The Startup Graveyard shows budding entrepreneurs how it can easily go awry.
The term “startup” is often seen as synonymous with disruptive business culture, big investment and, ultimately, runaway success. There’s good reason for this: you simply don’t hear as much about companies that don’t succeed.
Looking to put that right is an online crypt where you can go and pay your respects to the businesses that didn’t quite make it.
Startup Graveyard is a website set up to memorialise our fallen business brethren. Each deceased startup gets a coffin with its erstwhile logo – a sad contrast to the promotional tee shirts and pens of the halcyon fundraising days, but there we are. Clicking each coffin lets you literally lift the lid on what went wrong, sourced from each founder’s own words, interviews and posts.
To pour a little salt into the wound, the site lists a bunch of each dead startup’s surviving competitors, as well as how much each one raised when it was in that prized position of being the “next big thing”.
The literally funereal tone may sound a little poor taste, or as if the site is taking pleasure from failure, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the site feels nicely respectful and that seems to be the intent.
As the creators note at the top of the page: “We hope that this project can help de-stigmatise failure, increase transparency, create a community and improve the information on the site. It’s a lot to ask, but it starts here.”
It’s nicely presented, and easily accessible, but while the creators clearly intend for it to guide budding entrepreneurs on their journey, it would be naive to think this could help avert every possible pitfall. As the creators (or undertakers, as they call themselves) note: “Companies are very complex and their journey here is usually the result of interrelated long term factors.”
All the same, you can pay your respects here, browse through sectors ranging from advertising and hospitality to ecommerce and software, and learn about how the dearly departed took a turn for the worst.