So in mid-2015, after 4 long years, I decided to close my startup down.
The company in question was VIDA. A payment card for international travellers to load and reload different currencies onto a single payment card. Looking to provide cost efficiency, flexibility and transparency to an opaque, rigid and often expensive process, in a growing and global market.
We got to launch, and there were customers, there was revenue. Over 1,000 cardholders. But it wasn’t enough.
At the end of the day the buck always stops with the founder, he is the one who makes the final decision to give up. It’s never black and white, there are always options; pivot or perspiration. Mine is based on consolidation and focus, realising that the timing was not right for this particular project and to move on.
“You never fail until you stop trying”
The barriers to starting a company are getting lower and lower. As more and more companies open and close, there will naturally become more domicile URL’s and services. Services that people sunk years of their life into; blood, sweat and tears (literally in the case of all three for me with VIDA).
So rather than simply turn off the lights, and forget about the lessons learnt, the vision, the pitch, the research – the opportunity.
I’ve decided to try something new, instead of the website being a blank 404 error page, I’m going to leave a legacy for this company, not in the form of a shrine, but an opportunity, for another entrepreneur to bring this vision to life when the timing is right.
Statistics predict that 90% of startups fail, but just because a company fails, doesn’t mean it was a ‘bad idea’, or that the market wasn’t there.
There are lots of moving parts to creating a successful startup, and unfortunately a lot of them are out of your hands.
“Starting a company is like jumping out of a plane and assembling your parachute on the way down”
Reid Hoffman (Founder, LinkedIn)
As I mentioned during the intro, VIDA was a prepaid card for international travellers to load and reload different currencies onto a single payment card, all controlled via mobile app. I was also developing a social element which would use spend and phone data (photos, GPS) to curate your trip.
I got nowhere near my vision, and that’s what hurts the most. I’ve now moved on to other projects, but this opportunity still feels real.
At the time I thought you had to launch the prepaid card first, although in retrospect, maybe you can just sync your existing bank card to the application? And look to pull the payment data from a Card Linked Offer (CLO) service. Maybe the ability to load and reload different currencies isn’t the 1.0 version and can be introduced later?
The card acts as an enabler to the app. Once the app is in use then users are naturally creating data. Once the data is collected, it can then be personally curated and shared. Much more interesting and interactive than a facebook photo album.
The whole ecosystem works in harmony, and it does so without you having to be proactive. The user just focuses on travel, discovery, new experiences and having fun.
As I write this I sit here smiling. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is not going to be me that makes this project a reality, but smiling in that I still think it’s a beautiful vision and could be a fantastic product, I’m also smiling because it’s made me think about my travel experiences and adventures, and that feeling is priceless.
I really hope some people do read this and want to pick this project up.
I would be more than happy to give advice, on the pitfalls of the past as well as what I think could be done in the future.
It really could be the most amazing project.
For more information – http://www.vida-card.com