shuddle – Trasporto sicuro su richiesta per famiglie

shuddle – Trasporto sicuro su richiesta per famiglie

Shuddle

Safe on-demand transportation for families

General Information
Category
Transportation
Country
United States
Started
In 2014
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2016
Cause of Failure
Lack of Funds
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Two
Name of Founders
Nick Allen, Rodrigo Prudencio
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
2
Total Funding Amount
$12.2M
Number of Investors
6
Description

Shuddle launched with the ambition to become the go-to service for parents with busy schedules that needed someone to drive their kids to their classes.

Shuddle drivers, which were usually moms, teachers, and nannies, were said to have been hand-selected through the extensive screening process so as to assure kids would have a safe, reliable and on time ride service.

Cause of Failure

The company offered a much-needed
service but parents became increasingly disappointed with it. Online reviews of
the company show that the service that claimed to be the safest and most
reliable to children, would routinely leave kids stranded, cancel the booking
at the last moment or make them wait for long times. Shuddle customer support
was also poor and, apparently, often no one would answer or return calls.
Although there were parents routinely used the app and coped with the
shortcomings since there was no other similar service in the area, there was
still a big chunk of parents that would try the service once and vow to never
use it again for how inconvenient it was.

Adding to the service
quality, there were also concerns about security since Shuddle did not subject
their drivers to fingerprints background checks claiming at one point that they
were too expensive for them or that they were not needed.

Their business strategy
also seemed faulty. Reports state that the company lost a lot of money on
several rides and that they incurred losses on every ride they made before
2016. The charged a $9 per month subscription fee plus the ever-changing fare
fees, and yet was said to struggle to pay for its operational costs and
employees’ salaries.

Shuddle was unable to
raise funds to keep themselves afloat, no one was interested in investing or
acquiring them, and they closed down in 2016.

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Kichit – Ha portato chef locali a famiglie private

Kichit – Ha portato chef locali a famiglie private

Kichit

Brought local chefs to private households

General Information
Category
Food and Beverage
Country
United States
Started
In 2011
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2016
Cause of Failure
Competition
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Two
Name of Founders
Brendan Marshall, Ian Ferguson
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
3
Total Funding Amount
$8.1M
Number of Investors
20
Description

Kitchit mission was to make you enjoy the dining experience by letting you book local chefs and bringing them to your doorsteps. Meals were served at the client’s home and yet were more affordable and convenient than going to high-end restaurants. Kitchit offered three signature menus that featured starter, entrée, and dessert and had meals that would appeal to vegetarians as well. Unlike other service providers which delivered ready-made meals or sent ingredients only, Kitchit made sure to take care of the whole dining process from acquiring ingredients, cooking it and cleaning up afterwards.

Cause of Failure

Kitchit was a popular service and people appreciated the fact that the experience the company brought them by allowing them to have tasty food at their own house and still being able to entertain guest instead of being busy in the kitchen. The on-demand food market was already very competitive and they had to compete with other food providers in the same market including Chef’d Up, ChefSurfing, VanChefs and Hire A Cheft. Even well-funded ventures in this sector had tried making a profitable long-term business but failed. Kitchit changed business strategy a couple of times but was not able to make enough profit margin to sustain its operating costs.

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Skully – Caschi da moto in realtà aumentata

Skully – Caschi da moto in realtà aumentata

Skully

Augmented reality motorcycle helmets

General Information
Category
Transportation
Country
United States
Started
In 2013
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2016
Cause of Failure
Mismanagement of Funds
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
One
Name of Founders
Marcus Weller, Mitch Weller
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
4
Total Funding Amount
$15M
Number of Investors
13
Description

Skully is a helmet trademark which targets motorcycle riders. News of the helmet generated considerable buzz as the company promised that their helmed would be the first Augmented Reality (AR) product of its industry offering unique technological features. The helmet comes with a rear facing camera and a heads-up display that can also be used to check contacts names and music streaming. The Skully helmet was to supposedly be the safest in the world since it offered a ‘360° experience’ with its 180° blindspot camera. Riders could also avail of the hands-free voice calling and texting feature during their commutes.

Cause of Failure

According
to Skully spokespeople they had to close shops due to limited fundings. They
were reportedly not able to sum an additional round of funding to complete the
production of the $2000 pre-ordered helmets that about 3000 people were looking
forward to receiving. They filed for bankruptcy in 2016 but their product and
assets were acquired in 2017 by what has been branded SKULLY Technologies, a
new company that says to have no affiliation to the previous company (nor any
obligations it might have to its clients) despite the fact that the two
acquirers are the cousins of the previous Skully CEOs.

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37Coins – Startup che ha sviluppato tecnologie Bitcoin

37Coins – Startup che ha sviluppato tecnologie Bitcoin

37Coins

Startup that developed Bitcoin technologies

General Information
Category
Finances
Country
United States
Started
In 2014
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2015
Cause of Failure
Lack of Funds
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Three
Name of Founders
Johann Barbie, Jonathan Zobro, Songyi Lee
Number of Employees
Between 1 And 10
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
2
Total Funding Amount
$525K
Number of Investors
4
Description

37Coins has been developing new Bitcoin technologies for the hottest new markets for Bitcoins such as the Philippines and Singapore. The company is a Bitcoin wallet provider headquartered in California. 37Coins created several SMS gateway systems (SMSGateways). These servers allowed users from a certain region to receive and send Bitcoins using their so-called SMSWallets.

The Gateway is an android application that operates by connecting the user’s network service provider to the internet.

Cause of Failure

In 2014, 37Coins announced that they were no longer going to support such transactions. The company’s effort to provide Bitcoin transfer technologies across different regions has proved to be nearly impossible for the company. These are the two main reasons for the company’s shutdown:

37Coins stated that delivering monetary funds across different carriers outside of the USA was “Unreliable.”

Furthermore, 37Coins said that their “initial objective was not possible to achieve with the amount of capital raised.” The startup stopped its operations mainly because of lack of sufficient funds. The mere maintenance of the servers that they had developed required a big chunk of capital investment itself, not to mention that the company had several of these server’s set-up all over the globe.

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Trave – Fornitore di libri di testo e materiale didattico per le scuole

Trave – Fornitore di libri di testo e materiale didattico per le scuole

Rafter

Textbook and course material provider for schools

General Information
Category
Education
Country
United States
Started
In 2006
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Acquired
Closed
By 2016
Cause of Failure
Competition
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
One
Name of Founders
Sara Leoni
Number of Employees
Between 51 And 100
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
7
Total Funding Amount
$86M
Number of Investors
7
Description

Rafter was a textbook and course material provider for schools and colleges. The company, previously known as BookRenter, initially focused only on providing textbooks to educational institutions but decided to completely change strategy to gain an upper hand on its competitors. The company rebranded as Rafter and started providing cloud-based course material. Rafter worked with small to medium colleges in particular, which found the bulk deals they were able to get hold of with Rafter advantageous. In this way, colleges were able to lower the prices of campus store books thus encouraging students to buy course material from the university instead of off-campus sites. Rafter also allowed instructors to find, sample and manage course material and provided digital books, audio, and video media as well as codes to access various online courses platforms.

Cause of Failure

Rafter had much competition
from the start and it had to deal with both logistical, financial and market
challenges from the onset. For starters, it was hard to convince large
institutions to buy from the company as a single-source network of providing
texts and notes. Also, not all students were pleased with Rafter’s model as
they thought they could get textbooks for more affordable prices on their own
and they didn’t appreciate the fact that the company required them to return
the books at the end of the term.

However, the most crucial
challenge for the company was the evolution of technology and its widespread
adoption and inclusion into universities. Colleges could now directly deal
online with the publisher so the need to have a middle agent such as Rafter
became minimal. Rafter announced its shut down in 2016. The digital assets of
Rafter, including its Rafter360 solutions, were successively bought by eCampus in 2017.

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Kno – Avvio del software didattico

Kno – Avvio del software didattico

Kno

Education software startup

General Information
Category
Education
Country
United States
Started
In 2009
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Acquired
Closed
By 2013
Cause of Failure
Competition
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Two
Name of Founders
Babur Habib, Osman Rashid
Number of Employees
More Than 10000
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
7
Total Funding Amount
$94.9M
Number of Investors
10
Description

Kno Inc. was a California based educational software startup. The company wanted to change the traditional way students learn. Kno introduced double paneled e-textbooks packed with interactive study lessons and resources, social sharing tools, and adaptive features that were designed to keep students engaged.

Cause of Failure

Kno was one of the first
companies to launch Tablet Computers in 2010. The company introduced 14.1”
touchscreen textbook tablet with single and dual panels on the Linux and Webkit
OS.

Despite having raised close
to $80 million in venture capital the company quickly saw its chances of
scaling up diminish drastically once Apple introduced its now iconic iPads and
iPhones. Their final blow came when Apple entered the educational sector by
providing textbooks as well.

With falling revenues and
fundings running low, Kno tried to pivot to a couple of different solutions
none of which would prove profitable. At last, in 2013, Intel purchased the
startup for a bargain, $15 million, and the entire team of Kno, except its CEO,
joined Intel.

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desti – App guida turistica online

desti – App guida turistica online

Desti

Online travel guide app

General Information
Category
Travel
Country
United States
Started
In 2011
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Acquired
Closed
By 2014
Cause of Failure
Bad Business Model
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Three
Name of Founders
Imri Goldberg, Mosi Shuchman, Nadav Gur
Number of Employees
Between 1 And 10
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
2
Total Funding Amount
$2M
Number of Investors
3
Description

Desti -a spin-out from SRI International- was a traveling and mapping iPad app that used AI to help its user plan their trips and find the best destination based on their preferences. After the user set his preferences the app would essentially work as a search engine finding hotels, restaurants or any other location based on the data and reviews found online regarding said destination. It would then choose and present the one that most closely matched the user’s specifications.

Cause of Failure

Desti wasn’t a faulty app
on its own, nor were its services obsolete. The problem seemed to be that
although users found the application to be useful and appreciated its location
suggestions, they ultimately ended up doing the booking from other more trusted
platforms or known brands. It followed that due to its failure to generate
revenue from its service, investments came short in the Series A round.

There was also the fact
that Desti was a newcomer in a sector which had already several giants such as
TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet competing against themselves and to which users
automatically resorted to.

Desti was ultimately
acquired by Nokia with several members of the Desti team also ending up joining
the Finnish multinational company. Nokia said that it planned to use the
powerful semantic back-end search engine technology provided by Desti to
enhance Nokia’s maps platform, creating thus a revolutionary type of location
services that understands and perhaps anticipates users’ destination
preferences.

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Dinner Lab – Esperimento di social dining basato sull'iscrizione

Dinner Lab – Esperimento di social dining basato sull'iscrizione

Dinner Lab

Membership-based social dining experiment

General Information
Category
Food and Beverage
Country
United States
Started
In 2011
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2016
Cause of Failure
Bad Business Model
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Three
Name of Founders
Brian Bordainick, Francisco Robert, Zach Kupperman
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
2
Total Funding Amount
$9.1M
Number of Investors
5
Description

Dinner Lab had an intriguing approach to the on-demand food market. What Dinner Lab offered was a culinary experience that would take diners away from the traditional dining experience and let them share new dishes with a group of strangers in unusual places. People could sign up for a membership plan and would receive an invitation, ideally 2 to 4 times a month, to take part of a unique experience enriched by exotic food and new people.

Cause of Failure

The first problem
Dinner Lab encountered had to do with the timing at which they offered the
meals. Originally, the event would take place at midnight, but pretty soon the
company team discovered people at 12:00 am of a weekend tended to be drunk and
were both unreliable customers and not really enhancing the experience of the
other participants. So, although the idea sounded adventurous and fun, it was
impractical and people aren’t used to dine at midnight.

According to Dinner Lab
CEO, the company was very challenging to manage as there always was a multitude
of variables they had to keep up with, from the food served and its
ingredients, to the location, diners registration and turnaround and the staff
kept on changing.

Although most customers
enjoyed the experience, people complained that there were never enough tickets
and never enough events going on. In some cities, people who signed up for a
membership which would include at least 2 events per month, ended up having
only 1 event every 6 weeks while still having to pay a full subscription.

Dinner Lab blamed the
difficulty of having more events on the dwindling running capital. They decided
to hire contract workers instead of full-timers with the hope that would
decrease the cost. Dinner Lab also tried to sell diners’ surveys to restaurants
but without success. They finally found the model unsustainable and closed in
2016 after 5 years of operations.

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Theranos – Azienda di tecnologia sanitaria di consumo

Theranos – Azienda di tecnologia sanitaria di consumo

Theranos

Consumer healthcare technology company

General Information
Category
Health
Country
United States
Started
In 2003
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2018
Cause of Failure
Legal Challenges
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
One
Name of Founders
Elizabeth Holmes
Number of Employees
Between 11 And 50
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
10
Total Funding Amount
$1.4B
Number of Investors
16
Description

Founded in 2003 by then 19-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, biotech upstart Theranos claimed to have devised a way to predict the onset of life-threatening diseases using just small amounts of blood samples—their revolutionary technology requiring only about 1/100 to 1/1,000 of the amount of blood that would ordinarily be needed for pre-existing tests. It then recommended preventative medical cures based on those results. Theranos was hailed as a revolutionary startup that raised more than $700 million in venture capital and private investor funding. At its peak around 2014, the company was valued at a whopping $10 billion.

Cause of Failure

Elizabeth Holmes was a real sensation in the media, often featured on the covers of various business magazines and lists of top executives and innovators. On top of this, she was also honored with an interview with former US President Bill Clinton. During these media opportunities, Holmes stated that Theranos’ goal was to give people the power to have critical health information at the time it mattered and that she wanted to create a world in which no one ever had to say the phrase “if only I had known sooner.” 

However, despite this ambitious goal, in October of 2015, when investigative reporter John Carreyrou of The Wall Street Journal questioned the validity of Theranos’ technology, Holmes and her company started slipping into hotter and hotter water. The company soon found itself facing legal and commercial challenges from medical authorities and investors. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state attorney generals, former business partners, and former patients among other parties got involved in uncovering the fraud and by June of 2016, it was estimated that Holmes’s personal net worth had dropped from $4.5 billion to virtually nothing following Holmes’ charging of wire fraud, among a list of other accusations. Soon after this, in September 2018, Theranos ceased operations. 

So what exactly happened here? Why did it take over a decade to expose this company? 

The story begins much earlier in 2002 when Elizabeth Holmes arrived at Stanford University with her breakthrough ideas. Holmes wanted to build a patch that would scan the wearer for infections and through its results, release the necessary antibiotics a patient needed. However, Dr. Phyllis Gardner, Holmes’ professor, tried to explain to her that the antibiotics Holmes wanted to use needed to be given at higher doses than a patch could deliver and that her idea would be difficult to implement. Undeterred, Holmes went on to drop out of Stanford University in 2003 at the age of 19 to start Theranos, then called Real-Time Cures under the disproven premise. As John Carreyrou points out in his thrilling non-fiction masterpiece, Bad Blood, Holmes had an unusual obsession with Steve Jobs that manifested in an obsessive copying of Job’s dressing style and making her employees read his books. Holmes had also infamously claimed that her device would soon be the “iPod of healthcare.” This “Apple complex” that Holmes possessed also led her to spy on her employees and demanded absolute loyalty from them.  

As Holmes’ scaled Theranos up and members of the team inevitably found out about the fabled, fraudulent technology, as the company scaled up operations, various early. “disgruntled employees” were fired, threatened, and sued for trying to expose the reliability of the technology that Holmes claimed as revolutionary. The fraud was exposed when a former employee during the peak years of the company, Tyler Shultz, had attempted to bring concerns about the company’s activities to his management, and when that had failed, he had spoken to Carreyrou and under an alias, reported the company to the New York State Department of Health. Despite ardent efforts by Holmes trying to get Rupert Murdoch to shut down the story that Carreyrou published on her, everything came crumbling downhill for what’s gone down as possibly one of the biggest frauds ever in the healthcare industry. 

Opinion

Looking at the story of Holmes, the recipe for failure can be traced to back in 2002, when she failed to heed the advice of her professor while just a freshman at Stanford. This fostered success complex to chase dreams has destroyed young and seasoned entrepreneurs alke who look to get too successful too quickly. In an interview with CNBC, Patrick Hillman, a senior vice president at crisis-management firm Levick summarizes this effect, saying that startups are prone to big spending mistakes like any person put in the position of sudden wealth. “It’s the Hollywood syndrome,” Hillmann says, “they are stars and rich beyond their wildest dreams, and everyone is saying how brilliant they are. You need to stay grounded!” With the replication of business models becoming easier than ever, entrepreneurs today feel the need for excessive risk taking and constant innovation to protect market share at all costs. 

However, in the case of Theranos, there was another problem than just trying to obsessively recreate Apple’s success in a few years. Michael Sitrick, chairman and CEO of strategic communications firm Sitrick and Co., who has represented companies including ExxonMobil, Disney, and Hewlett-Packard during various crises, brilliantly states that “You can’t have sycophants who tell you that you’re the best-looking CEO in Silicon Valley. You need someone to tell the emperor they have no clothes on.” This is exactly what Theranos failed to do as a company. The thin skinned idealists heading the company could never take no for an answer and created a cult reminiscent of totalitarian regimes that wanted nothing but loyalty from its employees. 

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EventVue – Costruito comunità online per conferenze

EventVue – Costruito comunità online per conferenze

EventVue

Built online communities for conferences

General Information
Category
Finances
Country
United States
Started
In 2007
Business Failure
Business Outcome
Shut Down
Closed
By 2010
Cause of Failure
Bad Market Fit
Founders & Employees
Number of Founders
Two
Name of Founders
Josh Fraser, Rob Johnson
Number of Employees
Between 1 And 10
Funding
Number of Funding Rounds
2
Total Funding Amount
$455K
Number of Investors
9
Description

EventVue was as a social private network whose aim was to assist online communities to have a better conference networking experience. This platform helped attendees connect from different parts even before they met at the conference. The platform sought to make social connections easier for people who frequently traveled to attend conferences around the world but end up not knowing or not interacting with their fellow attendees before and after they got to the event. The startup later pivoted to become an event discovery platform.

Cause of Failure

EventVue shutdown in February 2010, due to the fact that it lacked product-market fit and failed to test early on their assumptions about the usefulness of the product from their target customers view.

EventVue co-founder Josh Fraser wrote in a postmortem that EventVue was a Vitamin instead of a painkiller, the platform was ‘nice to have’ but not necessarily needed by conference organizers. Despite the fact that organizers thought it was a good platform for connectivity and interaction, they weren’t particularly interested in paying for it since it didn’t bring them any additional revenue, cut any of their expenses or make their business any better. Being able to sell more tickets was the primary focus of conference organizers and their product wasn’t addressing that need.

Discovering this, EventVue decided to take a different approach by introducing the EventVue Discover widget which automatically notified people about who else would be attending the conference in hope that this would increase ticket sales for the event. However, this feature backfired at them and sales actually dropped. It seemed that most attendees used the widget to check if friends and acquaintances would attend and when they learned that no one they knew didn’t sign up they refrained from purchasing conference tickets.

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