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Bad Marketing Failures

38 Failed Startups with Bad Marketing Efforts

Here's a list of 38 failed startups with bad marketing efforts, analyses on why they shut down, and interviews with their founders.

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Countless startups around the world are being launched every week.

Many fail because they did not learn from the success of other companies who've managed to rise above.

We just published this list of 38 startups that failed due to bad marketing efforts, along with analyses on why they shut down and interviews with their founders.


38 Failed Startups with Bad Marketing Efforts

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Call9

Call9

Call9 was a health startup targeted at patients who needed to speak with a doctor. The founder's inability to achieve growth, led to its shut down in 2019.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Celina Tenev, Timothy Peck, XiaoSong Mu

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Health

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Fab

Fab

Fab was an e-commerce company focused on daily design inspiration. Its success resulted in companies launching their same exact replicas of Fab’s platform.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Bradford Shane Shellhammer, Deepa Shah, Jason Goldberg, Nishith Shah, Sunil Khedar

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    500-1,000

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Laurel & Wolf

Laurel & Wolf

Laurel & Wolf was a marketplace for interior design solutions. They shut down due to large spendings on marketing and a bad reputation among customers.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Brandon Kleinman, Leura Fine

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    Active

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Lumos

Lumos

Lumos provided the ultimate smart switching tech. After the shutdown, the founders recognized they were not the right team to build a hardware company.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Pritesh Sankhe, Tarkeshwar Singh, Yash Kotak

  • Country:

    India

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    1-10

  • Funding Amount:

    No Data

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Experience

You can read more about their failure here.

Munchery

Munchery

Munchery allowed users to order gourmet food. However, they couldn't deliver the experience that it promised and build a profitable business model.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Conrad Chu, Tri Tran, Van Tran

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

MySpace

MySpace

MySpace became the most popular social networking site before Facebook. After competing with them, they decided to repurpose it as a platform for artists.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Aber Whitcomb, Brad Greenspan, Chris DeWolfe, Colin Digiaro, Josh Berman, Michael Addicott, Tom Anderson

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2003

  • Closed in:

    Active

  • Nº of employees:

    250-500

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Quibi

Quibi

An analysis on why did Quibi, a short-form video streaming platform, shut down despite raising $2 billion from investors and having an experienced team.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jeffrey Katzenberg

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Nº of employees:

    250-500

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Rdio

Rdio

Rdio was a music streaming service. Its weakness was the non-existent marketing and distribution strategy. Spotify ramped up and Rdio went out of business.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Carter Adamson, Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Music

  • Started in:

    2008

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Sip

Sip

Sip was made by ProductHunt. It covered news in the tech industry in a bite-size format. Due to no market need and lack of focus, PH shut it down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Ryan Hoover, Nick Abouzeid, Chad Whitaker

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    1-10

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

SpoonRocket

SpoonRocket

SpoonRocket was a food delivery service making healthy meals each day. When their financial situation declined, they failed to fundraise to stay afloat.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Anson Tsui, Steven Hsiao

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Transpose

Transpose

Transpose was a comprehensive information management platform. Operated for two years before shutting down due to the inability to generate enough revenue.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Hussein Ahmed, Matt Goyer, Samah Gad, Skyler Johnson-Wagner

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Tutorspree

Tutorspree

Tutorspree wanted to enhance tutoring. Their vision of pairing up tutors and students to meet up in person was not practical, which made it shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Aaron Harris, Josh Abrams, Ryan Bednar

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Education

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Utrip

Utrip

Utrip was a travel planning startup that used AI to create personalized itineraries. Keeping the recommendation engine alive was too much for them.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Gilad Berenstein, Yair Berenstein

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Travel

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Mismanagement of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Zulily

Zulily

Zulily was an online store selling clothing and other products. They declined in popularity because of their poor marketing and user-attention strategies.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Darrell Cavens, Mark Vadon

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    Active

  • Nº of employees:

    1,000-5,000

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

140 Canvas

140 Canvas

After dropping out of university, Harry went back home and found a gift: a fake big tweet from Federer. That’s when he came with a business idea: fake tweets printed and sold for £30. He partnered with a friend and launched the project within 2 months. However, after a Youtube’s influencer campaign, the site got 17,000 visitors and only 20 sales. That’s when they realized not so many people were interested in their product...

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Harry Dry

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

ABBY

ABBY

ABBY was a documentation service for A/B tests. To make such a service successful, Andy would have needed to educate the users, and that was not possible.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Andy Goldschmidt

  • Country:

    Germany

  • Industry:

    Analytics

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Addressbin

Addressbin

Addressbin was an easy way to collect email addresses. Bad marketing and big competitors where the problems that dug its grave.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Adam Bard

  • Country:

    Canada

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Cam.ly

Cam.ly

Dane built Cam.ly, a wifi camera that would stream and store video in the cloud. They competed with Google Nest's predecessor but failed to build a polished product before convincing investors to fund it.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Dane Jensen

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    2010

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Poor Product

You can read more about their failure here.

Community Coders

Community Coders

While in university, Kaito started Community Coders, a business that connected companies looking for web development and digital marketing services with high school students. However, as the months went over, it became difficult to close deals and the startup began to lose its course until they shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Kaito Cunningham

  • Country:

    Canada

  • Industry:

    Education

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Management

You can read more about their failure here.

Eloquis

Eloquis

Eloquis was all about bringing personalization to mobile apps. The problem? Early in the market and targeted the wrong customer segment.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Rohit Nallapeta

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2011

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

ExploreVR

ExploreVR

Andrey Norin is a budding entrepreneur, responsible for all the successes and the failures of ExploreVR. This was a directory site focused 100% on virtual reality. He started it in 2017 and shut down a few months later. His lack of experience in creating a business from scratch was the main cause of failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Andrey Norin

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Experience

You can read more about their failure here.

Gulp

Gulp

Jeff Orr and two friends in college started Gulp- an app to pay bar cover. Gulp was meant to replace the inconvenience of having to go an ATM to pay for a bar’s cover fee, but with the lack of affiliate marketing knowledge and some bad unit economics, the friends quickly ran out of money.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jeff Orr

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Habitual

Habitual

Holger Sindbaek is the founder of Habitual, a habit-tracking app that was initially created since Holger could not find an app that could suit his habit-tracking needs after reading Atomic Habits book. With other successful apps under his belt like a Solitaire card game played by 3M people per month, it seems like he has the knack of making startups fly. So what went wrong with Habitual? Discover it in this interview.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Holger Sindbaek

  • Country:

    Denmark

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2019

  • Closed in:

    2021

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Lieferoo

Lieferoo

In 2014, Aazar, a Pakistani entrepreneur, decided to create an Uber for logistics and awkward items trying to solve a problem he and many other people were having: Bringing items from Pakistan to Germany. He soon validated the idea and built the product. But a combination of bad marketing and bad team fit led to their failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Aazar Shad

  • Country:

    Germany

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Mongoose Cricket

Mongoose Cricket

In 2009, Thomas Evans began working alongside Marcus, the creator of a radical new cricket bat named the Mongoose. After spending over $130,000 on glitzy marketing, and failing to break through the heavily traditional cricket market, they were forced to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Thomas Evans

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    2011

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

MotoBox

MotoBox

Simple, WiFi-enabled, OBD-II vehicle data logger and cloud services creating a platform for custom software development, which couldn’t reach customers.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Joe Stech

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Muun

Muun

Eelco built Muun in his own, a SaaS that allowed co-working spaces owners to run their businesses effectively. He validated the idea and after weeks, he launched it. However, once in the market, Muun had to compete with really big competitors which had much more features and a better pricing. So, Eelco decided to shut it down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Eelco

  • Country:

    Netherlands

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

NE Lounge

NE Lounge

Following his objective of reaching $10k/month from his online businesses, Jake launched NE Lounge, an Amazon FBA store selling inflatable products. 1 year and $16,000 later, the startup shut down. Choosing the wrong product in an unfamiliar niche is the cause to blame.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jake Lang

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Playdate

Playdate

Logan was the CEO and CTO of Playdate, an on-demand social networking app. In two years, the startup grew to a team of 7 at its peak and 5,000 monthly active users. However, a collection of causes made the startup uninvestable and they eventually run out of money.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Logan Rado

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Readership

Readership

Gregg Blanchard developed Readership from a fascination with Twitter API. While the visual analytics on Readership was appealing, it didn’t bring enough marketing value to get the buy-in needed to be a successful start-up.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Gregg Blanchard

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Analytics

  • Started in:

    2019

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Sharkius

Sharkius

Sharkius was a social games company. It grew too fast, too quickly. It reached $80k/month revenue within months and wasted it. Learn from their mistakes!

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    David Kramaley

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2007

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Tailor

Tailor

Joe is a 25-year-old founder who, following Pieter Levels example, decided to build 12 startups in 12 months. Doing some A/B testing for his other projects, he found the existing tools had a lot of missing features and decided to spend 2 months full-time working on a new solution. But things didn't go well...

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Joe D’elia

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    Analytics

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Taleship

Taleship

Sergio Mattei is an 18-year-old entrepreneur who built Taleship, a social writing application. He developed it himself when he was 16 and participated in a startup competition. Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but was able to get a lot of experience and knowledge that allowed him to grow it to +600 users. Hurricane Maria demotivated Sergio, who finally decided to shut down Taleship.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Sergio Mattei Diaz

  • Country:

    Puerto Rico

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Focus

You can read more about their failure here.

Thepresence

Thepresence

Inspired by the iOS app Launchpad, Miloslav Voloskov started drafting ideas to what eventually was called Thepresence. This aimed to provide a more modern and unconventional take on website builders. But this venture got shut down even before it was able to take off. A mental illness shutting down a business that could have changed the drag-and-drop website builder game? It’s more likely than you think.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Miloslav Voloskov

  • Country:

    Russia

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Other

You can read more about their failure here.

Twitch Highlights

Twitch Highlights

Tzelon and Ron are two developers who came with an idea: creating a tool that allowed Twitch streamers analyze their streams and creating short videos with the best moments. But they failed to build an audience around the product and couldn’t get any customers to keep going with the project.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Tzelon Machluf

  • Country:

    Israel

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Uptrend

Uptrend

Maverick shifted from being an athlete to becoming an entrepreneur after seriously pondering what he wanted in life. He founded Uptrend, a deal sourcing agency for M&A firms in the US. He had some trial and errors initially but found his footing after he met an M&A advisor on a Facebook group who became his accountability partner. However, the business eventually closed down in January 2020 due to burnout and not having a foreseeable future.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Maverick Lim

  • Country:

    Singapore

  • Industry:

    Marketing

  • Started in:

    2019

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Vivalatina

Vivalatina

Nicolas started an e-Commerce that imported sterling silver jewelry from Mexico and resold it in France. His lack of knowledge on marketing made it impossible to him to achieve customers. After some big mistakes, he decided to shut it down and start re-thinking the business model. He is now making $7,200/Month.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Nicolas Tranchant

  • Country:

    Mexico

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2014

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

Waterproof Digital Camera

Waterproof Digital Camera

Waterproof Digital Camera was a blog earning $250/month. Primoz started to look for faster results and carried out Black Hat SEO strategies. It was the failure of his business.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Primoz Cigler

  • Country:

    Slovenia

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Marketing

You can read more about their failure here.

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