‘We simply failed’: 4chan founder on killing his seemingly successful startup


Last night Chris Poole, famed for starting 4chan, wrote a post titled: Today my startup failed. “No soft landing, no happy ending — we simply failed,” so began the honest account of how a product that seemed quite successful could fail.

Poole’s post is about his other venture, DrawQuest, a platform that allowed users to draw and be creative through daily drawing challenges — this week it called it quits. DrawQuest is in essence what came after Canvas and by all accounts, as Poole points out, the product was a success. In the last year it saw around 1.4-million downloads, with 25 000 daily users. Last month alone 400 000 people used the platform. People were using it and yet it failed.

According to the entrepreneur the product was fine, the market was there, but the business was a lot trickier.

“Building any business is hard, but building a business with a single app offering and half of your runway is especially hard (we created DrawQuest after the failure of our first product, Canvas),” he says.

This problem isn’t unique to Poole, it is what many startups face today: having the right product and the correct market fit just isn’t enough — monetising is key.

“I’ve come away with new-found respect for those companies who excel at monetising mobile applications. As we approached the end of our runway, it became clear to us that DrawQuest didn’t represent a venture-backed opportunity, and even with more time that was unlikely to change.”

Poole’s touching post-mortem — about the challenges starting a business brings — is something entrepreneurs can understand and relate to, even if they it’s uncomfortable to talk about failure.

Few in business will know the pain of what it means to fail as a venture-backed CEO. Not only do you fail your employees, your customers, and yourself, but you also fail your investor—partners who helped you bring your idea to life.

Read Poole’s full post here.



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