Around 6 months ago entrepreneurs Jay Whiting and Diesel Laws founded question and opinion app Barkles. The application allowed people to post thoughts and opinions and then users agreed or disagreed with them in an innovative and engaging form of online debate. Today unfortunately Barkles announced that they would be shutting their doors at the end of the month. The announcement made by email and via the twitter account, had some good learnings which we feel are important to all startups, so we thought we would share them with you.
“One of the main rules about starting a new startup is locking down the problem you are solving. Without a strong problem, you will have less people needing/wanting your product which will result in low traction/return rate. In many cases, Barkles was a cool solution looking for a problem – a reason for people to use it if you will. Had we of nailed down our problem before building the solution we probably wouldn’t have built Barkles in the first place”.
“Jay is very passionate about development. I am very passionate about design. Over time however we lost our joint passion for continually building Barkles when we started realising we had built a solution looking for a problem. We still enjoyed watching the debates come in and people using it on occasion – however for us to move forward and get that passion back it would require a big overhaul to the product, with the likely chance we would be pivoting far away from the product it is today. This pivot would have taken us 3-6 months to fully realise and even then we would not be any closer to working on a problem that people want solved”.
“Building a freemium product is hard to do if you have low traction and have lost passion in the product itself. Often what results is the founders redirect focus onto paying work (hey, we’ve all got to live!) which pushes the freemium product into the background of their minds. For others in this situation we recommend financially securing a ‘runway’ (a bunch of cash you live off for a set amount of months) to give yourself that focus and dedication that is needed when building a long term freemium product”.
It’s not ALL Doom and Gloom
“This process of creating a startup, getting members on board and iterating the product has been the most incredible experience. Jay and I look at the closing of Barkles as a “succesful failure“, a journey we have learnt a lot from. We have enjoyed over 1400 debates, met countless people who inspired us and now know what it’s like to run a startup. We would like to thank our advisors, mentors and other entrepreneurs who have helped up learn and grow througout this journey”.
Well Written and Well Said Jay and Diesel a lot of the times start ups just fade away and no one realises. Thanks for giving the community context around the closure and educating the startup space with your learnings! We look forward to you next ventures!
Have you ever closed up shop? What did you learn?