Good ideas don’t always automatically translate into commercial successes. When internet startups go offline it can be hard to discover the causes of failure. Melancholy messages of “this domain is for sale” or simply “404” are often all that remain.
While we usually focus our attentions on the positive side of the startup scene, it’s a sad fact that some businesses don’t make it. We’ve put together a list of some of the German startups that waved goodbye and went offline in the first half of 2012…
Verkaufsuns (January 2011, relaunched in June 2012)
The list begins with a startup that received a second chance after relaunching in June. For one hopeful year, the re-commerce startup managed to stay afloat in the market before being forced to take a break. The platform and domain were then sold on Ebay for €8000 at the beginning of June.
The good news is that Verkaufsuns will be going back online, complete with a new business model. The business originally began in January 2011 and has always stood in competition with ReBuy and Flip4New.
SevenSnap (September 2009, on a break since February 2012)
“Be back soon”. These are the promising words on discount website SevenSnap, a site which still displays offers every now and again. The business is not active on the web any more, with founder Tobias Hieb talking to Deutsche Startups about a timeout in April this year after SevenSnap had been inactive for some time.
The social media channels of the project have also lain dormant for some time. SevenSnap differentiates itself from other discount portals in one significant way: users must pay by the minute for their time in the online discount realm.
Picopay (August 2010 – June 2012)
In Summer 2010 Ulf Bögeholz and Andreas Stehling became determined to create an innovation that could be used to pay for cheap digital content. Financiers such as Thomas Promny were potential investors, but the founders said they didn’t quite manage to pull the big clients onto their proposal and get support in pitching the idea at publishers. Bögeholz is now the CTO at Taxi.de while Stehling is keeping his new projects under wraps.
Bamarang (January 2012 – June 2012)
The fight of designer shopping clubs in Germany has advanced into a powerful battle and it seems that Bamarang is the first victim. As Gruenderszene exclusively reported, the Samwer’s shopping club Bamarang (which was started under huge controversy) has been discontinued to provide an advantage for the in-house competitor Westwing.
Styles Club (June 2011-June 2012)
Exactly one year after it was founded, e-commerce startup Styles Club was already history. Since June 2012 the site has been offline. Through the use of a Facebook app and Open Graph, Styles Club wanted to circulate a social-commerce style-buying recommendation site amongst its customers. “We did not, however, manage to draw enough clients to our platform,” says founder Malte Schulze. At last count, Styles Club employed ten staff members and received support from incubator Springstar.
Youmusic24 (September 2009-June 2012)
“Due to technical problems, we are currently unavailable. We are working on a solution”. This is the statement that users of the site Youmusic24 are currently being greeted with. The reason behind the discontinuation of business operations was made public in June 2012: the current partner, Media Ventures, had stepped down from the Munich company. Media Ventures joined Youmusic24 a year before and brought their shareholding company mp3.de with them. Mp3.de will continue as its own brand despite the shutdown of Youmusic24.
Froodies (March 2009-May 2012)
New online supermarkets All You Need and My Time had only just been set up when competitor Froodies was forced to throw in the towel. On the 16 May, the local court of Düsseldorf began insolvency proceedings against the startup, which is run by Ingo Bohg and founder Lutz Preussners.
Since then, the business has remained inactive and the website taken offline, despite the optimistic statement on the homepage that they are “rebuilding for you!”. Apparently, the planned second round of financing couldn’t be received due to “additional conditions” demanded by the investors.
Aka-aki (April 2008-May 2012)
The founding team from Aka-aki retired the App on the first of July after four years online. The Berlin founding team, composed of Gabriel Yoran, Roman Hänsler, Stefanie Hoffmann, Bastian Pfister, Florian Hadler, Lukas Hartmann, Felix Kanz and Anja Kielmann has aimed to help people turn strangers into friends since 2008 but failed after facing fierce criticism from users. The idea from the UDK students is a good one but it failed in a market that just isn’t ready for it yet.
MyOn-ID (2007-April 2012)
In April this year, MyOn-ID Media GmbH discontinued the product that once lent it its name: monitoring tool MyON-ID. In 2007, Mario Grobholz and his colleagues began the service, which could be used to monitor personal brands. But the users had something else in mind, they were far more interested in tools that monitored the internet in general. Now the Munich local is concentrating his energy on the 2011 startup Secure.me – a kind of anti-virus protection device for Facebook profiles.
United Commerce (March 2010-February 2012)
In February this year United Commerce went offline for good. The startup behind online shops Chefgourmet.de, 12vinos and Geschenkpaket.de filed for insolvency in the Hamburg local court at the end of January. The shops had difficulties dealing with unhappy customers who were frustrated with the shortness of supplies on the sites after products that they paid for simply did not arrive.
Wein der Woche (April 2011-February 2012)
It isn’t a good sign when a startup’s homepage only shows an “Oops” when accessed and the social media channels have remained stagnant for months. The startup Wein der Woche, founded by Alexis Hue, was dissolved in the middle of February with little fuss. Meanwhile, Project A Ventures, the new incubator from Christian Weiss & co., which is supported by Otto capital, has taken Wine in Black, a similar online wine distributer, under its wing. It seems the business idea maintains its charm for investors.
Stockdoo (April 2011-February 2012)
Shares forum Stockdoo never quite managed to launch. For a long time, “coming soon” was the catchphrase on the homepage of Stockdoo, but this goal was never realized as the site was dissolved before it could even begin. Stockdoo was envisaged as a portal which would support exchanges between traders and investors. Zürcher Innovo Finance Group already invested €400,000 in Stockdoo, though the dissolution of the site meant they never invested the millions they had planned to.
The Chicken (November 2010-January 2012)
Product platform TheChicken was established from Shopotainment and connected products with the product experience. The term Chicken is a pun on the word Checkin and the site was supposed to be a geo service, allowing people to check in products. In the long term, the team behind The Chicken also wanted to begin market research. That won’t happen now, with the site offline since January 2012.
Megaupload (2005 – January 2012)
Megupload has been a site of major controversy, not least because of Finnish/German founder Kim Schmitz (aka Kim Dotcom). Since January 2012 Megaupload has been suspended, with Schmitz and three of his colleagues arrested under instruction from US authorities. By using his business model, which offers users content and still rewards artists, he “obviously forgot to include the entertainment industry in the reward chain”.
Miosato (December 2010-January 2012)
Miosato had only just reached its first birthday when it went offline. The online shop, which hosted luxury items from up-and-coming designers, was launched at the end of 2010. But even with the support of giant funder Holtzbrinck Ventures the concept didn’t catch on. At last count around 20 staff were at Miosato. The domain Miosato.com is now being run by Munich-based online shop Stylebop.
Mylugo (November 2009-December 2011)
Since the end of 2011, online shop Mylugo has reported insolvency. The company never managed to pick up from a shaky start, with rumours circulating that Mylugo reported an annual deficit of over 900,000 euros in its first year. Founded by Matthias Schmitz, Holger Meyer, Torsten Bade und Johanna Elliot, the business had a main focus on security and developed, amongst other things, a system of trust. These extra technical features were cumbersome and caused the Mylugo founders to forget one important point: giving the customer an enjoyable shopping experience.
Translated by Michelle Keupper