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The Other "F" Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work by John Danner, Mark Coopersmith

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img6Start-UpsLaunching Your Venture in the Land of Failure

Your Role: Passionate Convincer

Startups are like newborn lambs. Give them a chance and they will always try to find new ways to kill themselves.

—Duncan Logan, CEO and founder of startup accelerator RocketSpace

Small Failures Can Lead to Huge Success

In 2009 Kevin Systrom (soon to be joined by his co-founder Mike Krieger) raised $500,000 from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz for his new venture, Burbn. He envisioned Burbn as an iPhone app that enabled users to “check in” to locations (similar to Foursquare), make plans, post pictures, and earn points. As they prepared to launch, after more than a year of work, Kevin and Mike gave the product a thorough review and also solicited input from their beta users.

The verdict: Burbn was just too cluttered. The insight: Customers loved the photo application. Armed with this input, Systrom and Krieger simplified Burbn. “[We] basically cut everything in the Burbn app except for its photo, comment, and like capabilities. What remained was Instagram,” explains Systrom.1

Using the infrastructure and platform they'd already built for Burbn, the team created Instagram in two months. They made it easy to use and chose a distinctive square photo format similar to old Polaroid photos. Upon release in October 2010, Instagram became a huge hit on the iPhone, garnering more than 10 ...

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