What Failure Really Feels Like

I just read an amazing post from Nikki Durkin, the founder and CEO of 99dresses.

It’s titled My startup failed, and this is what it feels like and it is one of the best posts I’ve ever read about startup failure.

I almost titled this post “What Failure Tastes and Smells Like” because Nikki does such an awesome job of describing not just what happened, but what she felt throughout the process. The post is long and goes through multiple ups and downs, just like a startup. It covers four years, several near death experiences, recoveries, and then final failure.

I don’t know Nikki but have immense respect for her taking the chance to put this out there. In today’s world of “look how great we are doing”, we know we all aren’t doing great. It’s fucking hard to fail, deal with failure, and recover from failure, especially when you look around and feel like you are the only failure.

Nikki – if you ever want to turn this, and other lessons you learned from this experience into a book (as you hint near the end of the post), my friends at FG Press would love to talk to you about working with you on it.

  • Lovely post indeed.

    We just shared a post sharing our troubles with the Real Leaders project (thank you for interviewing with us, Brad) and a teammate mentioned that people she knew had said the post was very negative – http://realleaders.tv/yeah-we-quit/. And, of course, we didn’t feel anywhere close to the pain Nikki felt as we were strictly a weekend project.

    It’s amazing how failure is so taboo.

  • ObjectMethodology.com

    “especially when you look around and feel like you are the only failure”
    If anyone is feeling like they are the only failure. They can get in touch with me. I fail at one thing or another every day. BTW… Did I mention I’m selling most of the time?

  • Anthony Giallourakis

    There is great art in being able to connect the right dots. By reaching out to someone in this manner and offering to help pull the lemon-aid stand (with her) you create great art and more. From this vantage point, you have every claim on the phrase “be optimistic” because you exemplify the win-win scenario so well (which helps enable many shared positive futures). Thank you Brad.

  • JCN

    Let’s see….. A teenager graduates from high school halfway around the globe, figures out a way to build an online business in a competitive space, get some media buzz for her company, apply for and get a visa, move to NYC with 4 suitcases, gain some traction but run out of runway. Nikki Durkin has done more in 4 years than most people have done in a lifetime.

  • Nikki Durkin

    Thanks for the lovely post about my post, Brad. I’m seriously humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and sharing of similar stories from other founders. I just shared the post with my friends thinking that would be the end of it, so its really refreshing to hear that its resonating with the community.

    Definitely interested in doing the book. Could you put me in touch with FG Press? Thank you!

    • Awesome – connecting you with Dane McDonald right now.