❌ Failed startup
✅ Successful startup

Folyo: Selling a $1500 Failed Startup

Folyo was a networking site that connected companies and designers. Choosing a bad business model was a critical decision.

France
Design
Monetizing Issues

Sacha Greif

March 16, 2018

Sponsor Failory and get your business & product in front of +20,000 CEOs, startup founders, entrepreneurs, developers and marketers every month.

This Interview's Sponsor

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month creating content, increasing SEO rankings, carrying out advertisement campaigns...

Switch to better payroll. OnPay makes payroll and HR simple by paying your employees, filing US payroll taxes, and integrating with your favorite software. We can take also care of benefits, and we’ll help you switch providers. Take a peek at how easy payroll can be.

Hello Sacha! Who are you? What are you currently working on?

I'm a designer/developer/ originally from France, but now living in Osaka, Japan. I work on a lot of stuff, but lately, most of my energy has been going into maintaining VulcanJS, a new React+GraphQL open-source framework. I actually used Vulcan to build another one of my projects, Sidebar, a daily newsletter of design links.

Why did you build Folyo? Which marketing strategies did you use?

I built Folyo as my first "startup" attempt all the way back in 2011. At the time, I had noticed how hard it was for startups to hire good designers (which it still is, I guess!). So I got the idea to build a networking site that would help connect companies and designers. So original, I know!

Folyo Website

As for marketing, I relied mainly on writing good content and then posting it on sites like Hacker News. Some of my posts (such as the $5 Logo) even went pretty viral.

 

How were you different and better than your competition?

To be honest I probably wasn't. The main "advantage" Folyo had was that it was a very lean operation with very little overhead. For example, we charged a flat fee for posting a project and didn't handle any of the payment stuff between the company and designer in order to keep the app simple. We also didn't handle any of the project management for you, so we were really focused on making that initial connection and not much else, as opposed to competitors who were trying to guide you through the entire design process.

Take payroll off your to-do list.

Rated “excellent” by PC magazine, OnPay gives US startups an easy and affordable way to manage payroll and HR. We do all the heavy lifting, including payroll taxes, onboarding your employees, and setting you up for free.

Get One Month Free

Reach +20,000 Startup Founders!

If you are looking to get your product in front of founders, CEOs, VPs, web and mobile developers, makers, consultants, marketers, bloggers, product managers, and many other thought leaders, then we can help you.

👉 Sponsorships

40 Hours of Digital Marketing for $50/Month

Do you want to grow your business? With GenM you can get free marketing from an apprentice as part of their training. The student will work 40 hours per month creating content, increasing SEO rankings, carrying out advertisement campaigns...

Check it out   👉

Should startup hire freelancers or full-time employees?

That's always a tough one. Most startups rightfully prefer hiring full-time employees, but that's not always possible, whether it's because of budgetary or availability constraints.

 

In 140 characters explain why did Folyo fail

I picked a bad business model, as shown by the fact that many, many other companies have tried doing the same thing as Folyo and failed.

 

Name 3 errors you committed with Folyo

  1. I picked a bad business model
  2. I made the main call-to-action button green instead of blue
  3. I spent too much time doing interviews instead of focusing on my work

Unlimited Design Services at $349/Month

Hire a graphic design and development team to create fully functional web & app UI/UX, branding, illustrations & everything else you can imagine on a monthly subscription that starts at $349/month.

Check it out   👉

In which ways did Folyo’s failure help you achieve success with Sidebar?

Folyo was actually instrumental in Sidebar's success, as I initially launched Sidebar in order to have one more avenue to drive traffic through Folyo. I never expected that Sidebar would turn into a more sustainable business than Folyo ever was!

 

Which freelancing resource would you recommend?

Brennan Dunn's stuff is generally pretty good!

 

Where can we go to learn more?

You can check out my personal homepage, or else just sign up for Sidebar!

Remember that Folyo is not closed. It was given away to Robert Williams from Workshop. The service still exists and Robert is working hard to make it successful!

✉️ Subscribe to receive weekly startup related articles!

We’re always digging for more failure stories like Folyo. Sign up for our newsletter to keep updated on the latest additions.

👇 Other Interviews

Joker Greeting: Making $30,000/Month Selling Prank Cards
By 
Travis Peterson
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
e-Commerce
Up to 50K
Gadget Flow: Building a Site in 24 Hours and Growing it to +$2M/Year
By 
Evan Varsamis
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
Web Application
Over 150K
Hubstaff: Growing a Time Tracking Software to $316,000/Month
By 
Dave Nevogt
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
SaaS
Over 150K
Puppet Pelts: Mistakes Behind $9,000/Month Selling Puppet Skins
By 
Laurie Nickerson
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
e-Commerce
Up to 50K
Reroute Lifestyle: Find Niche, Create Content, Build Community
By 
Krista Aoki
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
Blog
Up to 50K
LiveAgent: Making +$250K in MRR with a Spin-Off Project
By 
David Cacik
  •  
February 21, 2019
United States
SaaS
Over 150K
Mishra Motors: Huge Problem, Little Money
By 
Naveen Mishra
  •  
March 16, 2018
India
Transportation
Capital
Unprepared Market
Eloquis: Losing $20,000 with a Bootstrapped SaaS
By 
Rohit Nallapeta
  •  
March 17, 2018
United States
SaaS
Unprepared Market
Not Practical
Gymlisted: Coding 8 Months a Thing Nobody Wanted
By 
Tom Zaragoza
  •  
March 17, 2018
Canada
Web Application
Not Practical
No MVP Validation
Zor Technology: 16 Years Old Boy Fails to Build an Import Business
By 
Mathew Carpenter
  •  
October 18, 2018
Australia
Technology
Legal Problems
Lieferoo: Failing to Become the Next Uber for Awkward Items
By 
Aazar Shad
  •  
February 2, 2019
Germany
Marketplace
Bad Marketing
People Management
MotoBox: The Story of 2 Technical Co-Founders
By 
Joe Stech
  •  
March 16, 2018
United States
Transportation
Bad Marketing