What Went Wrong: 101 Failed Startups Tell All


Worried about your startup? You are not alone.

That’s the subtext to a new study from CB Insights, which goes into the 20 reasons startups are likely to fail. The study has everything, from weak founding teams to failed pivots to overbearing investors.

This is not exactly the first study about startup failure, of course, but it’s a bit different from many others. First, it’s compiled from 101 startup failure post-mortems, rather than from a survey asking CEOs what went wrong. That gives it a level of detail you don’t often see. Second, it’s focused on venture-backed, fast-growth (well, they intended to be fast-growth) companies, which is a unique universe. Last, it contains many extended quotes and anecdotes from founders, who, at least in the samplings made available through CB Insights, seem to be remarkably candid.

What went wrong? In most cases, quite a few things, which is why the numbers in the study add up to more than 100. But here are the five most common problems.
No market need: 42 percent

That’s right. Almost half of startups that fail do so because in the end, not enough people want the thing or service they were producing.

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