodwill, which, in business, is at least as valuable as actual currency. And you’ve learned far far more than you ever could have from not having this experience.

    For the money and effort you’ve spend, you’ve grown. You’re stronger and better for it. And you’re ready for what’s next.

    Sounds like a bargain to me.

    Be proud.

  • http://www.trigeia.com Twins

    Perhaps we will understand more when you post excately what went wrong . see you on Friday.

  • http://www.launch10.com Chad Boyda

    Andrew,

    You might have failed at making Mixergy into the evite site you originally envisioned but you haven’t failed as an entrepreneur. Most successful businesses and entrepreneurs change what they originally set out to do many times before finding success.

    You clearly have a success with Mixergy and make a strong impact on many peoples’ lives. You have created something that has helped filled a void that was once an endless black hole in the Southern California Tech scene. Your events and forums are changing the way and how business happens here.

    I have no doubt that with a little thought and focus, which clearly this post is a stepping stone in, you’ll find the right direction to turn Mixergy into the whopping success that I know you as a true entrepreneur strive for. I can only wait to see the results and am glad to have been able to bear witness to your wild ride to the top. Like many of the successful entrepreneurs you interview on your blog here, I’m sure we will be watching similar videos of you one day and remembering this epiphany you had. How this realization helped you find your way to success.

    After all, that’s why we founded Launch 10. Fail fast, and find your niche.

    Best wishes to you, Mixergy, and your future endeavors.

    Chad

  • http://www.williamfernandez.com William Fernandez

    Everything up until the point that you succeed is just practice, my friend.

  • http://www.walkaboutjones.com Dann Halem

    Andrew, I don’t think you’ve failed. There’s a ton of potential in Mixergy–it’s a question of it finding its unique purpose. I see Mixergy as more of a business service. For example, if Walkabout Jones had the money to do so, I’d happily hire Mixergy to produce an event. And I think that would hold true in major cities across the country. Meanwhile, if you ever have any interest in learning the publishing business, let me know. Walkabout Jones is making progress, but ultimately it’s going to take a strong business team for it to reach its full potential as a multimedia and merchandising brand.

  • http://gammill.wordpress.com gammill

    Andrew, I must complement you on your openness. Failure is tough. Talking about it is even tougher. I now have a little more context around one of your previous post on knowing when to change direction. Being a learning machine is fun and your approach to sharing your knowledge will continue to help the community. Can’t wait to see all of your passion and energy aimed at the new mixergy.com. Btw, I don’t think mixergy was/is a failure – I actually think the product was evolving nicely. But your desire to focus your energies where they make most sense to your goals is a good call in my book. Let me know if I can do anything to help in the future. Cheers

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  • http://www.iSignature.com RogereV

    I learned long ago, the website is NOT the project.

    What IS the project is the difference it makes in people’s lives.

    The website is the tool.

    You seem to be losing a battle – but winning a war. Mixergy events are succesful. What’s missing is more of you, more specifically, leaders who create community. They don’t need websites, they just need to care.

    That said, websites can help.

    Also, a plane before liftoff spends more energy for less results…once airborne, the reduced friction allow fuel expenditure to drop quickly with increased results.

  • http://cnet.com Michelle

    This is so refreshing, and it’s one of the things I love about the tech world: admitting that you’ve failed isn’t the end, it’s just a new beginning. And your next venture is richer for having failed on this one.

    That said, I also agree with others here who say that Mixergy is hardly a failure. Perhaps it’s failed to be the “Evite killer” you originally intended, but it has evolved into something with tremendous value for the community around it–and tremendous potential for continued evolution.

  • Scott Witt

    A few thoughts by some great minds on the subject of Failure.

    I have not failed.
    I have simply found 10,000 ways that do not work.
    - Thomas Edison

    If you want to succeed,
    double your failure rate.
    - Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM

    Your best teacher is your last mistake.
    - Ralph Nader

    Success is going from failure to failure
    without losing your enthusiasm.
    - Winston Churchill

    You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.
    - Frank Gehry

    Everything is always impossible before it works.
    - Hunt Green, VC

    PayPal co-founder Max Levchin’s thoughts on Failure:

    http://www.tieconsouthwest.org/MP3s/MaxLevchin,%202006,%20edited%20-%2048kb.mp3

  • http://www.totspot.com Michael Broukhim

    A little late in joining the chorus, but Andrew, I agree with the many who see Mixergy as anything but a failure. Your events have been fantastic, and I’m glad to hear you’ll be keeping them going. You may not be going toe-to-toe with Evite right now with Mixergy, but you’ve certainly built something of value in its own right.

    TotSpot will be making LA its home soon, and its in no small part thanks to the warmness and welcoming community we’ve found, much of which we’ve stumbled on through Mixergy.

    Good luck on your journey forward!

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  • http://www.yellowbot.com Vani Raja

    Short on time here, but ditto what Jamie Hiyama & Chad Boyda said; without you & Mixergy, the LA tech scene would still be scrambled around between services like evite, meetup, upcoming, etc. It’s been a great resource to the local community and I still think there’s hope for it, but either way, you’re one hell of an entrepreneur. :-)

  • http://www.jmix.com Mark Epstein

    Andrew:

    I’ve enjoyed the Lunch 2.0 events I’ve attended in San Diego. And I’ve been learning from the videos you have posted. Please keep posting videos and organizing events!

    Seems to me Mixergy is getting some good traction going…

  • http://www.brimdeforest.com Brady Brim-DeForest

    Andrew,

    I would argue that Mixery has been anything but a failure. Over the last half a year, the Mixergy event listings has been my number one source for all LA related tech events. I will be sorry to see it go.

    You are an extremely important part of this community Andrew, and I look forward to all the great things I’m sure you will be doing now and in the future.

    See you at the next Mixergy event,
    Brady

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  • http://www.inqbation.com Blake Newman, dc web designer

    Andrew, you will alway remain a killer networker in my book, I continue to be impressed by the crowd you generated for that Los Angeles SEO forum you hosted in the summer of ’08. You packed that house man!

    As many of your other friends and admirers have implied, we don’t learn much from our successes. And, you don’t hear about Babe Ruth’s record for the number of times he struck out, only the number of times he scored home runs.

    Even Chael Sonnen, world extreme cagefighter (WEC) with a record of 22-9-1, said the other day that he was going to give one of his undefeated opponents one of the best lessons in life, defeat. He was right.

  • http://www.blogtalkradio.com/awakenings michele

    hi andrew,
    flowed into your site; and i can’t even say how…or what the thread was.

    thanx for your honesty re: your “redirection of focus/energy”….you term it as failure…..

    well, i, personally don’t believe in failure….. there is a trend or pattern that can be charted or read “the converging flow” where people, insights, ideas, innovations, etc can be seen to ‘crop up’ at seemingly random times.
    well, they aren’t so random. they are synchronisitic and feed into the converging flow or synchronistic flow of what is most life enhancing for a person, company or innovation.
    the synchronistic flow or converging flow is based on what is truly needed in a group, society, nation or on a universal level for an upshifting or up leveling of growth & to organically assist in evolution.
    the ideas that fit into this flow or evolutionary process are the ones that are ‘successful’ in the fullest sense.
    in my humble opinion – your new site & focus does this. :-)
    you can step into or flow into this flow by following the openings….. the proverbial one door closes another door opens, or window, or crack…..

    your door has opened & obviously you listened to your gut & stepped thru.

    i have listened to about 3 interviews/dialogues & watch the seth godin video tonight….

    great stuff, great creation/innovation you have here.
    you are really filling a need.

    i am in the middle of a couple of internet projects & i got some great info here.
    i also spent a lot of time learning sound editing & recording for one of my media projects so i could appreciate your “get the seth godin video up & running anyway you can” mode….all fun….all creative…& all in living in a place of abundance….the converging flow

    glad i flowed in.

    :-)

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  • http://www.persuasive.net AJ Kumar

    Fail forward fast. Every time you fail, you are 1 step closer to success. And besides, you got to dig through the dirt, before you find the gold.

    This was several months ago, so I’m sure you doing just fine ;)

  • http://startup.supercoolschool.com Ramin

    Very few people are able to fail that big in the first place.
    And of those who do, even fewer would be willing to admit it publicly the way you did.
    I think that puts you somewhere in the top two percent of the worlds winners.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Thanks. It was hard to admit, but looking back, it's one of the best
    decisions I've made.

    2009/4/19 Disqus <>

  • Gerry Sun

    Good job! Andrew. I remember about your “invitation” project. Social networking is the way to go — reflecting the concept of “Mixergy” — the nature of your business.

  • http://mixergy.com AndrewWarner

    Thanks Gerry. You saw me as I dealt with the anxiety and frustration of that
    site. Must have been
    something for you to deal with the ball of stress that I was at the time.
    Love to hear what you're up to sometime.

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