7 Startup Mistakes to Avoid
Crucial Insights from Oodie Founder and Shark Tank Judge Davie Fogarty

In the ever-shifting world of startups, where triumph and setback dance a delicate balance, Davie Fogarty, the innovative mind behind The Oodie and a celebrated Shark Tank judge, unveils a wealth of insights from his own entrepreneurial odyssey. His path, marked by six ventures that didn't take off, eventually led to a multi-millionaire status, sculpting some of today's leading e-commerce entities.

Central to his narrative is The Oodie, an oversized wearable blanket that has taken the globe by storm, fuelling his staggering revenue of over $500 million. Yet, for this digital marketing prodigy, the journey's value lies in the hard-earned lessons, now shared to guide aspiring entrepreneurs.

At 28, Fogarty embodies the essence of resilience and adaptability in the rapidly changing e-commerce world. His advice is both stark and inspiring: “Unless you have deep pockets to bootstrap your start-up, you’ll be knocking at investors’ doors to help scale up your business and keep it thriving. Don’t make the same mistakes I did with my ventures that failed and caused hiccups to those that have survived. Experience is an expensive teacher.”

As most startups depend on external funding for growth and sustainability, recognising investor turn-offs is vital. Fogarty's timely insights aim to direct startups toward the elusive 50 percent that not only endure but also flourish beyond their initial three years.

What are these pivotal missteps that could derail your startup dream? Keep reading to uncover Davie's 7 key mistakes to avoid and gain insights into navigating your startup to success.

For the 70 percent of startups that rely on external funding to stay afloat, understanding investor turn-offs is critical. Here are the top seven mistakes that Davie Fogarty highlights as potential deterrents for investors:

1. Lack of Online Marketing Knowledge:

Startups need to be proficient in marketing and technology to avoid significant financial losses. Davie shares his own experience with a Vietnamese roll franchise that failed despite his efforts. He eventually pivoted to enhancing his Instagram marketing skills and delved deep into research, photography, videography, and e-commerce. His journey included learning from mistakes, such as losing money on ineffective marketing agencies and falling prey to a scam. Davie's advice: thoroughly vet marketing agencies for their expertise in your niche, ensure they view your business as a priority, and practice prudent hiring and firing.

2. Complex Products or Services

Products with complicated concepts require clear explanations. Davie invested in Fydoo, the first automatic and sustainable pet toilet. To make this unique product understandable, its website features explanatory videos and reviews. Davie suggests using demo videos, especially for products with complex instructions, to ease customer and investor understanding. Similarly, for Pupnaps, a calming dog bed, success hinged on a robust approach to content, social media, customer service, and product development.

3. Website Glitches

A functional and user-friendly website is essential. Relying solely on marketplaces can limit a brand's scalability and recognition. Startups should avoid websites with complex navigation, slow loading times, and inadequate customer service systems. Davie recommends focusing on search engine optimization (SEO) and creating consistent, useful content. Incorporating AI tools to generate content ideas and compelling headlines can also drive traffic to the site.

4. Not scrutinising your costs

Potential investors look for assurances that startups are operating both leanly and efficiently. One challenge for micro businesses is the lack of comprehensive in-house services, leading them to outsource various operations during their initial years. However, as these businesses expand, it becomes advantageous to reassess and potentially internalise certain operations. Davie cites the example of Suitor, a brand he invested in, which offers online rental and rent-to-buy options for high-quality, affordable suits. Initially operating from a granny flat, Suitor lacked the space to launder suits and had to outsource this service to a dry cleaner. Yet, as the company grew, boasting now $1.7 million in sales, it transitioned to handling laundry services in-house upon moving to larger premises. According to Davie, this shift cut operational costs by 70 percent and significantly improved quality control.

5. Beware of copycats!

Davie advises that brands offering products should vigilantly search for copycats. He recommends regularly monitoring online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay for any products that closely resemble their own. If a lookalike product is discovered, businesses have the option to report the infringement directly to the platform. Additionally, Davie suggests utilizing reverse-image search tools, such as Google Images or TinEye’s MatchEngine. These tools allow businesses to check if their product images are being used elsewhere without permission. In such cases, a cease-and-desist letter can be an effective response. Further, Davie points out that startups should consider registering their trademarks or patents, providing them with legal recourse for future protection.

6. Not managing a brand’s reputation

Negative reviews often provide valuable insights into customer pain points regarding a product or service. Davie emphasizes the importance of businesses addressing these issues promptly, handling them with both grace and transparency. In cases where a business can reasonably determine that certain negative comments are inauthentic, services like Removify can be utilized to assist in their removal. Davie also advocates for proactive brand management. He suggests exploring free trials of social listening technologies, which offer near-real-time updates on what consumers are saying about the brand online.

7. Forgetting to leverage partnerships

A start-up developing a high-end beach 'buggy' equipped with Bluetooth speakers caught Davie's attention, leading to his investment of $450,000. Named the Burleigh Wagon, it has garnered both domestic and international orders. However, it faced significant losses each Australian summer due to stock depletion. The business was in dire need of a strategic partner who could effectively coordinate with the 14 factories responsible for the wagon's components, as well as with the assembly plant. Davie, with his extensive partnerships and experience in global manufacturing, was the ideal fit. Moreover, the Burleigh Wagon boasts a patent, is standard-certified as a pram, and is designed to navigate sandy terrains.

Davie hopes these insights will resonate with startups. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the peak periods for Australians to register new businesses are at the beginning and end of the calendar year. His advice to entrepreneurs: be mindful of your approach to attracting investors and avoid burning bridges in the process.

Hero Image Courtesy of 10play.com.au


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7 Startup Mistakes to Avoid