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How I wasted a 1B dollar opportunity because of my low self-esteem

The day everything changed


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Lorenzo Doremi

3 years ago | 5 min read

This story begins way back in 2012 when I still had hair on my head and two years of high school to do before attending college. I didn’t like the web very much: I thought that social networks were a loss of time and the only valid reason to surf the web was to download games or listening to some good music.

Yeah, I was an edgy boy at the time and didn’t fully comprehend the potential of a platform like Facebook, which was “the best of the best” those years; but in the end, because of a girl I liked, I decided to do my first registration and login on Zuckerberg’s trendy masterpiece.

The day everything changed

I felt like a new person after a few days. Facebook was great: I could look at girls, find old friends I lost during my childhood, and even join meme groups! I immediately entwined myself in every social activity I could remember since finally, a shy guy like me could find a way to meet new people without the fear of being rejected.

At the time, I was really into guitar playing, and obviously, one of the first activities I immersed myself in was uploading videos of me covering classic rock songs: finally, a way to express myself.

The first Facebook picture I’ve ever uploaded: 23 April 2012
The first Facebook picture I’ve ever uploaded: 23 April 2012

The power of multimedia

What made Facebook great, in my opinion, was the ease of use. I could easily upload videos, share them with friends, and freely chat under every post.

Using something obsessively, as I did with Facebook between 2012 and 2014, changes your perspective in two opposite ways:

  1. You become good at it, and you know everything about it
  2. You also know what’s wrong with it

In fact, the more I used this platform, the more I started feeling the need for new interactive ways. Often speaking of music with friends and strangers, I noticed how sharing small pieces of music (like explaining to them a new scale I found, or share a quick solo) was extremely uncomfortable: I had to record myself in a video, upload it and then send it to people.

Since I didn’t have a fast internet connection and recording a video from my phone, then pass it to my PC and upload it was…just too long and boring.

What’s missing?

Those years, another famous platform was rocking: Chatroulette. Born in 2009, Chatroulette allowed people around the world to video-chat and basically was, technologically speaking, a complementary part of Facebook:

  1. In Facebook, you could share content, but not live chat or speak
  2. in Chatroulette, you could write or video chat but it didn’t work as a classic social network

One day, I was thinking: “well, now that I know Chatroulette, every kind of social network seems to already exist”.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

I always wanted to invent or create something innovative, but you know it’s extremely hard; with the help of my dad, I often modded simple videogames like Heroes of Might and Magic or GTA, but adding new true content was just impossible: I had to keep dreaming of new fantasy dragons and monsters.

Why I am telling you this? Because my mind did the same thing with social networks: I started thinking “is there something that doesn’t exist?” and then I remembered how annoying sending guitar clips to my friends was.

“What about an audio social network?”

I fantasized about a new audio-only Facebook, where I could record myself speaking, instead of writing infinite chat messages explaining my new crazy music ideas.

I immediately started listing every single critical aspect of this idea:

  1. You couldn’t use it during classes
  2. You couldn’t use it in noisy areas
  3. Since it’s not live, It’s hard to communicate anyway
  4. Shy people wouldn’t want to use it
  5. Listening is actually extremely slower than reading
  6. Probably, audio messages are way more space-heavy (speaking of Gbs of hard drives)

and so on.

Then, I also remembered who I was:

an edgy guy who never understood anything of social networks and hasn’t any programming skill whatsoever.

So why even bothering myself with this stupid idea? Internet is on since the dawn of time and no one has ever invented that: sure not a guy like me will ever have a worthy idea, and not a simple shower thought.

Well, f**k.

Did you understand what happened?

Probably, you have already understood how this story is going to end. If not, be prepared.

Well, 8 years later, two guys named Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth created a new platform named Clubhouse.

If you don’t know what Clubhouse is ( I am sure you know), it’s an audio-only social network.

When I heard about it I lost my mind and laughed at them:

good luck going bankrupt with such a foolish idea I had when I was a teenager.

Well, in January 2021, Clubhouse was worth 1 billion dollars. One. Billion. Dollars. Are you joking right? No. That stupid idea I had is now worth 1 Billion dollars? What the...

Many lessons learned

The first couple hours I basically went straight berserk with myself, thinking how stupid I’ve been. I could have become a fricking billionaire at age 18, and wasted my chance because I didn’t believe in myself.

Well, actually that’s not exactly true. Having an idea is just the root of an immense tree of problems: marketing, branding, and obviously the actual development.

I wasn’t able to do all things at that age, without any skill except being able to play the Crazy Train’s solo; I was a bit young to bring to life this idea, and probably I would have failed anyway.

But there is something that I, we, could grasp from this.

You’re not an idiot

Maybe you aren’t a skilled developer, maybe you haven’t any artistic talent or you’re not charismatic enough to lead a billionaire company, but you have a brain that works extremely similar to other people.

Sometimes, you have strange ideas that don’t seem to make any sense in your life, but you can’t prove that they won’t work.

I made the mistake to think of all the negative aspects of my audioFacebook, while not focusing on the possible evolutions of the idea.

This happened to me again a couple of months ago, but this time I had friends who supported me and brought me further. Currently, I have an idea for a startup that has a small chance to start in October 2021, because even if the original idea was full of flaws, some experts gave me the correct directions and how to fix the problem.

Ideas evolve, and even change.

Sometimes your idea is actually stupid but could be the base of a bigger and more meaningful one that could make you rich.

I am still broke, but I had a billionaire idea. And I could have more of them in the future. And you do too.

Do not throw in the trash every idea you have.

Maybe that cat-throwing infrared homing launcher you thought of after too many beers was good: people made pigeon-guidance missiles work.

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Lorenzo Doremi

A Jack of all trades UX guy. Mainly interested in human-computer interaction, contemporary sociology and art.


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