Fifty entrepreneurs, employees and students based on the Costa del Sol gathered in Malaga last week to share business experiences. There were no success stories, however; the speakers had gone along to share their failures.
The event was part of the international Fuckup Nights movement, which began as a group of friends in Mexico talking about their failed companies over a beer. Now, 120 cities around the world hold regular events where entrepreneurs can network and listen to others tell them where they went wrong in the past.
This was the third Malaga Fuckup Night, held at the Living Room coworking space in the city centre. Organiser Julia Sycheva works in sales and marketing but hopes one day to set up her own business.
"Running the event is great for me because I get to hear about what not to do in the business world," she told SUR in English. She has lived and worked around Europe and went to her first Fuckup Night in the Czech Republic. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to get involved in the Malaga edition.
The first speaker was Living Room co-founder Ben Kolp, originally from Austria. He explained how he had decided to set up his own business, Orca Social, with two former colleagues four years ago. The business was designed to facilitate commercial connections between large B2B companies. He admitted that one of his biggest mistakes was trying to "marry" together all three of them, admitting that he spent a lot more time with his colleagues than he did his actual partner. Luckily for Ben, he had enough of a financial cushion to be able to relocate to Malaga and invest in a new project, the much more successful Living Room.
Arturo Moya, a Spanish business consultant, also told his failure story, this time a more local one. He set up his own extra virgin olive oil company in 2000 following an investment from Santander bank. His mistake was that he tried to eliminate his 15 telesales employees in order to cut costs, thinking that the business would be as successful using the fledgling internet. This proved to be a disaster and the business soon failed.
"I still believe in the idea in principle," he said, "It's just that reality doesn't always live up to your expectations."
Brenda Padilla Ericksen, an American cross-cultural trainer, had gone along to share her experiences with public speaking. She told the story of one of her first jobs, to produce a presentation on anti-ageing treatments for a panel of businesswomen. The presentation that she put together was very critical of the industry; "I realised that it was all just a scam," she said, but her audience clearly disagreed and were soon laughing and talking over her. The experience turned out to be a one-day blip in Brenda's successful public speaking and radio career, and she went on to found the Malaga branch of Toastmasters.
The Living Room has recently been given the Members' Choice Award as the best coworking space in Malaga by Coworker.com. Since 2015, more than 100 freelancers and startups from over 20 countries have shared the space in Malaga.
"The city is becoming an oasis for digital nomads from around the world," said co-founder Ben Kolp.
"Don't go for world domination initially; dream big and start small."
"Reality doesn't always live up to your expectations."
"Don't worry about failure. You can come back from almost anything if you believe in yourself."