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Subscription Failures

31 Failed Subscription Startups & Analyses on Why they Failed

Startups are hard and becoming a successful one is even harder, so here is a list of 31 failed subscription startups that you can learn from.

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The Subscription model sector is a competitive one.

But at the same time, it can be really lucrative.

Thousands of Subscription startups have emerged in the last years and a lot of money has flown into them

However, the majority of these startups have since shut down.

In this article, you can find some of them as well as analysis on why they failed.


31 Failed Subscription Startups

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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.

DotCloud

DotCloud

dotCloud was a PaaS for developers that enabled them to host, assemble and run their applications. They could not sustain operation costs by themselves.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Solomon Hykes

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2008

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    250-500

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Mismanagement of Funds

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.

ScaleFactor

ScaleFactor

ScaleFactor was a tech startup that claimed to automate SME bookkeeping and payroll thanks to an AI they were developing in-house, which wasn't the case.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Kurt Rathmann

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Finances

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Nº of employees:

    100-250

  • Funding Amount:

    > $50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Poor Product

You can read more about their failure here.

Shuddle

Shuddle

Shuddle was the go-to service for parents that needed someone to drive their kids to school. Parents found it disappointing, so they had to shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founders:

    Nick Allen, Rodrigo Prudencio

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Transportation

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Nº of employees:

    10-50

  • Funding Amount:

    $10M-$50M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

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.

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.

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.

Ansaro

Ansaro

Sam was one of the co-founders of Ansaro, a SaaS that aimed to revolutionize the recruiting industry through the use of technologies like AI. They raised $2.25M from institutional investors and $750K from friends and family, grew the team to 6 members and earned in total $100k. But with expenses of $70k/month and no product-market fit, they had to shut down 2 years later.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Sam Stone

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $1M-$5M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Chowdy

Chowdy

Steve and his housemate were always complaining food was expensive in Toronto. So, they came with a solution: hire a chef for themselves and 20 friends. This simple idea quickly escalated into a business, that, within a few months, was making +$110,000 per month. But, as it went up fast, it also came down rapidly. The business was involved in some legal problems, which forced the founders to shut it down. Read Steve’s failure story and learn from his mistakes!

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Steven Long

  • Country:

    Canada

  • Industry:

    Food & Beverage

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2016

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Legal Challenges

You can read more about their failure here.

Creator Growth Lab

Creator Growth Lab

Andrew Kamphey has started several projects related to creators and influencer marketing. One of them was Creator Growth Lab, a tool to help Instagram creators grow by themselves. He invested $5,000, never made a penny, and realized there was no need for that product.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Andrew Kamphey

  • Country:

    Indonesia

  • Industry:

    Analytics

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Dependence on Others

You can read more about their failure here.

Delite

Delite

Delite was a SaaS platform for B2B wholesale orders. It didn’t satisfy any necessity of customers. Just that thing in life you keep putting off.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Patrick Walls

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2016

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Eventloot

Eventloot

Justin Anyanwu is a maker who a few years ago built Eventloot, a SaaS platform for wedding planning professionals. He hired some designers and developers and got the SaaS working. But after a few months of running Facebook Ads and sending cold emails, they decided to shut it down. They hadn’t built a platform that solved the problems wedding planners had.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Justin Anyanwu

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2014

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Graphite Docs

Graphite Docs

Justin Hunter had the courage to challenge Google Docs, all because he was scared of losing all his writing saved in the cloud. So he created Graphite Docs, a privacy-focused alternative to Google Docs powered by blockchain, that assured users that their saved files were indeed safe. And the effort paid off; he started gaining traction from individual users. However, he decided to focus on the B2B model, rather than B2C, and this decision cost him the business. Why? Read on to find it out.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Justin Hunter

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    $100K-$500K

  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

Phoenix

Phoenix

Phoenix was a SaaS app to send a last message to the people you love when you die. However, it was the app which died first.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Enrique Benitez

  • Country:

    Mexico

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

You can read more about their failure here.

Profitabilly

Profitabilly

Natagon is an entrepreneur from Bali who, trying to solve a problem he was struggling with in his development agency, built a SaaS that mixed a project management software with an accounting one. Using cold-emails, he was soon able to make it profitable, but lack of passion led to its shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Natagon

  • Country:

    Indonesia

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2018

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Focus

You can read more about their failure here.

REPitchbook

REPitchbook

Charlie Reese is a Canadian software developer who came with (what he thought it was) a revolutionary idea for a SaaS business in the real estate industry. Using his knowledge in JavaScript, React, and SQL, he built a prototype in 6 weeks. But he failed to validate his idea and shut down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Charlie Reese

  • Country:

    Canada

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2018

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Poor Product

You can read more about their failure here.

RingDaddy

RingDaddy

Isaac Medeiros is a 23-year-old digital marketer that recently launched his first no-code SaaS project, a mass SMS marketing platform for streamers made with a bunch of no-code tools. We'll discuss how starting using no-code tools helped him realize that building an MVP is easier than ever.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Isaac Medeiros

  • Country:

    Brazil

  • Industry:

    Marketing

  • Started in:

    2020

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

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.

Tali

Tali

Matt created Tali, a timekeeping solution for lawyers powered by voice technology like Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. Like many first start-ups, they encountered many mistakes while trying to build. He created Tali in the effort to help lawyers more effectively keep track of their time instead of using pen and paper. Ultimately, due to a lack of traction and a misfit product market they had to wind things down.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Matthew Volm

  • Country:

    United States

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2017

  • Closed in:

    2019

  • Funding Amount:

    $500K-$1M

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Bad Market Fit

You can read more about their failure here.

Team Voice

Team Voice

Team Voice was a SaaS platform for HR professionals. The problem they were trying to solve turned out to be a human problem, not a technology one.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Kirill Vechtomov

  • Country:

    Canada

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2015

  • Closed in:

    2017

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    No Market Need

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.

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.

Toki

Toki

Vladimir was the founder of Toki, a one-stop solution to finding trends and analytics on TikTok. It started as a side-project, but after launching on Product Hunt, they realized they didn't have a deep connection with the problem they were tackling and lost motivation to keep going.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Vladimir Esaulov

  • Country:

    Russia

  • Industry:

    Marketing

  • Started in:

    2020

  • Closed in:

    2020

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Experience

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.

Watu

Watu

Watu was a temporary staffing app founded by José Pablo Fernández and his business partner. The business was very sticky; once a company started using the app, it was very unlikely for them to leave. So what could have gone wrong!? Read our interview with Pablo below to know more.

Details of the startup:

  • Founder:

    Pablo Fernández

  • Country:

    United Kingdom

  • Industry:

    Software & Hardware

  • Started in:

    2011

  • Closed in:

    2015

  • Funding Amount:

    $0

  • Specific cause of failure:

    Lack of Funds

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.

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