Skip to main content
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 3 years ago

Making failure fun

Lessons from mistakes can be costly. But the long-term payoff has intangible value.
by: Steven Benna Staff Writer

Each successful entrepreneur has his or her own unique story. Couple those stories together, and there is likely to be one shared element: failure.

Aspiring entrepreneurs who learn to accept and overcome failure improve their chances of hitting it big. That's where F*ck Up Nights, also known as FUN Tampa Bay, fits in. The worldwide program is in 53 countries and more than 140 cities.

The first FUN gathering in Tampa took place at CoWork Ybor Oct. 1. At another event in Tampa, held Jan. 14 at Cigar City Cider & Mead, four area entrepreneurs shared lessons they learned from the their biggest mistakes. Here's a glance at three of those stories:

Joey Redner
Redner, founder of Cigar City Brewing, made a lot of money off his screw up, he says. But the well known businessman, runner-up for the Business Observer Entrepreneur of the year Award in 2014, considers it a failure because it didn't go the way he wanted it to.

The screw up came in 2014 while planning and executing Cigar City's annual Hunahpu Day, where people can buy the brewer's seasonal Hunahpu Imperial Stout.

After a few years of growth and “rousing success”, Redner says he decided to sell $50 tickets for admission into the beer festival. He sold 3,500 tickets, but 7,000 people showed up — many of whom printed other people's tickets off the Internet.

Although he had told people they could buy up to four of the beers, people were trying to buy 12 to 24 because of their resale value, Redner says. “There's a collectible element,” Redner says of the craft beer industry. “Like Pokemon, 'gotta catch 'em all.'”

The beer ended up selling out, with about 4,000 people waiting. Redner's lesson: You can't please everyone.

But not offering the experience he promised “made me sick to my stomach,” Redner says. “I felt bad because it wasn't the craft beer industry I grew up in.”

The event, however, engrained into his mind that the craft beer industry had changed. And after a strategic response — where Redner sold high priced tickets that include the price of how many bottles of beer each consumer will buy — Hunahpu Day rebounded and went well in 2015, he says.

Ian Beckles
A nine-year NFL veteran with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles, Beckles hosted a radio show for a decade after he retired.

Beckles tried multiple ventures after the show ended its run. The list includes What's Hot Tampa Bay magazine, a clothing line called Orange 62 and owning a Blimpie sandwich location. “Everyone f*cks up a lot,” Beckles says. “It's all about what you retain.”

One important lesson Beckles has learned is there's an equation to everything. At Blimpie that equation is to do things yourself because he says “people making $8 an hour don't give a f*ck.” For example, says Beckles, adding ¼ of an ounce of extra meat to sandwiches costs $50,000 per year.

Beckles sold the Blimpie to a man who sold fewer sandwiches but profited more because he knew what he was doing. Now Beckles aims to learn as much as he can before any business venture. “You can't be scared of a challenge,” he says. “If I fail, it won't be because of a lack of effort.”

Michelle Royal
Two years ago, a speaker shocked Michelle Royal with this statement: “If you're not working 120 hours per week, you will fail.” She believed it.

That belief changed her approach to business. After hearing it, and increasing her work hours, Royal grew so sick she spent seven days in the hospital. As a result, she nearly closed her consulting company, Royal Innovation Design Group. “My f*ck up was that I wasn't failure ready,” Royal says.

Royal has since come up with a list of seven areas in life to focus on. The list includes an emphasis on getting enough sleep, which leads to higher performance and better decision-making, she says. “There are a million ideas, but you only have one life,” Royal says. “You need balance.”

Only three of the areas are directly business related — another key point. Says Royal: “I think about the value I'm adding and if I am living my life with some kind of everyday balance.”
Royal's seven areas:

Your job
Your relationships

Related Stories