08/13/2012 02:07 pm ET Updated Oct 13, 2012

3 Brilliant Mistakes That Built Companies

Tipping over and falling down isn't just for toddlers.

Even the most intelligent and able-bodied of us take a tumble sometimes--although here's hoping all our grown-up tumbles are slightly more metaphoric (and don't involve as many skinned knees). Whether you're talking about a baby-sized trip-up or a tumble from glory, there's something about experiencing a failure that takes you to unusual territory that's wide open for self-exploration, learning, and re-envisioning your problem. 

A group of people who seem particularly adept at learning from their mistakes are founders of small companies. Here are three of our favorite example of entrepreneurs who've gone to the brink--and have turned things around for the better. 

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