When your startup fails | TechCrunch


The founder of Shelflife realized that things don’t always go as planned

The beginning begins As an idea, Inkling. Maybe the founder sees a pain point and thinks they can solve it with technology and change the industry, but it doesn’t always go as planned. That’s what Shelflife founder Lillian Cartwright found when she started her startup. When the economy turned and the venture capital dried up last year, Cartwright was forced to take the painful lessons she learned and move on to whatever came next.

But when she started, Cartwright believed the beverage industry was ripe for digital transformation. A few years ago, while in graduate school at Harvard, she came up with the idea of ​​starting a hard seltzer business. She soon realized that sourcing the goods was harder than she thought, and started thinking about business, a two-sided marketplace where companies can find goods, negotiate prices, and invoice and pay – all in one convenient place.

It seems like an industry dominated by paper and manual processes, but Carwright learns that it can move very quickly, especially in the accounting department of the business.

When thinking about digital transformation, it’s easy to forget that long-held manual processes can be difficult to change. For a start-up aiming at an industry still dominated by phone calls, faxes, emails and paper receipts, digital is more efficient, and although it can save money and time, changing entrenched company business processes isn’t always easy.

“I was struggling in terms of understanding the supplier landscape to know who would supply our juice concentrate, citric acid, cans, labels — all of it,” Cartwright told TechCrunch+.

At the same time Cartwright was struggling with her business idea for Seltzer, she had a summer job at Bessemer Venture Partners looking at e-commerce marketplaces. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she was laying the groundwork for her startup idea.

The business was launched in February 2020 just as the pandemic was underway, perhaps a sign of things to come. But at first, everything looked rosy: she managed to raise more than $300,000. She used that money to find a more technical founder. She eventually partnered with John Klein, an engineering manager with experience at eBay, Blue Apron and Google, before joining Cartwright to help build ShelfLife.

So far so good

Cline in the fold, they began to build the platform. The next year, she raised another $2.7 million. The stage began to gather. The future looks bright.


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