Top 5 Reasons Why 90% Startups Fails

Christine Milanzo|12 Sept 2023|Startups
startup fail with reference and case study

The Anatomy of Startup Failures: Common Causes and Lessons Learned

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, where product innovation and ambition collide, startups emerge as beacons of hope and creativity. However, the stark reality is that most startups do not survive beyond their initial stages. According to research by CB Insights, approximately 90% of startups fail.

This situation raises a critical question: What causes startups to fail, and what can we learn from their mistakes?

The Landscape of Startup Failures

It’s essential to delve into the data to understand the dynamics of startup failures. CB Insights conducted an extensive study, analyzing thousands of startup post-mortems and interviews with founders.

Their findings shed light on the primary reasons behind startup failures:

Reasons Why Startups Fails

1. Lack of Market Need
Surprisingly, the number one reason for startup failure, accounting for a staggering 42% of cases, is the lack of market demand for the product or service. Entrepreneurs often fall in love with their ideas, assuming the world shares their enthusiasm. However, building a solution without a clear market need can lead to costly mistakes.

Lesson Learned: Start by identifying a genuine problem that your target audience faces. Conduct thorough market research and validate your Idea before investing significant resources. We help startups validate the Idea and shape it into a Market-Fit Product. Learn more about our Product Discovery Services.

2. Running Out of Cash
Finances are the lifeblood of any business. Running out of cash is the second most common reason for startup failure, affecting 29% of startups. Even with a promising product or service, mismanagement of funds can be fatal.

Lesson Learned:

  1. Create a detailed financial plan and carefully manage your budget.
  2. Explore funding options such as angel investors, venture capital, or crowdfunding to secure your startup's financial health.
  3. Learn more about IT Consulting services, wherein we help startups in Fundraising consulting, preparing them to pitch their Idea and helping them reach out better to potential investors.

3. Wrong Team
A startup’s success often hinges on the capabilities and cohesion of its team. In 23% of cases, the wrong team was identified as a critical contributor to failure. Team dynamics, skills, and commitment are vital. Having an aligned and motivated team is a must to go through a startup’s initial phase. A well-oiled and focused team is a must to build investor confidence and build a robust product.

Lesson Learned: Build a diverse, skilled, and complementary team. Ensure that team members share the same vision and are committed to the startup’s success. We offer multiple team building services along with CTO as a Service and innovative team augmentation plan (Equity sharing, too). Contact us for more information on how we can help build and represent a strong team to your early investors.

4. Being Outcompeted
Competition is fierce in the startup ecosystem. Around 19% of startups fail because they are outperformed by rivals who offer a better product, service, or strategy. The ability to create USPs over your competition and having a better game plan can change your position in the competitive landscape.

Lesson Learned: Continuously monitoring your competition things that work for them does not necessarily mean it will work for you. Stay agile and adapt to market changes. Focus on delivering unique value to your customers to stay ahead. Always remember competition can break you, but if you and your team are agile, focused, and adaptive, you can gain your market share. Connect with us for product design and development services . And learn how to stay agile, monitor competitors, and deliver unique value to thrive in this highly competitive landscape.

5. Poor Product Fit
In 17% of cases, startups struggle to achieve product-market fit. This means that their product or service does not resonate with the target audience, leading to lackluster sales and growth. Building something is not as important as building the right thing. You and your team have to focus on customer experience, expectations, and their takeaway. Unless your product is a puller, your Idea will not have skyrocketing success.

Lesson Learned: Iteration is key. Continuously gather feedback, make improvements, and pivot when necessary to align your offering with market needs. We offer Product Innovation services wherein we help founders Discover, Plan, Design, and Validate their Ideas before going into development turf. This helps the founders to save time, money, and energy to identify potential risks and help them make it a Market-fit product.

Blockbuster Vs. Netflix | Product Innovation Services

A Real Case Study: Blockbuster vs. Netflix

You must be aware of it by now one of the most iconic examples of startup success versus failure is the rivalry between Blockbuster and Netflix. Here, we try to pick up little details on what worked for Netflix and how Blockbuster was not able to foresee the changing landscape.

At its peak, Blockbuster was the undisputed king of video rentals. With thousands of physical stores worldwide, it seemed invincible. However, Blockbuster's failure to adapt to changing consumer preferences and technology sealed its fate. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, unable to compete with the convenience and cost-effectiveness of digital streaming.

Lesson Learned from Blockbuster's Failure:

  1. Adapt or Die: Blockbuster's reluctance to embrace digital streaming led to its downfall. In the fast-paced tech industry, adaptability is crucial.
  2. Customer-Centric Approach: Blockbuster focused on late fees and in-store rentals, while Netflix prioritized customer convenience and personalized recommendations. Customer-centricity can make or break a business.

Netflix began as a DVD rental-by-mail service but quickly recognized the shift to online streaming. The company invested heavily in technology and content, transforming into a global streaming giant with millions of subscribers worldwide.

Lesson Learned from Netflix's Success:

  1. Embrace Disruption: Netflix disrupted its DVD rental model to embrace streaming. Successful startups aren't afraid to disrupt their business models .
  2. Innovate Continuously: Netflix's commitment to original content and user experience innovations kept it ahead of the competition.


Startup failures are a part of the entrepreneurial journey, but they can be valuable sources of insight. Understanding the common causes of failure and learning from real-world examples can help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the challenging startup landscape.

Remember that building a successful startup requires more than just a good idea. It demands market validation, financial prudence, a strong team, adaptability, and a relentless focus on delivering customer value. While the road to success is riddled with obstacles, each failure is an opportunity to learn, adapt, and ultimately thrive in the ever-evolving world of startups.

So, if you have an idea brewing and are looking for the right partners to bring it to life, remember. Let's innovate together. To learn more about our Product Innovation Services, where we help startups on HOW NOT TO FAIL. Connect with us today.

Credit: CB Insight research market

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