Complex Made Simple

Learn from startups’ failures not just successes

Today’s fast-paced and economically vibrant world is witnessing a boom of entrepreneurial activities. Every day hundreds of startups are founded across the world, but not all of them reach the million-dollar profit mark and many even struggle for basic survival.

Facts state that more than 50 percent of small businesses fail within the first five years of their inception and out of those who make it, another 50 percent will fail in another few years.

So what remains the most important factor in business success? The answer: an ‘innovative’ idea.

Experts say that to succeed in the highly demanding entrepreneurial ecosystem, you need an answer to an existing or an unseen problem or innovation to an existing idea.

And one company that is putting this in motion is Paris-based startup, Induo.

Solving the problem of sweat in clothing and taking it beyond just sportswear, Induo is manufacturing the first non-iron, stain-resistant and sweat-resistant cotton fabric in the world. Its fabric, made with a patented technology, is made of cotton and is characterized by two qualities: repellency and breathability.

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The idea stage

Having worked in the corporate world prior to becoming entrepreneurs, co-founders of Induo, Pauline Guesne, and Sebastien Francois, saw the need of having workwear that was as efficient as sportswear to manage sweat.

“We thought, if sportswear had evolved, why can’t day-to-day clothing evolve too. We tried existing solutions first. The fabric we found felt like plastic, looked wired and was a nightmare to maintain. With Sebastian’s idea to create a fabric that could manage sweat and stains, and my passion for fashion, the idea started,” says Guesne.

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The intangible challenges

Most of the entrepreneurs talk about physical and financial barriers in their startup journey. But there is an emotional and intangible side to it too.

About the most challenging aspects of starting a business, Guesne says there are personal sacrifices. “No one understands how much you want this, how much you have to work for it, fight for it and invest all of your money in it,” she says. “You are constantly sacrificing time with your family and friends, as well as personal comfort; and in doing so, you feel very alone. Not to mention how responsible you feel about everything: with great power (being the boss) comes great responsibility.”

However, successful entrepreneurs strive to find the most effective ways of overcoming such challenges. For Guesne, networking is more than making business contacts and seeking financial assistance.

“Usually, you come across other entrepreneurs who are just like you and this is when you truly feel like someone understands you. Starting a business is the best and the worst thing I have done, but I would not have it any other way,” Guesne says.

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The tech-way

In today’s’ tech-driven world, there is no escape from digital – especially for the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The same is true for Induo.

“We sell fabric online which almost none of our competitors do. Plus, the team of Induo needs digital tools to collaborate as we all live in different cities. I live in Paris, France, my business partner lives in London, the UK, and my R&D team is based in Lille, France.”

The success lessons

Behind every successful business is an inspiration. There are lessons to be learnt from hundreds of companies being formed every day around the world – the rate of their success and the core values that convert an idea into a yielding and profitable business.

Talking about the inspiration behind Induo, Guesne says, I believe the best way to succeed is to find people/companies with similar issues and see how they solved them. I would say I have learned more from startup failures than successes. The ability to detect what could have been done better or when things are not heading the right way (and why) has helped me so much already.”

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The rewards and the motivations

A successful startup or any business is one that goes beyond mere financial gains. If an idea aims at adding value to the society, the profits go a long way and the rewards come in multiple forms.

For Induo, one of the biggest motivations and appreciations is the fact the company makes a difference, especially to those who were earlier conscious about sweat in their everyday clothing.

“One customer called me at the office to say that Induo has changed his life and he wanted to thank me personally for that. I never ever imagined this would happen. But now, every time it gets hard, this is what I think about to keep me going.”

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Showcasing talent at alw

Showcasing its cutting-edge solutions, Induo recently participated in the Global Start-up Bootcamp – part of the arab luxury world conference that took place in Dubai on May 8 and 9 –at INSEAD Business School campus in Abu Dhabi.

 The boot camp, sponsored by TAG Heuer and Chalhoub Group, was attended by a global community of game-changers who are successfully driving digital transformation in the industries related to exceptional customer experiences.

Induo rubbed shoulders with dozens of other startups from Paris, London and New York and presented their company in a ‘pitch session’ in front of 600-plus industry professionals.