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Black Connect
by on December 31, 2019

Launching a successful company requires more than just hard work. More than having a great product or service.  More than building the right team.  More than having adequate funding.  All of these variables are important, but having all of these pieces in place still doesn’t guarantee success.  In the world of entrepreneurship, success depends on the timing of a million different things coming into alignment. 

Start-ups shut down for many reasons.  There are plenty of stories of hardworking founders with viable products that went under simply because they could no longer tread water.  We salute these courageous entrepreneurs, and since many entrepreneurs are born and not made, we’re sure we’ll be hearing about many of these founders again soon!

Here’s a partial list of start-ups that will not be ringing in the new year:

MoviePass (2011 – 2019)
Total raised: $68.7 million, acquired by Helios and Matheson in 2017

MoviePass issued an announcement letting customers know that their movie ticket subscription service would stop working as of September 14, 2019.  After several price increases, business model changes, temporary shutdowns and raising 63 million dollars is less than a year, the company has called it quits. - at least for now.

(Sinemia, another movie ticket subscription service and social platform for moviegoers, also announced that it was ending U.S operations.  Sinemia, raised $1.9 million).

HomeShare (2016-2019)
Total raised: $5.7 million

HomeShare offered a solution to ever-increasing housing costs. The company, known for matching roommates who share luxury apartments split up into “micro-rooms.” The company said that as of March, it had about 1,000 active residents at the time it shut down. It had operated in the Bay Area, New York, Seattle and Los Angeles.

Munchery (2010 – 2019)
Total raised: $125 million

Munchery offered same-day food deliver services Earlier this year Munchery surprised customers with an email announcing it would cease operations, effective immediately.

The news of its closure was not a surprise to many due to Munchery laying off 257 employees, or 30 percent of its workforce, in May after shutting down its Seattle, Los Angeles and New York operations.

Several other food delivery startups have left the market. Doughbies, an on-demand cookie delivery business, closed its doors in 2018. Sprig, Maple and Josephine are amongst the others who succumbed to the pressure of a crowded market.

Munchery had raised a total of $125 million in venture capital funding, reaching a valuation of $300 million at its peak. It was supported by notable Silicon Valley investors, including Greycroft, Menlo Ventures and Sherpa Capital.


Unicorn Scooters (2018 – 2019)
Total raised: $150,000

Electric scooter company Unicorn went belly up from spending big money on Facebook ads. Customers received an email from founder Nick Evans informing them of the shut down:  "It saddens me to write this letter but we have run out of funding and are shutting down operations immediately," the email says.

"We unfortunately do not have the resources to deliver your Unicorns nor are we able to provide refunds, as we are completely out of funding.”

"A large proportion of the revenue went toward paying for Facebook ads to bring traffic to the site," the email says.  "Unfortunately the cost of the ads were just too expensive to build a sustainable business,”   Unicorn’s CEO Nick Evans wrote, according to The Verge.  “And as the weather continued to get colder throughout the US and more scooters from other companies came on to the market, it became harder and harder to sell Unicorns, leading to a higher cost for ads and fewer customers.”

The company quickly shut down with no money left over to issue refunds for more than 300 of its $699 scooters that had been ordered.

Vreal (2015 – 2019)
Total raised: $15 million

Vreal started with an ambitious idea - VR is immersive, and VR content should be immersive too.  “Unfortunately, the VR market never developed as quickly as we all had hoped, and we were definitely ahead of our time,” the company said in a statement on its website. The company announced that it was shutting down operations and that team members “are moving on to other opportunities.”

ODG (1999 – 2019)
Total raised: $58 million

ODG is considered a pioneer in the Augmented Reality (AR) glasses space.   A couple of years ago, the company raised $58 million. A year later, it had burned through its funding and couldn’t pay employees. By early 2018, ODG had lost half of its workforce as it sought loans to pay back employees. By early 2019, the company announced it was closing after acquisitions from several large tech companies, including Facebook, fell through.  

Omni (2014 – 2019)
Total raised: $35.3 million

Omni began as a physical storage company. First, the company would pick up your possessions from your house, store them in a warehouse and bring them back whenever your needed them for a nominal monthly fee.  Then, the company shifted its business model and moved towards letting customers rent out the items they were storing so customers could earn money from their property. It then sold the storage business to Clutter and moved on to helping retail stores run rental programs. But that proved to be too difficult and expensive to scale As part of the shutdown, roughly 10 Omni engineers were hired by Coinbase.

Grand opening.  Grand closing.