These entrepreneurs lied…and this is what happened

Startups are risky ventures at the best of times so it makes all the sense in the world to be straight-up honest from the get go. Unfortunately for Australian startup Sociabl, their braggadocios lift-off has landed them in some hot water. 

As Mashable reports, a press release sent out last week (January 10, 2016) claimed that a number of A-list stars and celebrities including 5 Seconds of Summer, Richard Branson and Will.I.Am are signed on for the service.

The product is meant to be a fee-based video chat system for musicians, celebrities and people of influence to speak with their fans face-to-face and was founded by Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek – both in their early 20s.

To pick on one of the many names given as ‘on board’, Will.I.Am was described as “ready to go” with the launch of the app despite his management having little to no knowledge of this project’s existence. A tenuous connection with the Black Eye Peas’ US manager was all Sociabl were basing this relationship on.

While we should appreciate the two lads’ innovative and entrepreneurial spirit, there’s no excuse for making such false claims or, giving them the benefit of the doubt, exaggerating the truth to make for a flashier PR mail-out.

Reynolds has maintained that Branson and Will.i.am will be fully involved but have signed the ominous contract tying them to Sociabl but added that “the dotted line is a blurry thing”.

There’s a lesson to be learnt from this if you are a budding startup founder. Be honest from the beginning. It’s much better to surprise your users with celebrity involvement than it is to sell your product with the promise of some.

Now what?