Avoiding the Startup Deadpool

One of the biggest recommendations I can give to any entrepreneur is very simple: learn from other peoples mistakes.

In the world of forward thinking minds, one of the best places to learn is the Startup Deadpool (the place where some once great ideas now lay dead and are barely remembered.)

Some near entrants to the Deadpool:

VEOH, once a proud competitor in the online video race… declared bankruptcy last Thursday. While not in the deadpool yet, Chapter 7 is at least a good foot in the grave. I hope that survives (but Chapter 7 is a pretty large obstacle.)

In terms of ideas, VEOH focused on offering full-length video services that competitors avoided. They also have some amazing little gadgets that are good for usability… but even $70m in funding didn’t work out.

Tweepml – Seattle 2.0 Founder Marcelo Calbucci created TweepML as a solution to Twitter’s lack of lists… and that feature was eventually added to the base Twitter experience (thus killing future Tweepml adoption.)

A key lesson here is that you really need to consider basing your venture on another company that you have no control over. Twitter (Facebook, Google, Microsoft) have the ability to control APIs and information with little or no regard to the entrepreneur. The same concept can be taken to nearly any other startup model that relies on a niche of a larger company (for instance, what if you made paper placemats for McDonald’s and they decided they would simply make their own placemats?)

The site was up for sale on Tweepml blog using online auction site Flippa.


Entellium – was a startup in Seattle, providing a sales based CMS that was aiming to compete with services such as Salesforce. Unfortunately the executives of the company decided to falsify financial records and present one set internally…. and the others to investors. Entellium’s assets were eventually bought by Intuit (where the domain quietly rests on a 404 not found page.) You can read about Entellium on Wikipedia or visit the Google search.

Eventvue – was actually my favorite event based startup. It had some greet features but simply didn’t penetrate the marketplace fast enough to generate positive cash flow. You can read more on Eventvue via Techcrunch.

One of the best parts of Eventvue for other startups is reading the CEO’s final note:

Our Deadly Strategic Mistakes:

– tried to build a sales effort too early, with too weak of a product after initial financing

– waited too long to address the “nice to have” problem

– went after enterprise sales model with a non-recurring, small price

– didn’t make eventvue self-serve to let anyone come and get it

Our Deadly Cultural Mistakes:

– didn’t focus on learning & failing fast until it was too late

– didn’t care/focus enough about discovering how to market eventvue

– made compromises in early hiring decisions – choose expediency over talent/competency

SearchME – was an interesting company in the search engine space. Trying to compete with dozens of other startups against the top dogs (Google, Yahoo, BING, Facebook) would cause problems for any startup. The lesson they teach however, is that even moving into the deadpool, they have a variety of intellectual properties and patents for sale (and in this day and age, those may make more money than the startup ever did.)

Do you know of any other good examples of the Startup Deadpool that we can learn from? Please share them in the comments/twitter stream using #startupdeadpool