FailCon: Feel the Fear

Failure. We all experience it and yet we don’t often speak about it. It is not easy to admit our mistakes and speaking about them publicly is probably the last thing we would like to be doing. And yet, failure is an important part of success. One does not exist without the other. Failure is the teacher that shows us the better way. Well, unlike all of the other conferences I have been to so far, this is exactly what FailCon is all about. 

A small group of us SVIPs went together, as the theme of the conference ties closely with the theme of the Programme.


As each speaker has told their own mistake riddled story, I could not help but be reassured. I was reassured in that whatever I’ll try to do over the next few months, should I fail, it will not prevent me from trying again and being successful. But the focus has to be on being proactive and trying. 

Rather than give a shorter version of each of the speakers’ stories I will focus on my takeaways from each one. Below I include their names and the titles of their talks. As always links to the social media are provided. Don’t hesitate to follow these incredible people!

Miki Johnson and Jackson Solway – From 2 Founders to 6, Then Back Again

  • If you want stability get a real job.
  • You can be a co-founder or an employee. Not both.
  • You can go after organic growth (bootstrapped) or get big fast (VC money). There is different logic for each one but you can’t try to be both. So decide before you start.

Anamaria Nino-Murcia – Survive Your Fundraising Train Wrecks

  • When talking to VC’s gauge how much they know about your industry. If they are not very knowledgeable, educate them about why this market is important. You are the expert after all. Otherwise you can have deeper conversations about what the next trends are and what is missing.
  • Have something to do when there is a downward spiral pattern in the meeting. Even if it means going to the toilet and coming back to capture the room.
  • Position yourself in a way that you are focused on the vision. You don’t need their money and it will come in regardless.
  • My job is to get to no’s as soon as possible. The may be’s I keep them warm. If I get a yes, I’ll use that to get more investment (“I can’t say the name but someone just invested $10M, would you like to help me close the round?”)

Victor Lombardi – Why We Fail

  • Design != experience

Michael Freeman – First Aid for Failure

  • Your netwoth is different from your self worth.
  • Diversify your emotional investments.
  • Entrepreneurs have a need for autonomy.

Jonathan Hoyt – Success Forgets Failure

  • What would you speak with a mentor about? Everything you are struggling with, be really honest with them and ask them for insight. Let them give you their opinion from an external point of view.
  • If there isn’t anything you are struggling with, you are not trying hard enough.

Perhaps the moment of biggest learning for me came right at the end when I stood up to take part in the interactive coaching session with Marcy Swenson and Dale Larson from Startup Happiness. I walked up to the microphone, while everyone in the room was watching, and had a chat with both of them. Their technique involved asking very directed questions, which combined with the attention of a large group of people worked very well. I concluded that I need to listen to my gut more in daily situations and the way I can go about doing that is by taking time to reflect throughout the day. 


It was scary standing up in front of everyone like that and having a very personal conversation. But I enjoyed it! I remember right before I almost backed out I thought to myself: feel the fear and do it anyway.

Here is a short film, put together by Google, using some of the photos that I took and the little footage of me speaking with Marcy and Dale.

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