Watermelons burst when dropped. Let’s just say, that’s what happened with Dutch startup Watermelon. Tomorrow, the prolific Utrecht based company that provided businesses with a customer service dashboard for Whatsapp, will be declared bankrupt. According to founder and CEO Alexander Wijninga on Facebook, that’s not the only reason why the ‘young entrepeneur of year’-award winning startup will cease to exist.
Facebook summoned Watermelon
It was only four months ago that Facebook summoned Watermelon to cease the use of its service on Whatsapp, as Silicon Canals first reported (in Dutch). Although the Facebook owned company doesn’t have an official API, Watermelon stated it was not violating the terms and conditions of the messaging service. “We’re in a grey area”, Wijninga said at the time.
At the Sprout 25 under 25 event this year, Wijninga was awarded young entrepreneur 2016 and seemed still optimistic on the future of the company. He claimed to have a “Plan B” in place – in fact, chatbots. The bumpy ride for the year and half old startup is over as Wijninga claims the company will be declared bankrupt, tomorrow (Thursday) morning in the Utrecht court. That’s not the sole reason though, according to the same message: the company got torn apart by “differences of opinion” between the founders. CEO Wijninga and COO Charl Haas couldn’t “keep the company running”. A third founder, Daan Gönning, had already left the company.
Rife with internal conflict
Rumor has it, the company was in fact already rife with internal conflict. The reported number of clients (800) were suspect to be inflated in the media, the staff wasn’t paid for months and investors grew weary of the (mis)management of the two founders.
Now, a young and media savvy startup seems to come to a grinding halt. Or shall we say, the watermelon finally burst. Perhaps, media savviness was all they were known for to begin with. We’ll see what the future will bring, as Wijninga promises to start over fresh, with a new endeavour.
Image: Watermelon during launch, last year in Utrecht.