Learn how to validate your startup idea by pre-selling it, for only $80 (includes a free 1-hour consultancy call).
Entertainment Failures

31 Failed Entertainment Startups & their Case Studies

Here are 31 failed e-commerce startups that have shut down in the last years, analyses on their failure, and interviews with their founders.

Ad

Startup Foundations

Gain traction with your startup right now. In this free video series, learn tactical strategies proven to deliver results. Get free access to Startup Foundations →

There are a lot of things to consider when building a new startup - where to get funding, how to validate your idea, and what features should the product have.

One of the challenges is finding a market that is willing to pay for your solution without even knowing what it is yet.

However, 90% of startups will fail and shut down.

In this article, you can find 31 failed Entertainment startups as well as analyses on why they closed down.


31 Failed Entertainment Startups

Ad

Startup Foundations

Gain traction with your startup right now. In this free video series, learn tactical strategies proven to deliver results. Get free access to Startup Foundations →

Circa

Circa

Circa had the mission of ‘fixing’ what was wrong with journalism. They suffered a financial breakdown and were copied by giants in the news sector.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Arsenio Santos, Ben Huh, Matt Galligan

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Digg

Digg

Digg had the mission of "democratizing" the content and news that people saw. However, it missed lots of opportunities to become a thriving social network.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Kevin Rose

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2004

  • Closed in:

    Active

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Dinner Lab

Dinner Lab

Dinner Lab offered a culinary experience with a group of strangers in an unusual place. They faced several problems, including the diner's timing.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Brian Bordainick, Francisco Robert, Zach Kupperman

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Flowtab

Flowtab

Flowtab was an app that solved the problem of long queues in bars. They tried several business models but never found a profitable one, so they shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Mike Townsend

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Flud

Flud

Flud was a social news reader platform. They were unable to raise additional funding for their operations and eventually ran out of cash.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Bobby Ghoshal, Matthew Ausonio

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Friendster

Friendster

Friendster was a social gaming site widely popular in Asia. It never put emphasis on the social news feed feature, leading to poor usage and registrations.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jonathan Abrams

  • Country:

    Philippines

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2001

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of PMF

You can read more about their failure here.

Gowalla

Gowalla

Gowalla was a location-based social platform that allowed users to share their location. It tried to do many things at once, and shut down after 5 years.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Josh Williams, Scott Raymond

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2007

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

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.

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.

Vine

Vine

What happened to Vine?! Why did it shut down? When? Does TikTok face the same risk? Here's our detailed analysis.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Colin Kroll, Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    No Data

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Multiple Reasons

You can read more about their failure here.

Vreal

Vreal

Vreal was a virtual reality startup that enabled users to interact with content creators. They were ahead of their time in a market not fully developed.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Todd Hooper

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    Active

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Timing

You can read more about their failure here.

101 Studios

101 Studios

101 Studios was a producer of video games that taught users things while they played. They went with a “business to professor” business model, but despite professors like the idea, they wouldn’t implement it in their classes. The startup could never reach product-market fit and shut down months later.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Matt “GundayMonday” Sever

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Education

  • Started in:

  • Closed in:

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

DotaHaven

DotaHaven

Kyril is the founder of DotaHaven, a gaming content site that’s currently passing away. The website had early success, raising $90k, growing from 0 to 500k page views/mo in 6 months and making $3.5/mo at its peak. However, in the last months, the business has struggled to make enough money to keep running; over-investment in a non-validated concept is one of the reasons for their failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Kyril Kotashev

  • Country:

    Bulgaria

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Gameslog

Gameslog

Gameslog was a gaming site monetized with affiliate marketing. But the site never took off, as the market was already saturated.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Michael Hebenstreit

  • Country:

    Germany

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2014

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

Gawkbox

Gawkbox

GawkBox was a platform where viewers of live streams could play mobile games to donate real money to streamers. Chris co-founded this as his first startup and he was able to successfully raise $4.4M in venture funding, which the startup invested in marketing until they achieved 500k users and more than $1M in revenue. However, multiple mistakes and a series of reasons led to their shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Christopher Brownridge

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$5M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Hawthorne Strategies

Hawthorne Strategies

Michael Hawthorne Jr. was the founder of Atlanta-based consulting agency Hawthorne Strategies LLC. The agency worked with NFL Players to develop their philanthropic foundations and awareness campaigns to address community issues that they cared about. Read on to know how overwhelm, overwork, and failing to scale led the potentially-profitable business to the ground.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Michael Hawthorne

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Hubrif

Hubrif

Tobi Ogunwande is a Nigerian filmmaker who tried to build the Netflix for African short films as a result of his frustration to find great African movies. He partnered with a technical co-founder and soon after launching, they were seeing an average of 1,000 views on their films. However, they soon realized the market niche was too small and there wasn’t a clear business model. Eventually, they run out of money and shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Tobi Ogunwande

  • Country:

    Nigeria

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Kaya.gs

Kaya.gs

In 2011, Gabriel decided to build a Go Server that would launch new features every few weeks. He and his co-founder built and launched it in 2 months and in the following months, they raised $20,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. 1 year into running and they were shut down: product, engineering, and morale were the problems to blame.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Gabriel Benmergui

  • Country:

    Argentina

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Poor Product

You can read more about their failure here.

Kolos

Kolos

In 2012, Ivo started a 3-year journey building a business that sold iPad racing wheels, which would suck up $50,000 in personal and investor funds. The hardware accelerator he went through wasn't able to help turn his business into a success, neither was the Kickstarter campaign successful. Learning from the experience, today Ivo runs $1M+ crowdfunding campaigns. Read below to learn about his journey.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Ivaylo Kalburdzhiev

  • Country:

    Bulgaria

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Lernin Games

Lernin Games

Jordi Miró has been building products and companies since 2007. After a successful CTO experience in Wuaki TV, he founded Lernin Games, an EdTech startup focused on toddlers. He raised €1.5M and built a team of 10, but Lernin ran out of cash and the project couldn’t succeed.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jordi Miró

  • Country:

    Spain

  • Industry:

    Education

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$5M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Lockpick Entertainment

Lockpick Entertainment

Lockpick Entertainment was a small game studio, that created Dreamlords, a famous MMORTS game. They did it well, making thousands per month. But they began to increase the scope, and after 6 years, they went out of business due to bankruptcy.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jesper Bylund

  • Country:

    Sweden

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2006

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Competition

You can read more about their failure here.

openmargin

openmargin

Marc co-founded *openmargin, a social e-reader app that turned books into small communities. Being too early in the market, having huge competitors like Amazon, and not shipping fast enough were three of the reasons for the startup’s failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Marc Köhlbrugge

  • Country:

    Netherlands

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2009

  • Closed in:

    2014

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Focus

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.

Sport Draftr

Sport Draftr

Will created Sport Draftr, a Daily Fantasy Sports site in the UK, offering leagues in the English Premier League, and UEFA Champions League. The product was loved, looked great, and it worked well, but due to a lack of knowledge in the gambling industry and changes in legislation, they were forced to close the company.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Will Laurenson

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Tandem

Tandem

Tandem was a live streaming platform for fitness. Cause of failure? Live fitness isn't that engaging. Influencers were reluctant to adopt a new platform.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Nick Raushenbush

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Health

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

The Nerd Cave

The Nerd Cave

The Nerd Cave was a new kind of retail model, a truly safe space for gamers of all kinds to go and enjoy their passion and hobby. They were doing it great, earning $16,000 AUD/month. But when they moved to a new location, they saw a big loss of income, which provoked the closure of their doors.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    David Desi

  • Country:

    Australia

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

ToyGaroo

ToyGaroo

Toygaroo was the Netflix of toys. Funded by a great group of people based in Los Angeles, the company appeared on Shark Tank asking $100k for a 10% stake. They ended up raising $250K in 2 funding rounds, but after some months, they had to shut down the company. Inventory and logistical costs were too high, so capital rapidly disappeared.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Phil Smy

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    e-Commerce

  • Started in:

    2010

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

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.

WURA

WURA

WURA was an on-demand video platform for African and Nollywood movies. Mike hired a few developers to build it and spent $35,000 on Facebook marketing. The business grew fast and he was making $3,861 per month. However, YouTube competition and cash flow killed the startup.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Michael Ojo

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Entertainment

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Yottio

Yottio

Jon was one of the Yottio’s co-founders, a mobile-first tool that enabled video participation on broadcast television. The startup went through all experiences, including making $200k in revenue, spending $150k for operations, a co-founder leaving the business and a $20m acquisition offer. However, Yottio eventually ran out of cash and shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Jon Lawrence

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

Zapstream

Zapstream

Zapstream was a social live streaming platform, which competed with Meerkat and Periscope. The startup raised $1m from angels and grew from 0 to 100k users. However, a combination of dwindling engagement, mismanagement of money, and the inability to fundraise further, led to their shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Devan Sood

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Social Media

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$5M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Mismanagement of Funds

You can read more about their failure here.

The All-In-One Newsletter for Startup Founders

Every week, I’ll send you Failory’s latest interviews and articles, curated resources for founders, and updates on how I’m growing the site to $10k/mo. Join +7,000 other startup founders!