Failing is fun!

Did your start-up go bankrupt? Are you out of a job? A new Web site will help you network with other dot-com failures.

Published May 9, 2000 3:00PM (EDT)

Anyone who's worked at a start-up knows that the stock market's fluctuations are nothing compared to the roller coaster of dot-com daily life: changes in direction, leadership turnovers, budget woes and IPOs make for a tumultuous ride.

So where do you go when your venture capital runs out and the refrigerator that once dispensed free soda is repossessed?

The creator of hopes you'll head to his Web site. Identified as "A Place for Bouncing Back," the site identifies itself as "[T]he first community focused on supporting individuals that have recently gone through the experience of a start-up failure." Pointing to some dreary statistics ("Of the companies that receive funding, 60 percent go bankrupt."), it says, "The vast majority of start-ups will fail." And all those people need a home.

At another start-up, of course.

After being involved in three start-ups that failed (two of which he founded), Nick Hall, the president of the Silicon Valley Association of Software Entrepreneurs, conceived the idea for a Web site for those bulldozed by dot-com mania.

The site, which will be promoted through "primarily grass-roots efforts," includes a discussion board and a section to submit "your failure feedback." Forthcoming are "resources for the mind, body, money and relationships" and a list of jobs to help those who want to jump back into the fray.

Hall is aiming more for the seasoned dot-com crowd of movers and shakers ("executives, founders and management in start-ups that have recently failed"), rather than recent grads or others who have jumped in only to find the pool is quite empty.

And although is conceived as a business (the site is currently looking for sponsorships), Hall isn't gunning for an IPO. "I intend the site to be more like than," says Hall. While he's posted an ad for a writer/editor and is building a team of "coaches," the site will be less of a bloodthirsty start-up and more a "philanthropic for-profit" site. "I don't have any ambitions of raising money to grow the community. As the word gets out, the practicality of the site improves, the members will come. I know that there are millions of us out there."

What happens if, well, fails? "Wouldn't that be ironic," Hall says. But, he adds, "[i]f our site helps one entrepreneur to bounce back, I will consider it a success."

By Andy Dehnart

Andy Dehnart is a writer living in Chicago.

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