This interview series is not like any other one, this is something different. Yes, we do take real interviews from real, successful Entrepreneurs but still, different. No, it’s not like we’re using new technology, like a holographic interview or something. What we’re doing is to know how these most successful Entrepreneurs, once FAILED.

Me (Praveen) at Live Chat Ninjas, want to bring those dark days on the screen. Why? because, I failed once, badly! with my first startup and at that time, there is nothing like this to tell me, to educate me not to make the mistakes I’ve done with my startup. I wish I could find something like this back then. I want the young, aspiring entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs to understand this, “Failure is inevitable. Embarrass it“.

Why again? Because everyone talks about success, but no one about failure. Everyone will fail, right? You, me and that startup who raised a million dollars, failed once, at least with raising the money. Well, obviously these successful entrepreneurs whom we consider as our role-models should have definitely failed.

I want to interview 100 successful entrepreneurs and talk about their failure. What did they start? How did they fail? How did they feel in those dark days? and how they got this cool idea while being depressed and managed to succeed. We do talk about how they managed to get their first 5 customers after their recovery, biggest mistakes they’ve done being an Entrepreneur, techniques they’ve implemented to succeed with their online business and much more.

We believe the stories of these people will help today’s aspiring entrepreneurs and Wannapreneurs to save themselves from the most obvious mistakes done by 100 entrepreneurs in their lives.

Welcome to “The Failure Story”

Dan Norris, WPCurve.com

Our first interview starts with Dan Norris. I personally know Dan and his story, he struggled for 14 years before starting his successful company WPCurve. WPCurve is like an insurance for your WordPress website, you get unlimited WordPress bug fixes at just $69/month. Dan’s from Australia started his Web design & development agency, ran it successfully but then failed. He started a SaaS product, Inform.ly, which ended as a failure too. He started WPCurve and succeeded, how? read the interview.

1. What is your first failed startup? How you’ve failed?

I created an analytics dashboard http://Inform.ly. The idea was to summarize people’s key metrics into a simple single location. I was able to make a bit of noise for it and get 4,000 free users. However, in the end, I couldn’t get enough people to pay for it. Analytics isn’t really seen as something that small business owner pays for. And I don’t think the app was giving people enough value. I paid attention to all of the vanity metrics and it took me way too long to get the paid version of the product launched. When I did, I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to have enough people use it. I spent about $60,000 and 12 months on it to build a grand total of $476 in monthly recurring revenue. That was offset by about $2,000 in monthly costs.

2. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as an entrepreneur. And what you’ve learned?

Taking too long to launch was my main mistake with Informly. It wasn’t a great idea, sure but I could have figured that out much quicker and saved myself a lot of time and money (and stress). It took me 6 months to put up a payment button on Informly and another 6 months to really come to terms with the fact that people didn’t need it. My motto now is ‘You don’t learn until you launch‘ and with WP Curve I had the exact same monthly recurring revenue after 7 days.

3. After your failure, how did you feel about your future? how did you manage those days?

I was worried, I had 2 weeks to find a job or start something else. I also had a family to support and there aren’t many jobs in my city. I was looking up jobs and considering moving back to the city near me. But I really didn’t want to take that option so I dug deep and had one last go. This time I had to launch a service because I had no time. I knew people had issues with their sites so I decided to release a service around fixing websites.

4. Is WPCurve your AH-HA! moment? or is there any inspiration behind it?

Not really! I just had to do something quickly. WP Curve solved a big problem and it did it in a unique way so I had some confidence that people would go for it, but I really didn’t know until I launched.

5. How did you get your first 5 customers?

I was active in a forum for entrepreneurs and I also had an email list. I had my first 10 customers in the first week from the forum and from an email I sent out to my list.

6. How much you got started with ($$)? How did you manage to grow?

$0 really, but I had a developer already and had an email list and some basic business stuff set up (accounting system, email system, google apps, etc). I haven’t put any money into WP Curve other than the lost wages for the first year or so of paying myself below market rates.

7. How did you growth-hacked WPCurve?

We didn’t, we just did one simple thing very well. My book, “The 7 Day Startup” talks about features of high growth ideas. Some of these include entering into a large market, focusing on recurring revenue, making sure you have a profit margin built-in, offering a unique twist on an existing idea. WP Curve does all of this pretty well.

8. What is the strangest marketing experiment you’ve ever done?

I had a site selling cheap stuff from China. I built my list by doing giveaways for iPhone screen protectors. I’d list them on OzBargain.com, my site would get smashed with traffic (and it would regularly crash) and I’d have thousands of people on my list. The problem was very few of them wanted to spend any money.

9. What techniques you’ve implemented and believed that bring success with online marketing?

Creating a lot of useful, valuable content for people over a long period of time. That and building a referable, respected brand is the only marketing we have done.

10. How do you use social media? Have you ever felt it a waste of time?

My personal Facebook page is good, I accept most friend requests and treat it more like a publishing platform. I also have Facebook groups for my 2 books, The 7 Day Startup and Content Machine. They have been an invaluable place to test ideas and build a groundswell of support for the books. I try to be generous with my time in there and when I need something in return, the group is generous to me. I use Twitter for hitting up influencers and replying to mentions etc but I’m not a heavy user.

11. What was the best piece of advice you ever got? The worst?

Best – Don’t start a business in your area of passion, instead start a business so you can spend your time on anything. When I was young I liked cars but thankfully I was talked out of becoming a mechanic. Much better to start a good business, buy some nice cars and get someone else to fix them.

Worst – Niche down. I don’t think it makes sense to go after small markets.

12. Which online tools would you consider most effect while running your business?

Infusionsoft, HelpScout, Trello, Google docs, Helloify (Helloify is my company, so I’m biased :P).

So this is how he did it. Wanna know what other successful entrepreneurs have been through? Sign-up to our newsletter and get these interviews directly to your inbox. See the Opt-in box on the right.

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