5 tips on how to fall with grace (by Barbara Maim)

In Startup Learnings by Sébastien FluryLeave a Comment

Last week was the Global Entrepreneurship Week and EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne) finally joined the movement this year. What an event! The team behind the event (Aurélie, Yann) had organized a very cool program over 3 days – congratulations, it was a success!

On Thursday evening, the theme was “Fail, Learn and Succeed”. 6 speakers (from VC to corporate manager to serial entrepreneurs) shared their personal experience regarding failure.One presentation that I particularly liked (but all were wonderful, except maybe one from the corporate manager, which was maybe hard to follow) was the one of Barbara Maim. She was also Venture Leader (in 2009), I’ve been following her startup journey almost from the start and we have been friend from this time. She shared her experience with Minsh (a startup she created with her now husband Jonathan back during her Phd – Minsh was a gamified way to discover and interact with other twitter users and materialized with avatars (fishes) in an aquarium), and you can find the slides here.

The 5 key points on how to fall with grace were:

  1. Gear Up! For instance, pay yourself a decent salary. At least on paper! If you have to go to unemployment once your startup failed, the salary you’ve paid yourself will be determining (at least in Switzerland).
  2. Prepare the ground. Be ready to fail.
  3. Brace yourself. Barbara realized how the startup world is unknown from many people as she explained her journey, and her interlocutor was carefully taking a lot of notes… writing “star-top” (and not start-up!). You’ve probably already experienced this (people don’t get the point of what you’re doing), too – isn’t it? Branding yourself (in your CV) as a startuper to find a corporate job is raising more questions than exciting your potential employers (at least in Switzerland).
  4. Get Back Up (very quickly)! If you fail, it’s not the time to complain. Find a job. Any job. To pay the bills. To recover…
  5. Start again! “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”

Barbara quickly realized that the corporate world (she has taken a job) was not for her. Together with her partner Jonathan, they have decided to move to Bangalore, India. And start again!

The presentation of Barbara was very gracious and humble. She did a great job telling what many people do not want to share openly. Congratulations Barbara!