These Startups Tell Their Fail Stories So You Don’t Have To

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

It’s a good idea to look at other people’s mistakes every once in a while. As humorist Sam Levenson once said, “You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” In business, it’s vital that you avoid practices that have “high-risk” written all over them. But that’s not the only way you can fail as a startup.

A site called holds a list of people that know this all too well. Co-created by Niral Patel and Matthew Davies, the site’s aim is to chronicle startup fails for others to learn from. The list comes with the company name, business type (i.e. idea, product), the reason for failure, and even a way to reach the founder on Twitter with a single click.

Patel said in an interview that when the list began to grow, so did the obvious start to emerge: many companies fail simply because of “lack of market fit.” In other words, the company that was being started didn’t actually have a ballpark to be in. It wasn’t a marketing problem. There simply were too few buyers for the service / product.

That’s not to say market fit is the only thing you need to consider as a startup. Other “popular” reasons cited by the failed companies’ respective founders include:

  • out of cash
  • couldn’t compete with marketing giants
  • the deal fell through at the last minute
  • did not scale fast enough
  • users don’t develop a strong habit of contributing content (in the case of a social site)
  • no clear or predictable way to sustainability
  • and even “a lot of reasons” were cited very often

At the time of this writing the list on was just shy of 100 entries – enough to make an idea of what the common mishaps are when jumping head first into the highly-lucrative, but equally-competitive business world of today.

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