Making an omelette means cracking some eggs. Any successful project has a failure or two along the way, and equally most failures provide insights that can lead to success.
This award celebrates an individual or organisation who tried something that didn’t work out – but which provided the stepping-stone for a subsequently successful outcome.
Launched by Peter Janes in 2012, London start-up Shopa was a great idea: make shopping a social media activity and reward users with discounts on items by posting recommendations to their friends. A great idea – good enough to attract £6.5 million in funding in 2015 – but a total disaster. A year after raising the financing, Shopa was gone, a ‘Frankenstein’ crippled by conflicting management objectives and pressure to generate revenue fast that diverted the company from its essential mission. Learning from the painful experiences with Shopa, Janes resolved to do things differently and founded ShieldPay in 2016 to provide a new payment solution to solve the £88 billion fraud problem in the peer-to-peer payments industry.
The instant digital escrow solution mitigates the risk of fraud by verifying the identity of all parties, holding funds securely and only releasing them when all sides agree to proceed. All industry cynicism regarding the new player in the market vanished when ShieldPay announced a global partnership with financial services giant Visa in December 2018 to provide marketplaces and bank customers across the globe with a new secure payment option that protects them from fraudsters.
ShieldPay has since had several more significant successes, leading to a Series A funding round and a market-leading position in peer-to-peer marketplace payment security.
So, if at first you don’t succeed… try, try and try again – but only if you are prepared to learn from failure and do it differently.
Follow on Twitter: @shield_pay
On graduation from the University of California San Diego, Nick Woodman gave himself until the age of 30 to become a successful entrepreneur.
His first entrepreneurial attempt in the late 1990s was a website selling low-mark-up electronic goods. While it never got off the ground, it taught him valuable insights about distribution networks, margin structures and web design.
His next venture, funBug.com, became one of the “stickiest” websites on the internet, but it was the peak of the 2001 dot-com crash and the casual gaming and marketing platform failed to secure Series B funding.
After this failure, Woodman went surfing around Australia and Indonesia, pondering his next move. Thinking it could be the trip of a lifetime, he wanted to capture the experience for posterity and cobbled together a bodyboard strap and waterproof camera with rubber bands so he could film while riding the waves. Without realising it, he already had the makings of GoPro – a system that has transformed how the world captures and celebrates experiences.
On his return in 2002, Woodman poured himself into developing the concept. Not wanting to take outside investment, he and his future wife raised funds by selling handmade belts and jewellery out of their 1974 VW camper van and on the beaches of California, together with a small family loan.
The first GoPro camera, the 35mm HERO, came out in 2004. In the 15 years since, GoPro has sold more than 35 million HD cameras and inspired millions of people to go out and live a big life.
Follow on Twitter: @GoPro
In 2013 Fabien Mendez co-founded GoJames, a Brazilian premium taxi service for business executives, one year before Uber started operating in Brazil. It failed comprehensively, bedevilled by regulatory problems, seizures of drivers’ cars and – following Uber’s entry into Brazil – inability to compete with the global giant.
Noticing the massive influx of motorcycles onto the streets of São Paulo, Mendez wondered if there was a new business opportunity here. The city is notorious for its traffic jams, making transport of light goods over medium distances much quicker and cheaper by motorbike than by car. Moreover, Mendez realised that the essential processes in his previous business model – payment, tracking and scheduling – could be optimised in the new one.
Loggi (it hints at “logistics”) was born, and is revolutionising the courier industry in Brazil with a delivery logistics platform that matches motorcycle couriers with businesses and individuals. Launched as a document delivery service in 2014, it has expanded rapidly to manage a wide range of delivery options, from takeaway food to daily deliveries for Latin America’s largest e-commerce companies, such as Dafiti and MercadoLibre. Currently making three million deliveries per month across 73 cities, and with more than 25,000 motorcycle and van drivers in its fleet, its success has reportedly pushed its valuation above $1billion.
GoJames may have failed to hit the ground running, but Loggi has been little short of a runaway success.
Follow on Twitter: @loggibrasil
Alejandro Artacho’s first ventures were in China, where he set up an olive oil trading company and a travel agency for Chinese nationals visiting Spain. After three years experiencing the ups and downs of the Chinese market, he decided to focus on the tech
After returning to Spain, Alejandro studied Management and Business at IE Business School. During this time, together with Bryan McEire, they developed another project with the idea “to make the world a smaller place where it would be possible to find a job anywhere”. They pitched their proposal at tech events, and were rejected by a total of 180 incubators.
Admitting defeat, Alejandro moved to London and later Lisbon to work in the real estate sector. From this experience and his personal experience of moving four times between neighbourhoods during his time in Beijing, he recognised how much time, effort and money people invested in searching for rental properties and how there was an immediate need to digitalise the process.
He returned to Madrid and together with Bryan McEire, Bruno Bianchi and Hugo Monteiro, he perfected the idea of making every task in the property rental market digital, and they then launched the online booking platform Spotahome in 2014. The app makes the rental process easier and has grown rapidly by championing the reinvention of real estate to make it transparent, instant and exciting - love at last.
Alejandro has raised $72 million to date for a business that hosts properties across 11 European cities. But, despite his success, Alejandro refuses to rest on his laurels – not until he has made renting as quick and easy as ordering a pizza. Or a Chinese takeaway…
Follow on Twitter: @Spotahome