Biggest Startup Failures and Successes of 2017
Fail often so you can succeed sooner. ~ Tom Kelley, Ideo partner
Experience is the best teacher. Every fail or success is a lesson for CEOs and future entrepreneurs. They teach that you should plan your business very carefully because each step can lead you to fall down in a hole that you can’t get out of.
Sometimes failures show that it doesn’t really matter how great or innovative your product is. It is not and never has been a key to success. What matters is the execution of your idea. Let’s start with the biggest fails of 2017.
Uber - The London Ban
Transport for London decided not to renew Uber’s license to operate in the capital of England. What was the reason? TfL stated that Uber wasn’t “fit and proper” private car-hire operator. It cited four areas of concern including its approach to reporting criminal offenses and carrying out background checks on drivers. Also, the controversy around “Greyball” contributed to the ban. Uber was using this secret program to avoid law enforcement in a number of cities. It would show the fake version of the app to users who have ties with the police union to prevent them from booking a ride.
The company has quite a different explanation for the usage of this program: “It’s been used for many purposes, for example, the testing of new features by employees; marketing promotions; fraud prevention; to protect our partners from physical harm; and to deter riders using the app in violation of our terms of service.”
Because of the ban, over 40 000 drivers will lose their jobs and 3.5M Uber users in London will be left without a proper car hire provider.
Jawbone - the end of wearables leader
From Bluetooth headsets and speakers to so-called wearables. Every product released by Jawbone had its unique look and style. They created a niche for Internet-connected speakers and their smart bands looking like an attractive piece of jewelry. Unfortunately, after years of struggling to stay on the market, because of the stiff competition from FitBit and Apple, the company got into financial problems which led to its liquidation in 2017.
Jawbone is not dead yet - co-founder and CEO Hosain Rahman created a new company called Jawbone Health Hub meaning that the firm is shifting towards medical wearables. On the website Glassdoor, there are quite a few job openings for “Jawbone Health” meaning that the company hasn’t given up - “Jawbone Health is at the forefront of revolutionizing primary care for millions of patients worldwide. (…) It connects patients and physicians like never before with continuous, data-driven dialogue.”
Juicero Press - the infamous Silicon Valley juicer
Would you buy a $699 (release date price) juicer that is not quite a… “juicer”? Meet Juicero Press, a device that delivers cold-pressed juice in just 2 minutes with almost non-existent clean up. It received $120 million in funding before its launch on April 18 last year.
To use the juicer you need to buy Juicero bags which contain the juice with fruit/vegetable pulp (the idea behind it is similar to coffee caps like Nespresso). There is one huge issue with this idea though… To make cold-press Juicero juice you don’t actually need the expensive Juicero Press. Bloomberg Technology found out that there is a much cheaper alternative - you can just squeeze the bags in your hands. The amount of the juice you get is almost the same as from the actual juicer. On September 1st the company announced on their website that they are suspending sales of the device and the packs.
SoundCloud - rescue plan that saved the service from fail
You probably came across SoundCloud in the past. It is a great service for emerging musicians as well as users who enjoy listening to independent artists. Unfortunately, a series of unreasonable choices made by the CEO’s of SoundCloud almost lead to the closure of the most popular music streaming service. You can read our detailed article about it here: From $1B valuation to rescue plan. What have happened to SoundCloud and why?
Moving away from fails of 2017 let’s check out some of the most innovative startups that have emerged this year.
Foward - medical care of the future
How do you imagine the future of medicine? How will doctors’ offices look like? Well, we no longer have to wait for technology out of a sci-fi movie. Meet the startup of former Google and Wavii founder Adrian Aoun - Forward. The goal of the company is to make medicine driven by A.I. and innovative tools.
Forward’s office in San Francisco is equipped with the latest medical instruments and on-site lab for testing within minutes. They have devices such as infrared light to help them find your veins, digital stethoscope that can hear the beat of your heart without the need to take off your shirt. Large screens tell the patients whether a certain medication can be effective with their genetic code. Forward’s lab is trying to make medical diagnostic procedures as harmless and pain-free as possible.
They offer health monitoring using wearable sensors, support and access to their AI and 24/7 access to medical staff through the app for $149 a month. Aoun hopes that the service will focus on prevention rather than sickness. Forward is a great example of a new emerging market - telemedicine, a market that soon will completely change the world.
Check it out here
Essential Phone - phone designed by the creator of Android
Do you remember Andy Rubin? The co-founder and former CEO of Android? The most popular mobile OS on the planet? No? Well, I don’t blame you. He’s been AWOL for the past few years, but in 2017 he came back as the co-founder of Essential, a new smart technology company with a very interesting product - Essential Phone. Surprisingly, the Essential company is a unicorn. Rumours about the device were published in January this year and it went on sale a few months later.
What’s so unique about this phone? First of all, the great, minimalistic design. We’re looking at (almost) bezel-less QHD display with nothing but a selfie-camera on top. The back of the phone houses 2 camera lenses, rear microphone and pin connectors for external devices. Yes, you can attach external gadgets like 360° camera or a dock to the phone. Essential went for a titanium and glass combination that, according to their website, can withstand drops much better than other flagship phones. The pre-installed version of Android hasn’t been modified by the company in any way and on top of that it ships with an unlocked bootloader.
Bezel-less phones are surely the future of the mobile platform and judging by the look of the Essential Phone, upcoming phones will look and feel awesome.
Atrium - making legal service better and faster
The face of Atrium - Justin Kan, co-founder of Atrium is better known for the past services that he has created - TwitchTV and JustinTV. The team behind Atrium consists of experienced entrepreneurs and startup lawyers, both working on one goal - building technology-first law company of the future. They want to build a technology that would let clients get better and faster service from lawyers.
Atrium learned that it is quite uncommon for companies to introduce innovation in software to their services. It is mainly caused because of the difficulties in learning new technology by lawyers and the lack of time to look for new solutions for existing in law companies issues. Atrium wants to change these problems by offering help in automating legal workflow within law firms what will result in better communication, client experience and speed of the service.
What do you think about 2017 as a year for startups? Did we miss anything on our list? Tell us in the comments down below!