Behind every startup, there is an “innovative” idea that makes or breaks a company. One of the key reasons why startups fail is precisely this insistence on an innovative approach to consumers. Evidently, it is not unusual for a company to revolutionize its target market and make an impact that changes a specific line of industry for good.
Take Uber, for example, a well-known multi-billion dollar company that transformed the taxicab industry worldwide. At this point, many startups are trying to mimic the legendary success of this company and offer different services in the same manner. In certain cases, this business model is almost a logical step and certainly an interesting opportunity for venture capitalists, while in others the same model turns out to be almost a complete failure.
It seems that there are only a few ideas that we can classify as original, but no matter how ingenious they are or not, they are all concentrated on a single aspect – meeting the needs of a certain market segment.
Since this part is deeply subjected to human error, the general startup advice is to look for data that backs up your initiative. Most entrepreneurs, however, chose to ignore this feature, which brings them to our list of the Worst Startup Ideas Ever.
The social media craze gone wrong
There are more than two billion active social network accounts in the year 2015, which makes people’s love for social media ridiculously transparent. Entrepreneurs worldwide have recognized this phenomenon and started looking for a gap in the market to provide something as trendy as Twitter and Instagram are at the moment.
Quite expectedly, this pursuit resulted in some of the silliest startup ideas we’ve seen, although some of them actually caught the attention of serious investors before they drastically failed.
For example, someone thought that it might be a good idea to start a social network for imaginary friends. A website called Looney was launched a few years ago, but it received no attention whatsoever. Someone’s cute idea simply wasn’t well-structured enough, and now you can barely find any evidence of this startup on the internet.
Another example of how not to launch a startup in the world of social media is definitely a website called Blackmailed. This social network is designed in a manner that allows you to blackmail your friends publicly, by revealing secrets and disgraceful pictures, while demanding ransom from them. Basically, you get to blackmail people online. What a humorous idea. This website is also down, and cannot be found on the internet any longer, apart from serving as an example of what a social network should never offer.
We will conclude this section with the most famous flunk of them all. You’ve probably guessed that it is Blippy! This wondrous startup actually raised $13 million at the very beginning, but its concept simply wasn’t popular enough. Neither it was ethical, for that matter.
The original idea of the creators was a social network platform designed to allow users to connect their credit cards to their profiles. In that way, every time a user would make any sort of purchase, the product information, along with the price, would show up on the Blippy profile. This materialistic aspect received a lot of negative response from the public.
Eventually, the website tried to rebrand its message just because of this feature and, although you can still find Blippy online, you probably don’t know anyone who actually uses this platform.
All that Gadgetry
Everyone loves a good device. We are living in the gadget world, where most of us are proud owners of some ingenious appliance that we like to show off in front of our friends and loved ones. Most of us will probably read an article about the latest invention in the next 24 hours and some of us will even envy the inventor who designed it.
Hardly anyone would mind being proclaimed as the next Elon Musk, but that kind of status is something that our following entrepreneurs will probably never get to enjoy.
The CueCat is one of the world’s worst inventions ever, and for a good reason. This cat-shaped device of a surprisingly large size was intended to read unique codes from magazine ads and lead the consumer to the advertiser’s website. The company behind this product invested a lot of money in marketing, hoping to push this strangely designed item to the market. For some time, you could actually find codes for the CueCat in some of the esteemed publications like BusineesWeek and Wired. If you are interested, you can still find this device on Amazon or eBay.
Unvarnished, the worst startup idea of the year 2010 suggested a model of personal branding in a somewhat different form, by completely excluding the personal part from it. The general idea behind this application was simple. One can connect to the Unvarnished through a social media profile, and find local businesses and other users. Then he can comment or criticize their business with no limitation, making every statement transparent to all users. The very thought of someone diminishing your work and career, by simply taking the time to write something mean about you, wasn’t received with a lot of positive feedback.
As far as transportation goes, you’ve probably heard about Shweeb before. This startup from New Zealand maybe isn’t the worst ever, but it is certainly as extreme as the aforementioned.
The vision of the people behind the Monorail Shweeb Technology was based on a somewhat futuristic concept of a single, long rail, stretching through the air, with a human-sized pod attached to it. Inside of this pod you could find a cycling machine similar to your regular bicycle and ride this strange vehicle to the other side of the river or even a city, depending on how far as the rail goes.
Sounds unimaginable? Well, not for the good people of the Google actually, since this company invested $1 million in Shweeb, showing their trust in the human powered monorail transportation system. Unfortunately, the Shweeb Company fell off the bike fast.
If you want to stay out of our list of the worst startup ideas ever, don’t forget to analyze your market before you decide to enter it. Support your invention with an appropriate research, and investors will absolutely love your idea. Don’t forget to listen to your consumers and you’ll be one step closer to becoming the world’s next best startup.