Why do startups fail? A postmortem of 256 failed startups.

Product Market Fit

Finding a potential market for a new, exciting product is still a big puzzle for all startups.

No wonder, 42% startups have to wind down failing to create demand for their product. Across all the years (from 2014 to 2018), the product-market has pushed startups to shut their stores time and again.

Let’s understand what specific product problems they have faced-

Understanding the true need:

IntroNet set out to power digital introductions through its Connector product on the web and in Gmail. But they failed having a good lesson on Product Market fit-

No more relevance:

Startups who have suffered from the product market fit has also faced the challenge of not being able to keep pace with the current trend.

Meet Raptr, a PC gaming service designed to optimize PC gaming performance while maintaining high quality and system efficiency.

Expecting too much from a customer:

This is an interesting study. Some of the startups who failed think their product was ahead of the curve too much. They had to shut down as their target audience was not ready to adapt to new technologies.

Imzy was one such startup who offered a platform for healthy communities where its members are free from harassment and abuse. Was it too much ahead of the trend? Below is their realisation-

Mobeam also faced similar challenges. Mobeam provided universal access at point of sale (POS), enabling the transmission of coupons, gift cards, tickets and other barcode data at retailers.

They realised-

In quest of Sustainable Business Model:

Some products also failed as they could not find out a viable business model to continue their business.

Meet GoZoomo, a Bangalore based technology used car marketplace pioneering in peer-to-peer transactions of pre-owned cars and providing a hassle free experience.

They closed with an honest statement-

Canvas Network also tasted the bitter startup failure. They were offering users to share and play with images, explore new content created by other users, vote on favorites, and make image remixes with the in-browser editor.

Their realisation has been eye-opener-

Coinprism was another victim, who started to offer world’s first colored coins web-wallet. In their statement, they unveiled why it’s so tough for a new startup to flourish-

Customers are the king:

In the middle of so many product-market fit puzzles, there is one big revelation we acquire from our study.

Understanding the audience is a massive breakthrough to find out the Product Market fit.

VoterTide encountered the same challenge. They developed a social media monitoring and analysis app focused on politics. Identifying their failure, they said-

Is there a demand for your product?

For a new technology, customers’ don’t know what they are going to play with. They even don’t know will this product help them or not. This leads to an inertia to use the product. Creating the demand for the product is the key here, we understand from the study.

Kitchensurfing faced the challenge. They took initiative to make it easy to bring meals from idea to the table. A promising idea failed to create enough demand in the market.

How to find the “Product Market Fit”?

Now the question is what can help you to come up with viable “Product-Market Fit”.

What we are understanding from our study is that there is no alternative of “Knowing your audience.”

Delivery startup PepperTap underlines the need of extensive research to achieve the ‘Product Market Fit”. The India-based mobile centric hyperlocal grocery delivery service, PepperTap promised to provide quick on demand grocery products to the doorstep.

But they failed as they encounter new challenges frequently. Let’s hear from them-

The age-old chicken and egg problem:

Every marketplace startup have to go through this piece of puzzle earlier and our study once again highlights that the problem is still palpable for marketplace-startups.

And here are some of them-

WHY own it: WHY own it enables users to borrow products from friends and neighbors.

App.net was another victim. It was developed to allow users to access a network of social apps. App.net provided infrastructure to build social applications. And if failed resolving the “Chicken and Egg Problem”.

Selltag an online trading platform with a website and mobile apps also faced the same issue.

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