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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Do Not Fuck This Up

We all make mistakes and our journeys are imperfect, which means that merely avoiding fucking up (badly) is sometimes the path to success.<...>

I think about this often in the context of our journey with WooThemes, where we made so many mistakes along the way and that after 6 years (when I exited the company) there were still so many imperfections within the business. Even something as simple as some of our internal reporting, where we just couldn't extract the perfect data in the ideal context to help us make certain decisions. We tried, but we also flew blind at times.

My key takeaway from this experience has however been that none of these fuckups or imperfections hindered us from building a thriving, profitable business. Neither did it hinder my exit from the company in late-2013.

Beyond that though, it actually enabled what I decided to work on next (and am working on today): Receiptful.


Yesterday we announced that Receiptful had raised $500k in funding from an awesome group of angel investors.

And ever since closing this round a couple of weeks ago, I've had this feeling that as long as I don't fuck this up, Receiptful will become a successful company.

This isn't to suggest that securing funding is the silver bullet en route to success. But in combination with our existing traction, I'm feeling bullish.

We have solid traction right now, we're growing nicely and the roadmap for the next 12 months is clear. Executing on our plans and avoiding any fatal mistakes along the way means we should hit our next milestone(s) comfortably.

Again that isn't to downplay the hard work and shrewd decisions required to get there, but these things are known quantities and we can plan for that.


It might sound ridiculous to suggest that a way to win is just to avoid losing. It might also sound slightly defeatist and pessimistic when you hear an entrepreneur (who is supposed to be ambitious and optimistic at all costs) say it.

But I think it's true: surviving long enough and avoiding fatal fuckups means you'll inevitably build something of value (and that would fit into a definition of success).

That might not be enough to create a billion dollar company or dominate a whole industry / market.

But it could be more than enough to return value to founders, team members and investors.

Crucially every journey becomes a stepping stone to the next opportunity.

Make (new) mistakes, avoid fatal fuckups and learn. :)

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