Philip Kiracofe and Others Talk About Healthy Failure at Ignite NYC

9/19/12Follow @jpruth

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visualize how people use the Web, learn what pages they visit, and which browser they used. After three months of work, Kowitz revealed a prototype that only muddled the issue. “The Web pages were [represented as] skyscrapers and the traffic between the sites were like airplanes moving through cities,” he said. “If you think you’re confused, so was everyone in the conference room.”

Kowitz attributed his mistake to design blindness, which arises when an idea only makes sense its originator. He said designers, and entrepreneurs for that matter, need to share their ideas with others for critiquing early on to avoid such headaches. “You have to show your work to people before you can get it done,” he said.

Sometimes failure can push an entrepreneur to discover success. Will Mayo, founder of New York’s SpokenLayer, told the Ignite NYC crowd how he found his footing after several misfires. Mayo gave the startup world several tries—first with AUDIOis, a social platform for musicians to rehearse, share and create music, and then with SoundPipe, an app he never shared publicly but was trumped by a rival who landed funding and a strong user base first.

Turning his attention to his challenges with dyslexia, Mayo created SpokenLayer, which reads text from the Web. Even with a fresh idea, he ran into trouble. Mayo burned through his cash while the app was still in the works, was forced to fire all of this developers, but at the same time he landed a spot in this spring’s TechCrunch Disrupt event “with no team, no money, and no product.”

Mayo finished building the app in 17 days, just in time to take the stage.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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