How Desperation Caused My First Startup To Fail

Note: This is an update of an article I wrote a few years ago on a blog I shut down.

In 2002, I unsuccessfully attempted to start a digital lifestyle magazine for Black golf enthusiasts called, Seven Under. To this day, when I mention the project to someone, the response I usually get is, “that sounds like an interesting idea, why did it fail?”

It took me several years to come up with the real answer to that question.

The over-simplified answers are:

  1. My partner and I lacked previous publishing experience. We were still novices in terms of having no clue about important aspects like network architecture that play a crucial role for so many enterprises. I vowed never to make this mistake again!
  2. We didn’t have enough money to have a real shot at success.
  3. The timing was bad because Vanguarde Media, which, at that time, was a dominant player in the Black Magazine space, just filed for bankruptcy. And advertisers were not keen on a new publication in the same category.
  4. We were ahead of our time with plans to launch a digital-only version of the magazine in a pre iPad-era.

While there is truth in all those answers, none of them is the real truth. The real reason the magazine failed is because I was too desperate.

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