Ofuz was an all-in-one business suite that provided a range of tools — contact management, task management, time-tracking and invoicing — to manage a business through the sale cycle.
After receiving $250,000 in seed funding, Ofuz was released into public beta in October 2009. But as quickly as it surfaced, it was gone, with hardly a notice — almost none, in fact.
The lack of information about the company’s speedy demise caused Small Business Trends to investigate what occurred. Ofuz founder Phillippe Lewicki was kind enough to accommodate the request for an interview.
Story of Ofuz Demise
Lewicki said he began the Ofuz project nine years ago and created a minimum viable product to initiate a startup. He gave up, however, after searching unsuccessfully for two years to find a business development co-founder.
“After two years of searching, I gave up and tried to get it going myself,” Lewicki said. “My team and I are awesome at building great, ahead of their time products, but we are not good at promoting and selling them.”
Lewicki said that, in publicizing Ofuz, he also learned it would have been easier to create three distinct products instead of a bundled platform.
“I stopped promoting the service about five years ago and moved on to other ventures,” he said.
Ofuz Platform Still in Use
Ofuz users still have access to their accounts, Lewicki said. Also, the service is open source and available for free with the full source code at Github.
Lewicki added that he and his team use the product to run part of his consulting firm, and are improving on it. All upgrades are published back to the open source project.
Startup Lessons Learned
Not all is lost where Ofuz is concerned, said Lewicki. He went on to list two valuable startup lessons learned in the process.
“The first was not to try and raise funding without a solid and complete team,” he said. “As a developer, to build a successful startup, I need a good business development partner to complement my skill set.”
Lewicki added that he made a mistake by over-developing the product and setting its direction too soon, which led to the second lesson.
“So what I learned is to build the team first around the idea and concept, and then begin development,” he said. “Any solo work is a waste of time; be ready to compromise and give up control.”
When asked what advice he would give to other startup entrepreneurs, Lewicki said, “Find passionate, hard-working teammates, and solve a big problem that no one else is seeing.”
Lewicki’s experience is one shared by many startup entrepreneurs, especially those who have a talent for development but not fundraising necessarily.
“You can conceive a great idea, execute on it, but find that, without a complete team to supplement your abilities and talents, your idea may fail to come to fruition,” he said. “Ofuz was just one of my ‘failed’ startups.”
It’s nice to know that they are still going strong. It may be tough but if you continue, you’ll eventually be able to tweak everything until it all works.