How to Fail & Still Win
Dear backers, supporters, partners, investors, friends, and family,
It is with deep regret that I must announce Bravrr's journey has come to an end. After four and a half years Bravrr will be closing down.
We held on as long as we could, hoping for the dental market to rebound, but unfortunately it just never recovered from the Covid shutdowns that begin in April 2020. Our story is tragic, but it is an echo of the vast turmoil and hardships of the global pandemic that disrupted most all of our lives.
Our main customers, dental offices and teams, suffered greatly during this last year. Forced to close their offices Then, when they could reopen they were forced to change their entire procedures to ensure patient safety. Our main users, dental hygienists, were suspended from being able to perform routine checkups and cleanings in many states, months after finally reopening. Dental offices are still scrambling, just trying to survive this last year.
We are proud of all dental professionals and all that you have done to make it through this last year. We wish for your success in continuing to provide the care you bring to your communities.
Over the last four years, we brought the BruxRelief device from idea and initial prototype to a patented and manufactured product. We were accepted and completed the top hardware accelerator program in the world (HAX Hardware Accelerator). We won the Best of Class Technology award within the dental industry, received publication in the dental industries top magazines (even Forbes). We were showcased in last year's nation virtual American Dental Association conference, partnered with a major dental distributor as well as represented and promoted by some of the dental industry's top key opinion leaders.
I am extremely proud of my team and all that we accomplished these last several years. 2020 was an extremely hard year, but to be honest it was par for the course. We've encountered so many setbacks, challenges, moments of despair and somehow broke through each one of them over the years. When I started this journey, I told myself "nothing, absolutely nothing would stand in my way", and nothing did until a global pandemic crushed our dream.
What I write now, I write for other entrepreneurs, leaders, and dreamers.
So we have failed, but more importantly, I have failed. No, no, I do not say this to elicit sympathy. As entrepreneurs, we must face our biggest fear... failure. As a leader, the responsibility is ultimately mine. My team did everything I could have and did ask of them; and much more. They sacrificed selflessly, they put in incredibly long hours and dedication. They and even their families sacrificed for this dream we shared together. THEY did all that they could and I am incredibly grateful to them and their families for all the support they've given.
As their leader, it is I who must accept blame. It is I who has failed. I believe there is ALWAYS a way to accomplish anything in life, and I did not find that way. The pandemic is a worthy excuse, but that is all it is; an excuse. Looking back, there is a myriad of things that could have been done differently to ensure our survival but I can only see them now with 2020 vision (no pun intended ;).
"Why are you being so hard on yourself", you might ask? My answer is simply I'm not.
After more than 12 years as an entrepreneur, I have experienced many failures and some successes. Because of these experiences I have come to understand that our greatest power lies within embracing what we fear. I can tell you now, failure is nothing to fear, it should be embraced for what it can teach you. Failure is simply an opportunity to learn... and this is how you ultimately win.
When I was 24 years old, in college, I joined the boxing team at the Air Force Academy. My goal was to face my greatest fear... failure. I had always avoided individual sports and to be honest, I was scared of fighting in general. I mean who wants to go in the ring knowing there's a very high likelihood... you are definitely getting punched in the face! No thanks. And, top that, if you lose, you have no one else to share the failure with; it's just you.
I joined the boxing team to simply make it through one season and my hope was by the end I would lose this fear of failure and that at some point, I figured, I wouldn't be afraid to step into the ring... WRONG! I was freaking TERRIFIED each bout. Each fight I couldn't sleep the night before, praying that I would not die or hurt the other person too bad. I just wanted to make it through one season, accomplish my goal, that is all.
The problem was... I kept winning, I lost two fights, during the season, but in post-season I ending up beating those opponents. I made my way to my final match, the national championship, with a broken eardrum and broken nose. It was the only fight I walked into wanting to win because it was the last fight and I wouldn't have to fight again after it.
Long story short, it was a terrific fight. The final round is what got me. My corner actually had to throw in the towel with seconds left because I would not give up. So, I lost! I failed on the national stage!
I was devasted inside after the fight. I had let myself imagine this storybook ending where I pushed myself through all this fear and ending up winning the championship. I thought that's how I was supposed to learn to never fear failure again. I thought it was destiny... NOPE!
I woke up the next day, the world didn't end, I didn't die, my nose looked like hamburger meat inside and I was swabbing blood out of my broken ear, but something happened...
I looked into the mirror and thought to myself about the two fights I lost earlier that season. How I took those losses, studied film, worked hard on technique, got in better shape and I won the next time I fought those opponents. I realized then, the fear of failure never goes away and it shouldn't. But, how we perceive and deal with fear and failure can change and they should.
Fear is a tool to make sure we give everything we've got, that we prepare as best we can. But, if we fail, nothing changes. We can go on, we can get up, learn from the failure, train, become better, and fight another day. That morning I looked in the mirror and knew that if I ever fought him again, I would win! That loss taught me everything I needed to know about life and entrepreneurship.
Whenever you feel fear, you can see it as a gift to become sharper, faster, better. Whenever you get knocked down, you can always get up. You can learn, grow, get better and fight on. Unfortunately, you can't do any of that if you don't accept the responsibility of the loss. Excepting responsibility allows you to take ownership of your process to become better.
You don't need to wallow in your loss. You don't need to ruminate on your failure. It's just part of living, especially if you're doing something new or innovative. You simply need to acknowledge it, look back on what you could have done better, and then take action to improve.
That's how you ultimately win! And we will win!!!
I have an amazing team, I couldn't ask for better co-founders. Selfless, humble, but tenacious in their drive and ambition to best the best at whatever they do. Our goal is to stick together as a team and we are learning as a team what we can do better next time.
As we close things down with Bravrr we will continue to support our current users, but the exciting news is that we are already working on a new venture. This one sits within a $460B market and has incredible potential. Stay tuned... :)