Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm; A Modern-Day Startup Failure Case Study With Startup Lessons

person-iconby Edparcaut calender-icon18 Sep, 2022


Nine out of ten startups experience startup failure. 

It kind of makes you wonder why you would even try, right? 

For every Facebook, Instagram, or Uber, dozens of great startup ideas go home with nothing but startup lessons when the day is done. 

On the latest episode of the Inner Edison Podcast with Ed Parcaut, we talked about startup failure and the lessons that startups learn from embracing failure. 

We spoke with consultant, lecturer, entrepreneur, and author Arnaud Henneville-Wedholm. He shared his experience creating a startup set to disrupt Facebook’s reign as the king of social media platforms. 

In his new book How Hard Can It Be: Startup Lessons From Trying (and Failing) to Take Down Facebook, he presents his startup failure case study. He also shares the startup lessons he learned throughout the process.

He shares tips for aspiring entrepreneurs to reduce their learning curve. 

My Startup Failure Case Study

When Arnaud set out to create his startup, he wanted to lean on his experience as a Change Management Consultant for large corporations.

Around 2010, he and a colleague became frustrated about why successful, hard-working people would spend hours on what he called “kilometers of nonsense.”

Rather than sharing frivolous moments in life, like the food you are eating, Arnaud and his associate wanted to disrupt that notion for higher ideals.

In short, they sought to challenge Facebook. They wanted to create a social network that would serve as a real-world challenge platform where people could accomplish significant life goals with the support of friends online.

“We Had No Experience Building Social Networks.”

Arnaud jokes that he and his associate had no experience building social networks. They merely felt passionate about their idea.

Coming from the business world, they felt their knowledge about the psychological aspects of change would carry over. 

However, they had no experience with programming, coding, or development. 

Managing the Startup Journey

Despite their lack of experience, their idea presented well, and they were accepted into a Nordic startup incubator.

From there, they found angel investors to back their idea. After that, they went through the first round of acquiring seed money for launch.

Startup Lessons Learned

While their idea of helping people change their lives through an online platform was great, they never considered that most people don’t like to sit with their discomfort. 

More importantly, they don’t want to sit with that discomfort on an online platform — in front of their friends. 

The potential for challenges to go viral was real. The problem was that people didn’t do the work. 

After two and half years, they realized this social network wouldn’t work as a B2C platform. 

Startup Failures Led to a Series of Pivots

Another thing that Arnaud learned was that what they were trying to do with their social network was the same thing they were trying to accomplish as consultants.

That led to the notion that their social network would better serve the B2B community.

While it worked better as a B2B platform, the sales process was slow. Another challenge was customizing it for each corporation. That required a lot of teaching. 

They realized they were consultants with a tool. The model wasn’t scalable without an army of salespeople. 

The last pivot was that it changed into an enterprise social network. However, their competitors had more resources.

In the end, Facebook would create its own platform called Workplace by Facebook.

Learn From My Startup Failures

If you want to decrease your learning curve, learn from Arnaud’s startup failures. How Hard Can It Be provides valuable startup lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Are you looking for more great interviews about business, entrepreneurship, and more? Please follow the Inner Edison Podcast with Ed Parcaut.