Friday’s Future Leaders: Prerna Gupta– A Lesson In Failure|
Your dream job turned you down. That big internship? You didn’t land it. Your first start-up company fizzled out. The promotion went to someone else. Business school rejected you. And the sky actually feels as if it is falling.
Failure’s disappointment envelops us, and we are hit at our core. It feels like heartbreak. And to all those who say it “is just work”…It is not. Not for us. Not for the generation whose work and life is more intertwined than ever before. For this reason, it is pivotal that we learn early to pick ourselves up and dust off the disappointment. Failure is leading you to great success, provided you choose resiliency.
When Prerna Gupta had to wind down Yaari.com, a social media company that boasted 2 million users, it would have been easy to look at those four years of hard work and hang her head in the letdown of a company that failed to monetize. She could have said goodbye to the entrepreneurial life forever. She could have written off the tech space, or worse, she could have written off herself–deciding that she just didn’t have what it took to lead a company.
But Gupta did none of those things. She took her whip marks from starting, and ending, her first company to become the co-founder and CEO of Khu.sh, which makes the iPhone music application called LaDida. This is an app that works like reverse karaoke, composing music to match your voice. LaDida ranks in the top twenty paid apps on iTunes and the two million plus downloads has led the company to profitability. Transitioning out of the disappointment from Yaari was “emotionally challenging” for Gupta, but she says that while it was one of the most difficult experiences in her young career, she knew that her endeavors were not a waste because she came out of that experience with valuable learning that would push her onward. She chose to focus on the positive and not let one failure hold her back from greatness with Khu.sh.
In 2011, Khu.sh then released Songify, its second application that transforms speech into song. Gupta focused on nothing but success in her new company as she proved a mass-market demand for people to express themselves through music. Khu.sh has since attracted seed funding from accelerators and reputable angels as well as grants. Gupta is now seeing company revenues in the lower millions. She has comprised a team of engineers with advanced degrees in physics, artificial intelligence and music technology. And she’s nowhere near done there.
Gupta is driven toward her ultimate goal of making music ubiquitous as a form of social expression, with a world of users composing music, sharing and following. To think she could have let failure stop her, never to see the success of Kh.ush that would follow…
We are all going to face what feels like great failures-the kind that are hard to see beyond…the kind that causes us to doubt. But it is imperative that we respond with resiliency and strength, using lessons from our failure to propel us forward. Like Gupta, those failures bring us that much closer to success.