Edrizio De La Cruz | Crain's Philadelphia

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Edrizio De La Cruz

Background:  

Regalii is a platform that banks and financial institutions use to let their customers pay bills anywhere in the world.  

The Mistake: 

We launched originally with a consumer-directed mobile app for paying services. In the early days, [to sell] our product, we would do things like stand on corners and hand out flyers, dress in banana suits and get people to use the app literally on the streetWe had an "If you spend $25, we'd give you $25" giveaway. We did every kind of price, every kind of discount and got a lot of press.  

But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many people are adopting your platform. If every one user is not bringing at least one [more] user, you will never be successful. If you map that out in the long run, you will not get enough growthWe spent a lot of money to pursue a goal that ultimately didn't succeed. It was a [tremendous] loss of financial and human capital.  

You have to be able to walk away from your ideas ...

The Lesson:  

Don't be overly attached to anything. You have to be able to walk away from your ideas and be completely honest when something is not working. It is hard because it's a part of human habit to believe your own ideas. But now we are now much more stringent about being detached whenever we experiment with new products.

I was attached to the business model. If you think about consumer-facing, it is very sexy. We hear about Facebook, Uber and Twitter all the time. We rarely hear about Stripe or Square, but they are [successful] companies. They're not consumer-facing, so [consumers] don't care about them as much. I was very attached to the glamour of having a consumer-facing product.  

What we learned, and it took us almost a year to realize this, is selling to consumers is counterintuitive. If you think of all the times you've tried to change how you do things, it's not often. So you have to educate peoplecoerce and incentivize themdo that and scale   

Follow Edrizio De La Cruz on Twitter at @EdrizioCruz. 

Photo courtesy of Edrizio De La Cruz.

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