This story is inspired in part by Justin Kan's youtube video on the topic.
Internet collective and arthouse MSCHF just released a collection of figurines commemorating dead startups. These companies raised tons of money, garnered a lot of hype, then failed.
Dead startups and the lessons learned:
Description: Stanford undergrad wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes started Theranos to build a new type of blood test. The company went on to raise ~$720M on a ~$10B valuation before famously failing.
Cause of Death: Non-existence and fraud.
Lesson: Start with the product, and don't raise too much money and make the stakes too high before making your product great.
Description: Juicero aimed to be the Kuerig of juice, supplying customers with premade juice packs and a $700 contraption that squeezed the packs into your glass about as well as you could just do with your hands
Cause of Death: The Internet began to make fun of it and people stopped buying.
Lesson: Test your product with a small group of people before raising money and launching nationally.
Startup: One Laptop per Child
Description: They aimed to provide low-cost laptops to the developing world.
Cause of Death: The developing world basically skipped the adoption of laptops, instead opting for low-cost mobile phones.
Lesson: Be vigilant of macro trends that may affect the success of your product.
Description: JIBO was meant to be a home device that would talk to you and perform functions similar to those of an Amazon Alexa with added facial recognition. The company behind it raised money via a well-received crowdfunding campaign.
Cause of Death: In the time it took to announce JIBO and crowdfund, Amazon brought Alexa to market.
Lesson: Get to market fast or risk being outcompeted by a large company before you get your footing.
Startup: Coolest Cooler
Description: Cooler with a speaker and blender that raised millions on Kickstarter.
Cause of Death: Failed to produce Kickstarter pre-orders.
Lesson: Always deliver as promised.