Top 10 Startup Failures of 2019

Adam Hassan
The Startup
Published in
4 min readDec 23, 2019


Why 553 startups failed in 2019, with total funding of $1.9B.

startup funding

The startup community isn’t all about success stories, fancy offices and a room full of PlayStation 4 with 4k TV’s, and ping pong tables. Not that all of them reach a happy ending with an Initial public offering where the founders celebrate it with their kids and family.

Almost 90% of all tech-centric startups fail, according to Harvard business school.

Arguably not every failed startup is a failure, some of them innovated in some area(s) that other businesses and people learned and benefited from. Some other startups were able to bring back some of the funded money to investors.

But to keep things exciting and straightforward, here are the top 10 startup failures that occurred in 2019.

10. Laurel & Wolf

Laurel & Wolf is the leading online interior design marketplace. We make professional interior design affordable & accessible for everyone.

Total Funding Amount: $35.8M

Short Reason: Operational and management challenges.

Long Reason: They built a business in a category that’s entirely new for consumers (online interior design). And they faced issues with employees and operational costs.

9. Call9

Call9 Delivers On-Demand Doctors In Emergency Situations with Technology.

Total Funding Amount: $34M

Short Reason: The company was far ahead of itself, not welcomed in the market.

Long Reason: According to some people with involvement in the company’s financing, a troubled relationship with one of its essential investors lead Call9 to its end.

8. Aria Insights

Aria Insights develops unmanned air vehicles for search and rescue missions and bridge inspections.

Total Funding Amount: $39M

Short Reason: The company was far ahead of itself.

Long Reason: They offered a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist yet. Because of that, it was hard to operate on such a large scale.

7. Layer, Inc.

Layer is a very high quality, scalable and open cloud service for communications that utilizes carrier grade VoIP systems.

Total Funding Amount: $44M

Short Reason: Pressure from investors to capture a broader market.

Long Reason: Fast growth with pressure from investors, where they had to compete with giant companies in the market like Intercom. Issues with reliability and they just couldn’t make it.

6. Arivale Inc.

They provide individuals a scientific path to optimize wellness and avoid disease for a life filled with joyful moments.

Total Funding Amount: $52.6M

Short Reason: There is no market for their product.

Long Reason: The cost of providing the service exceeds what their customers could pay for. High price for collecting genetic and blood. It would take time to start delivering the program to consumers cost-effectively, which puts them in the wrong time in the market. Because of that they were unable to continue operating at a loss.

5. Stimwave Technologies

Stimwave Technologies, a medical device company, develops and markets wireless microsize injectable medical devices for neurology markets.

Total Funding Amount: $54.7M

Short Reason: Their product wasn’t welcomed in the market.

Long Reason: There is a court case where a patent claimed being treated by high-frequency therapy, which makes it rational to assume that their product wasn’t good enough to be used.

4. Kahuna Inc.

Kahuna creates highly personalized experiences for every buyer and every seller for the world’s leading marketplaces. Kahuna is the platform of choice for meeting the needs of marketplaces, using state of the art machine-learning technology to drive extreme personalization, product and pricing optimization, trust, and engagement.

Total Funding Amount: $58M

Short Reason: Nobody seems to know.

Long Reason: According to Wikipedia, the company closed down all operations in early 2019, and they made their website inaccessible as of May 2019 with no more information being stated.

3. Oryx Vision

Oryx is building a set of eyes for autonomous vehicles- a revolutionary depth-sensor system. Coupled with standard cameras, our sensors provide all the performance requirements of autonomous cars, at a mass market price.

Total Funding Amount: $67M

Short Reason: They needed more investment.

Long Reason: They tried to continue operating but were not successful. The path wasn’t straightforward for them to continue working and return investments.

2. DriverUp Corp.

DriverUp is an online marketplace that offers automotive financing services. The platform utilizes proprietary technology to create a direct-to-investor option for its users. Integrated with software and advanced data analytics, the marketplace enables efficient processing and direct investment in auto loans, with full transparency and reporting.

Total Funding Amount: $70M

Short Reason: I don’t know.

Long Reason: They cleaned themselves up from Google after bankruptcy.

1. Anki, Inc.

Anki was founded in 2010 by three Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates. The team focuses on creating unique consumer products that people would not expect to be possible, powered by cutting-edge technology that was once confined to robotics labs and research institutes.

Total Funding Amount: $182M

Short Reason: They ran out money

Long Reason: According to its long-term roadmap, it could no longer continue being a hardware & software business. It sold 1.5 Million robot units, but that wasn’t enough to stay alive for another year.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


For a more optimistic view of 2020, I hope to see more businesses make it to a profitable, sustainable phase where they can bring better products and services. But to prevent failure is to avoid success, and what really matters is the ability to be flexible enough to learn and accelerate from the apparent mistakes.