When Is It Time To End A Startup?

Martin Migge gained a lot of valuable knowledge and experience from his first venture, which he is now pouring into his new role as CTO of another fintech (Photo: Silicon Luxembourg archives)

Success stories about new tech startups and their innovations are in abundance. But few entrepreneurs like to talk about the end of their startup lifecycle. Entrepreneur Martin Migge explains why he closed Valuu.io and what he learned from his first tech venture.

2018 saw some major upheaval in the Luxembourg startup ecosystem. New incubators mushroomed and the grand duchy had a booth at Paris trade fair Vivatech. This visibility inspired a new wave of entrepreneurs, among them Martin Migge. 

The German national studied management and logistics before moving to Luxembourg for his first job in 2013. After a stint with Kuehne & Nagel and then Amazon, he examined ways to simplify a topic that was close to his heart: stock investing.  

“There was a lot of theoretical knowledge around analysing stock listed companies, but nobody who has a day job has the time to do all the research and dig through all the numbers,” he said. He could not find an existing solution and so created his own in Valuu.io. 

Migge developed his MVP 2018, launched the company in 2019 and, after participating in some acceleration programmes, the B2C web application went live at the end of 2019. 

“We had a lot of customer onboarding, but not paying customers. This is good for the discovery, identifying what people actually want to use, but in the end commercially, it’s not a sustainable concept,” Migge explained. 

The entrepreneur said that one of the reasons transitioning to a paid product was so challenging was because Valuu wasn’t replacing or improving an existing product but introducing a new approach and habit. 

“Generally, I would not recommend people take three years to figure out what does and doesn’t work.”

Martin Migge

“Often it’s just people using their own Excel spreadsheets or their own process,” he said.

Migge acknowledges that there were other factors, such as the market fit in the B2C segment. He explained: “Typically, people don’t allocate a budget for these kinds of services. So, it’s difficult to motivate people to spend money on that.”

At its height, the platform had more than 2,000 users in 80 countries, but in early 2022 he came around to the idea that without revenue growth, it was time to move on. 

Looking back, Migge could have made the decision earlier but he enjoyed gaining in-depth knowledge on different topics and spending time on building the application. In short, he learned that he is more of a technical guy. 

Today Migge has no regrets and learned a lot from the experience, advice he was happy to share with Silicon. He said: “Generally, I would not recommend people take three years to figure out what does and doesn’t work.”

If he were able to do it again, Migge would not have incorporated the business so soon, because this process took away time that could have been spent on product development. 

“That’s probably one of the big mistakes I made because for three years I had to do all the accounts and everything. And it is not necessary to just get customer interviews. You can even put up a website and show a first prototype without having a registered company.”

The entrepreneur says he would not have been so quick to quit his job, which could have provided an income while he dedicated weekends and evenings to the project. 

Migge is currently in the process of liquidating Valuu.io, a process which he says is lengthy and costly. He said: “There is a lot of advice on starting a business but very little advice on actually how to properly close it down without incurring too many additional costs because it also costs money to pay notaries.”

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