“How hard can it be to take down Facebook?” with Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm (video)

Mark Coopersmith has a fireside chat with Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm about Arnaud’s 6-year journey as co-founder of a startup whose mission was to create a better option to Facebook. We discuss Arnaud’s takeaways from that experience, and delve into the book Arnaud wrote about that failed venture: “How Hard Can It Be: Startup Lessons From Trying (And Failing) To Take Down Facebook.” (Answer: pretty hard).

Some of Arnaud’s insights revolve around learning from failure. In fact, he boldly states “it can be a blessing in disguise—and it can even be fun.” This leads to a lively exchange and some different points of view on this topic around 20:00. My/Mark’s take: none of us like to fail, even if that sometimes provides new insights we can put to work in our next venture.

From the book description at Amazon:

“Bursting with ideas of how to break out of business monotony, Henneville-Wedholm and his coworker were ready to start something of their own. Soon, a lightbulb went off: what if they created a social platform that challenged people to get off the couch and live better lives? And better yet, what if it took down Facebook? There was only one problem: neither of them knew the first thing about running a tech company.

In How Hard Can It Be, Henneville-Wedholm traces, in a uniquely eclectic and cosmopolitan voice, the youthful enthusiasm that propelled the promising rise of his startup—along with its equally calamitous downfall. Along the way, he teaches readers startup lessons by example, such as:

  • How to pitch startup incubators like Sting, Europe’s version of Y-Combinator
  • How uninformed optimism can still lead to real organic growth
  • What to do when your business isn’t as scalable as you thought
  • The brand-building power of guerrilla marketing
  • How to pivot (and then pivot again, and again) when user growth stalls

For optimists and idealists everywhere, How Hard Can It Be is a jet-setting parable of the European startup scene that takes on the most elusive business topic of them all: failure. Puncturing the hollow platitudes of how-to guides, Henneville-Wedholm instead offers his real-world experience of trying to go from zero to one.

As a result of his efforts, How Hard Can It Be teaches entrepreneurs that failure need not be feared. In the right light, it can be a blessing in disguise—and it can even be fun.”

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