fail week

Fail Week: When Mariam Naficy’s Startup Launch Was So Bad She Almost Gave The Investor Money Back

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Contrary to popular opinion, failure is not just for losers. Even the people known for being “winners” go through some epic missteps along the way. It’s just that people don’t often talk about it — especially not in the tech industry, or the press that covers it. So TechCrunch has created Fail Week, a five day long video series that shines some light on the dark days that even the most successful entrepreneurs go through.

On Monday we featured Tim Draper, who talked about being in debt to the government to the tune of $6 million; yesterday we featured Kevin Ryan, who talked about losing “total credibility” as DoubleClick’s CEO when he had to lay off hundreds of dedicated employees during the first dot-com bust. And today, we’re hearing from Mariam Naficy, the CEO of design marketplace and stationery maker Minted.

Naficy has been lauded as a successful businesswoman for years, having co-founded Eve.com, the pioneering online cosmetics retailer that she sold for a cool $110 million when she was barely out of her 20s. So it was a very rude awakening when she launched Minted in 2008 only to receive skeptical press — and practically zero dollars in sales. It was so bad, she says, that in the first weeks after launch she seriously considered just giving money back to Minted’s investors and calling it a day.

Watch the video embedded above to hear about how it felt to open up Minted for business and have the concept put down in TechCrunch (and then wait around for customers that just didn’t show up), what kept her going through those dark days, how Minted turned things around when things looked so bleak, and the advice she’d give to entrepreneurs going through tough times.