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Productivity Failures

17 Failed Productivity Startups & their Case Studies

Startups are hard and becoming a successful one is even harder, so here is a list of 17 failed productivity startups that you can learn from.

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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 17 failed Productivity startups as well as analyses on why they closed down.


17 Failed Productivity Startups

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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.

Delicious

Delicious

Delicious was a social bookmarking site founded in 2003. Similar tools started to dominate the sector. They were finally bought by Pinboard for a bargain.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Joshua Schachter

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2003

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Nº of employees:

    50-100

  • Funding Amount:

    No Data

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Acquisition Flu

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.

Kiko

Kiko

Kiko was a calendar app offering API integrations with other tools. The team worked on various ideas and plans at the same time, which led to its failure.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Emmett Shear, Justin Kan

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2003

  • Closed in:

    2008

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    < $1M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Management

You can read more about their failure here.

Mailbox

Mailbox

Mailbox made your inbox more manageable and efficient. They didn't find a way to monetize the app. After being acquired by Dropbox, Mailbox shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Gentry Underwood, Scott Cannon

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Nº of employees:

    500-1,000

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Business Model

You can read more about their failure here.

Netscape

Netscape

Netscape was one of the most significant internet applications in history. Despite its early success, they couldn't beat Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    James Clark, Jon Mittelhauser, Marc Andreessen

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    1994

  • Closed in:

    2008

  • Nº of employees:

    5,000-10,000

  • Funding Amount:

    No Data

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Poor Product

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.

Springpad

Springpad

Springpad was designed to empower users to clip, organize, and interpret all types of web content. The company failed to develop a monetization strategy.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jason Horman

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2008

  • Closed in:

    2014

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$10M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Focus

You can read more about their failure here.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise was a calendar app for mobile and desktop. They had good reviews from users, but calendars are hard to monetize and they have a low entry barrier.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Jeremy Le Van, Pierre Valade

  • Country:

    France

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2012

  • 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.

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.

Formatically

Formatically

Duncan Hamra has been building businesses with his best friend Tyler since they were in high school. They built Formatically, an instant citation tool that didn't take off. We'll discuss what went wrong with this project, and how those learnings helped him start Memberstack.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Duncan Hamra

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Education

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • 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.

MotionThink

MotionThink

After moving to SF, Andrew joined a startup accelerator that included a co-founder dating phase. There, he met some co-founders with whom he built MotionThink, a startup that built productivity tools for freelancers. Some months and +$100,000 after, the startup was shut down. Learn what went wrong!

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Andrew Chen

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2012

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Management

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.

Patron.ai

Patron.ai

Ömer launched patron.ai, a gamification platform for developer teams. After promoting it on Twitter and Product Hunt without getting much traction, he decided to shut down the project. That decision was mainly due to a lack of product-market fit and not talking enough to users that signed up.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Ömer Taban

  • Country:

    Turkey

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Swipes

Swipes

With 2 partners, Stefan co-founded Swipes, a company that developed productivity tools. The startup went through all stages and experiences, even almost fundraising $1M. However, over the 6 years of running, they weren’t able to really find product-market fit and they eventually ran out of money.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Stefan Vladimirov

  • Country:

    Bulgaria

  • Industry:

    Productivity

  • Started in:

    2013

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    < $100K

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Teamometer

Teamometer

When reading the Lean Startup book, Sergio came up with an idea he wanted to validate: a SaaS to help teams to perform at a higher level. The validation was done successfully, but since then, mistakes related to technology, founding team and listening to customers, meant its shut down 2 years later.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Sergio Schüler

  • Country:

    Brazil

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2012

  • Closed in:

    2013

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

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