Join us for coffee as we …

Learn from one of Mike’s failed businesses

This Coffee Jam is available to view anytime if you’re taking one of our courses or add-ons. If that’s you, make sure to sign back in.

Otherwise, you can schedule your next coffee break with us » to watch it.

Meanwhile, here’s what it’s all about:

(These table of content quick links are enabled for people registered in our courses and add-ons.)

  • 0:00 – Hey buddy! How are you today?!
  • 0:15 – For all you Top Gun lovers out there!
  • 0:29 – Learning from one of Mike’s real world failed businesses – one of his “big downs”
  • 2:20 – It all started from his passion (hint: he’s a big motor sports junkie …)
  • 3:20 – How the team got together and where their idea came from (hint: it was over a beer …)
  • 4:26 – “It would be really really cool if we could video ourselves tearing around the track on our bikes!”
  • 5:20 – This was before the GoPro days but 5:30 – who wouldn’t love that?!
  • 6:07 – We believed we had a business …
  • 6:50 – In hindsight, we didn’t have the tools and approaches we needed. And we weren’t unusual in that.
  • 8:09 – Reel Rydes and how we thought it would work
  • 9:00 – We got stuck on our vision and away we went
  • 10:08 – Then we made the biggest mistake (one we now coach people about all the time): We thought everyone was our customer!
  • 11:00 – And here’s how we got way too optimistic about our earning potential, and shot ourselves in the foot right there
  • 12:07 – That was also when some pretendotyping and pretotyping could have helped us out – imagine us hard-wiring lipstick cameras to a guy’s bike!
  • 13:15 – And on top of all that, our own fear of sharing the idea was making sure we were getting no good feedback!
  • 14:06 – So we spent ($) our way to that first day on the track and there we were, making a terrible first impression …
  • 16:09 – We really could have saved ourselves a lot of the problems using even some of our simplest tools
  • 17:00 – So what would you have done differently – generally and using the tools?
  • 20:24 – We never worked on the “right it” from the beginning … you’re pivoting because you realize you’ve messed up
  • 22:26 – GoPro was opening a door, sort of, but also threatening everything
  • 23:33 – “We knew we were in trouble,” 24:02 – so we did a real time pivot …”
  • 24:03 – It was a pretty cool direction but it turned out to be a hard pivot for us – all in the name of desperately needing to be different
  • 26:12 – But our price point and the new model weren’t holding up …
  • 28:34 – In balance, I see now that a lot of it could have been avoided if we’d practiced what you and I preach today
  • 29:43 – Another pivot, even though it was a little too little too late …
  • 31:03 – It got to the point that we realized: “This is a hobby. Not a scalable business.” And the more we tried, the less we wanted to make it happen.
  • 32:26 – So upon reflection, don’t be afraid of the pre-persona, pretendotyping, pretotyping, and ‘help me break it’ mentality – embrace the goal of becoming an expert at your idea
  • 34:02 – Trust yourself but don’t fool yourself – do as much learning as you can as early as you can
  • 35:38 – Hindsight’s always 20:20, but it’s not so easy when you’re emotionally attached and wanting to will it to be successful
  • 36:19 – So how do you avoid getting sucked up in the entrepreneur hype and the dream of being another billion-dollar Dollar Shave Club story? (Hint: It’s all about accelerating your learning and proceeding at a smart, even decelerated, pace)
  • 38:06 – Especially if you’ve sucked others in with you, e.g. financially?
  • 39:20 – Mike’s key takeaways – What did we find out the hard way that we could have found out during the pretotyping / value proposition / Idea Maker stage:
    • 40:17 – 1. Nobody wanted to pay!
    • 40:55 – 2. The substitutes and alternatives were compelling!
    • 41:18 – 3. The motorcycle season here in Canada is pretty short!
    • 41:26 – 4. It wasn’t (even moderately) scalable
    • 42:15 – 5. We found out the hard way that not everyone is our customer
    • 42:23 – 6. The Value Proposition Wheel alone would have made such a difference to pivoting more quickly and efficiently
    • 43:11 – 7. We should have better tested our technology (camera equipment) – in context – it was like working on a live website!
    • 44:29 – 8. You can easily pivot your way away from passion into the job you were trying to escape: “I remember having that moment, sitting in the corner – it’s like 30 degrees outside, it’s sweltering, I’m sweating, there’s bugs everywhere, mosquitos are biting me and I’m trying to shoot this footage … of these people doing … what I want to do! And I’m here capturing video, hoping that they’re going to buy something … It was an ‘eff that’ moment!”
  • 47:02 – A quick visual of one of our first brochures. We weren’t working on “the right it, and I’m still recovering financially and emotionally.”
  • 48:19 – You’re going to make mistakes, but try to give yourself the best possible chance. Don’t be afraid!
  • 48:55 – Get in touch if Mike can tell you more!

Hindsight’s always 20:20 but wow does Mike ever get into some amazing lessons learned in this Coffee Jam.

He takes us through the whole experience – from him and some buddies coming up with the idea for their business Reel Rydes over beers, to launching and financing the business before fully testing the concept, to thinking ‘everyone’ was their customer, to pivoting several times in a panicked state, to reflecting over recent years on how they could have learned so much more right up front if they’d known how to pretotype their concepts, design and test their value proposition, and analyze the opportunity in a look-forward way.

Perhaps the most telling part of the whole video is when Mike describes himself standing on the side of the race track getting eaten alive by mosquitos in the sweltering heat – knee deep in a desperate attempt to pivot his business, all while watching his would-be customers riding their bikes around the track. In an effort to keep his business alive, he’d literally pivoted from what he loved doing to something he couldn’t stand!

Such a fascinating discussion and important lessons.

Check it out. And thanks for being here!


Alex and Mike.