Over the past decade, I’ve been on a mission to improve life at work. Many of my solutions are experimental and weird (MetroNaps, for example), so I expect my failures to outnumber my successes. It’s therefore vitally important for my team and me to fail fast, then move on. This is why we’re closing ClearGears.
ClearGears was going sideways. We had a few passionate customers willing to pay for it, but we never got mainstream traction. We mistook enthusiasm from our first users as a sign that we should build a big business around the product. We were wrong.
We never found a perfect product-market fit. We built a product few people needed. We made it easy for small companies to conduct 360º performance reviews, only to learn (gradually) that small companies don’t often do 360º reviews, and few believe it’s worth paying for. While bigger companies pay for 360º review systems, they expect an enterprise-worthy solution that connects to their existing HR systems, an enterprise sales process, and consultants to help set it up. Our 5-man team could never do all that.
We stopped believing in it. A final, equally important reason we’re closing is because we stopped loving what we were doing. It turns out that ClearGears is at times devastatingly effective. In some cases, people were quitting or getting fired as a result of the continual feedback, and that’s not a product we want to put into the world.
What’s next? ClearGears has launched a new product called Interview Jet. It’s an extremely simple service that connects companies with talented people. Instead of paying a recruiter $20,000 or more to find and place people, employers can sign up for the free Interview Jet emails. We find good people and, if employers want to interview them, they pay us to make the introduction. Instead of getting people fired, we’re going to get them hired.