Insolvent, bankrupt, offline – Germany’s startup casualties of 2013 so far


Along with the good news of multi-million dollar funding rounds and headline-grabbing exits, companies going offline and insolvent are unavoidable parts of entrepreneurship. Despite that fact, the German startup scene tends to have a very negative view of failure – rather than accepting that not everything always works out, people who fail tend to be reproached.


In comparison, the US appears like a shining example of giving people a second chance, a perspective the German mentality needs to adopt. Failure isn’t just a fact of life in startups, it also provides an essential learning curve – almost every big-name entrepreneur has had some kind of failure in their past.

We’ve brought together a list of the German startups that went offline or insolvent in 2013 so far. Hopefully, theese founders can look up to the likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs and bounce back from their failure with fresh ideas…

The casualties of 2013 so far

width="174"SchülerVZ dead (for good)

The German company that went offline with the most publicity this year is StudiVZ’s SchülerVZ – on 30 April, the portal was permanently dropped. At last count, the network only had 200,000 members. But parallel to announcing the failure, the business launched a new startup – BilderVZ.

WindoWin insolvent, Wynsh offline

WindoWin, the company behind Wynsh, had to declare itself bankrupt in February this year after the sale of the business to an investor fell through. Wynsh’s goal was to provide discounts on retail products.

Yield optimiser RevenueMax insolvent

Launched in 2010 and bankrupt in 2013. Yield optimiser RevenueMax was on a downward spiral and is now beginning insolvency proceedings. RevenueMax was founded in Hamburg and aimed to maximise advertising revenue for websites.

Over for online marketing company The Reach Group

In June this year, Hamburg-based online marketing provider The Reach Group was forced to file for insolvency after it failed to sell. Just a few months earlier, founder and CEO Christoph Burseg left the business. close to being acquired, then insolvent

Until recently, the founders of were still trying to sell their business to an international security provider – but the negotiations didn’t go anywhere. filed for bankruptcy in March this year “in order to avoid liquidation problems coming up.”

DuMont Digital Redaktion shut down

The editorial staff from the online version of Frankfurt Rundschau were meant to keep their jobs and move to Berlin after it was taken over by F.A.Z. But it wasn’t meant to be – in April this year, their services were no longer needed and the step to bankruptcy was “unavoidable.”

FoundersLink’s Givanto bankrupt

Less than ten months after staff benefit platform Givanto was launched by FoundersLink and it had to file for bankruptcy in March this year. The startup’s goal was to offer business colleagues price advantages at select merchants.

Betahaus Köln and Hamburg closed

Coworking space Betahaus faced two failures – after the Cologne branch shutdown, its Hamburg version filed for bankruptcy in June. Betahaus Berlin, in comparison, continues to thrive, staff member Maximilian von der Ahé told us.


Over for Hanse Ventures’ Gigalocal and Finest Spot

Incubator Hanse Ventures also faced a double whammy when it was forced to announce the insolvency of two of its products – Gigalocal and Finest Spots. The numbers of the two smartphone apps weren’t up to scratch for the Hamburg-based incubator. Hanse Ventures managed to sell online marketplace Gigalo.

Picture marketplace Pictorama goes offline

In February this year, the founders of Pictorama openly explained the problems facing their company: “Unfortunately not as many clients as we expected bought our pictures. This forced us to shut down Pictorama due to insufficient funds.”

Team Europe gives ChicChickClub the boot

Difficult name and an even more difficult market. After online shoe shop ChicChickClub faced a number of problems from launch, it announced bankruptcy in March this year. Competitor JustFab took over the customers of the Berlin-based startup.

Interim failures

Setbacks are faced by every startup, though some are more serious than others. In these two cases, although the startups were not shutdown completely, they still didn’t get the happy ending they were after.

Livango – offline, then sold

Launched by Internetstores GmbH, Livango went offline for weeks before it was sold in January this year to Möbel Trend GmbH. Internetstores announced last October that it wanted to ditch many of its stores in order to refocus its direction.

Myparfum bought-back from founder

After being declared bankrupt, the founders of MyParfum bought back the startup at the end of June this year. They plan on building up the startup as a family business.

Other companies that went offline

A number of startups had more quiet failures that are still worth noting – including Cardagram, BuddyBeers, Clevertake, Fashionlend, Handelsdeal, Kuponio, LikeyBy, Wooby and Zitra.

Translated by Michelle Kuepper

Image credits: Flickr user amboo who?

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