Blin.gy, the App designed to let users ‘insert’ themselves into their favorite music videos, is shutting down.
The startup was launched as Chosen three years ago, and raised at least $ 10 million has announced it is folding after a potential acquisition fell through. Blin.gy, struggled to compete with others in the space including Musical.ly even though it had a marketing partnership with Ellen DeGeneres, who promoted the app on her show and also took an equity stake.
Taking to social media via a Medium post, the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer David Hyman wrote about an intensive period of M&A and potential buyout negotiation and fund-raising, which fell through:
We were told we were getting bought. My Tel Aviv engineers were flown out for a week of intensive grilling. We had 20+ meetings with our potential suitor and all signs and words said “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Love and admiration, redemption, and the whiff of impending victory. You try to keep calm and keep a lid on your expectations. But you also can’t help yourself. I’m warning my team in Tel Aviv NOT to start looking at places to live in California, and at the same time, I’m also starting to daydream.
A week later, a casual email is sent saying they’re passing. No reason given. Now, we’ve got two weeks left of cash in the bank. Enough to lay off staff and-pay severance. Game over.
Hyman also described the technical issues and challenges : “Just before launching, our engineers had a breakthrough. They’d been on a crash course in machine learning, training an AI engine using Google’s Tensorflow. We were bringing in kids and putting them in front of green screens to educate our algorithm, and were close to having a lightweight inference engine that would work with the graphics processor on a mobile phone. We were a few more weeks, maybe months, to optimization. But we ran out of time. We had to go live with the awkward interim step. ….. So we started getting the users, but here’s where the rubber quickly met the road. Without the undesirable interim background detection step, many users saw less than stellar quality videos. This of course had a big impact on our retention metrics. We needed 40% day-one returns and were closer to 25%.”
Of course, as with other startup failures, there are lessons here too. David Hyman summarizes “Final takeaways” for other startups and entrepreneurs:
- Takeaway from pre-launch Blin.gy: Everything takes at least twice as long as you project. If you don’t have the run rate for double your engineers’ forecasts, plus the time needed to go to market and iterate, don’t move forward.
- Keep your expectations in check to preserve your psyche. It’s easier to set expectations low and exceed than to set them unrealistically high and get hurt. You know the expression “Until the money’s in the bank?” Well, I’ve had an investor pull their money out AFTER it was in our bank account. So believe me when I say it.
- Have deep faith in what you’re doing so you can have the ammunition and energy to plow through the end. It takes a Herculean effort and that only comes when you’re fully committed to the vision. I’m still a frustrated believer in our vision.
Check out our list of recently failed startups.