Andreas
Klinger #product #metrics #marketing
Startup Lessons Learned

Follow @andreasklinger

I am a product-guy good in two things:
Making people believe I am good in anything at all and making stuff worth a tweet.

On this website I share notes & thoughts.

Why i am leaving my own company.

Fortunately I was able to tell this already to many people in person. But a quick public blog post might help to clarify and simplify things a bit.

TL;DR: After 4 years of working on LOOKK i decided it’s time to move on and leave LOOKK. I will take a month off and than (most likely) head to Berlin. It’s bittersweet leaving, because it’s the beginnings of an exciting major restructure of LOOKK.

The bigger picture a.k.a. Ambition

The main thing I learnt was that our ambition as founders was too huge and that we kicked off too many moving parts, who then in return constantly came into our way.

Though i still believe in the opportunity in this space, most of those moving parts where based on the assumptions that didn’t work on the level needed like production, prototyping, logistics, ecommerce backend, marketplaces, sketches, social curation, etc.

These moving parts stopped us from getting forward with the things that actually worked very well - e.g. connecting designers with fans, attracting fashion designers, engaging users, communitybuilding.

We needed to focus.

We wanted a radical change.

My co-founder Gilbert stepped up with a new vision and drafted a plan for a new product and company. The first phase of this new vision can be already seen on www.lookk.com.

We wanted the strategy to change together with the product. Therefore we moved away from aggressive scaling to a bootstrap attitude with focused iterations. We went as far as temporary slimming down the company to its bare minimum needed - 3 people: Gil (CEO + Product owner), Simone (Designer Acq + Marketing) and Rado (Development). The goal of this move is to focus on iterating on the core of the new product and then grow again to a larger team.

With me several other people are stepping off the payroll - Tamas, Stefan, Veselin, etc – as said we wanted to use this moment as a opportunity for radical change. Naturally all of us stay as a support network for LOOKK and be available to support Gil and the team whenever and wherever we can.

As I am one of the original co-founders of LOOKK, leaving it was - as you can guess - a hard decision to make.

Leaving your own company is a bit crazy.

As said we needed radical steps - For me it meant swallowing my own pride and accepting that my part of the business’ lifecycle failed, that perhaps I wasn’t the best guy for my job anymore and that other people in the team have better ideas and should take over the evolution of the company. Thus we turned the internal management up-side down so that the people at the top are the ones that can actually pivot the strategy.

We got enough money on the bank to sustain the company for quite some time, so these changes are not about money. It’s more about using it the best way.

In this “startup world”, when people face the fact that things don’t work out and that they are personally completely out of new ideas, they usually follow one of two options:

Run the startup against the wall or cling onto it until it’s completely dead.

For paradox reasons these options, that are easier to explain, are seen more respectable than other solutions like switching teams or returning the money. This “startup world” is a strange world sometimes, but internally we wanted to do something that felt right for the team, the opportunity and the company and not something that is easy to explain.

Me, Myself & Life

With a new strategy and management in place i had to rethink my own role…

Personally, as many of you realise, being the nerdy tech guy in the crazy fashion scene was exciting, but was always slight askew for me.

It was a great opportunity to learn and to be outside of my personal comfort zone (which is always a good thing). And also to work with very talented people with very different backgrounds, who I must thank for their constant extreme patience with me. ;)

But ultimately, my interest in fashion waned over time, though. I realised in the last months that my natural fit is more with things like media, innovation, mobile, music, realtime and rethinking how we use digital devices.

I firmly believe that the refocus at LOOK by Gil is the best thing that can happen to LOOKK, though I couldn’t see myself adding more value than I have up until now.

Even if I were to stay, I couldn’t contribute as well as a fresh new hire, given that my focus is dampened by my personal excitement for fashion waning, the fact that I’ve already used all my best ideas and simply the reason that my skills wouldn’t make me the best guy for the new upcoming job-roles in first place. The second I felt that, was a clear sign for me to move on.

What’s next…

  • I will leave London end of august.
  • I will take a timeout and try to reset my brain. If my budgets kinda keeps stable i am off to Costa Rica for a backpack trip in September.
  • Then i will move somewhere else - i consider moving to Berlin - let me know what you think about that
  • I will work on technology in web and innovation.

After many years working on Garmz and LOOKK, I will now step aside to become a keen supporter instead of a having a leading role for LOOKK 2.0 – and this feels right.

I am looking back to 4 great and exciting years.

Hit me up if you have any questions: @andreasklinger - Feel free to leave any questions on my facebook thread.

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