Biggest Y Combinator Failed Startups

+400 YC-backed startups comprise closed their doorways within the closing 15 years. Listed under are some of their most appealing failures, sorted by funding.

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Y Combinator is (arguably) essentially potentially the most though-provoking dwelling within the sphere for an early-stage startup. However, this doesn’t counsel all their initiatives are a convincing success. Startup failure charges are extremely high, and whereas the improbable community, technology, and rep admission to to property of YC can give a boost to their companies, there might well fair perhaps be now no longer a such disclose as a assured success in Silicon Valley.

In accordance to the YC database, over the closing 15 years (and 30 startup batches) YC has invested in elevated than 2200 companies. Out of these, there are elevated than 400 who’re officially lazy. A 20% failure label sounds improbable for the commerce, however:

  • The bulk of YC investments comprise occurred within the outdated-fashioned couple of years (over 1500 within the closing 5). This means most companies in their portfolio are too young to comprise shut down already. If we prolong companies simplest from the most most important 17 YC batches, the price of lazy companies doubles to about 40%.
  • These numbers don’t comprise all of the stuffed with existence companies who’re struggling (and now no longer going) to blueprint any predominant success (an event below), and further importantly: the investments which is ready to more than seemingly be exited at a loss.

Genuinely that a predominant sequence of startups fail even within the event that they’ve the abet of essentially potentially the most though-provoking in all likelihood must haves within the sphere. The aim of this article isn’t to plot YC down, however a runt to let all of us look for from the conditions the join things don’t breeze per concept no topic all of the massive preconditions for success. 

Below you’ll decide up data about some of YC’s most appealing failures.

What’s YC and why are YC startups important much less seemingly to fail?

Y Combinator created a as a lot as the moment mannequin for investing in early-stage startups – they’re the most most important-ever seed accelerator within the sphere. Sooner than we begin with the checklist of YC’s failed startups, honest listed below are the ideally profitable be awake things or no longer it’s most important to take regarding the accelerator and the cost they settle to their companies:

What YC does and why it’s extremely treasured for startups:

  • YC runs a three-month accelerator program wherein they give a boost to early-stage startups with seed funding, connections, advice, mentorship. The program finishes with a demo day, on which the startup groups demonstrate their commercial to build air merchants (in overall seed and VC funding funds).
  • They bustle this technique twice a one yr, resulting from this reality they comprise got the summer and iciness startup batches.
  • They in overall comprise the first build air funding into the early-stage companies they change into this technique.
  • The funding amount for the accelerator program is currently $125k (down from $150k). That acknowledged, they comprise got a “Continuity” fund that can even appropriate provide further funding for his or her accelerator alumni.
  • In return for his or her seed funding, they prolong a 7% share within the commercial.
  • That acknowledged, the honest rate of YC isn’t within the seed funding. It’s a long way within the improbable community of startup entrepreneurs, tech and advertising and marketing and marketing consultants, and merchants that they foster. A shimmering founder might well fair perhaps properly properly perhaps utter this community as leverage helping them flip a factual perception factual accurate into a a success commercial – arguably essentially potentially the most appealing join off of YC’s lower failure charges.

YC’s Outcomes:

  • YC has invested in and mentored elevated than 2200 companies.
  • A pair of of their most appealing successes are Stripe, Airbnb, DoorDash, Coinbase, Dropbox, Reddit, Docker, twitch.tv, Zapier, Heroku, and a amount of others.
  • The mixed valuation of YC companies is over $100B.
  • YC has 18 unicorns (companies price over $1 billion) and 110 companies price over $100 million.

Because their history and success, YC’s accelerator functions are extremely important. Every one yr the sequence of companies that be conscious and are accredited increases: in 2006, simplest 18 companies participated within the summertime and iciness functions, whereas in 2019 YC invested in and mentored 350 startups. Their acceptance label is around 2%, which draw that the ideally profitable applicants for 2019 comprise been around 17k – impending reach 10k startups per batch.

Going within the YC program is a intensive success on its comprise, so it’s properly-identified for the accredited companies now no longer to extinguish the assorted. We did an terribly appealing interview with Richard Wu, the co-founder of Simmer, who participated within the 2019 YC iciness batch, speaking about his errors for the scale of the YC accelerator program.

Biggest Failed YC Startups in accordance to Funding


  • Industry: Appropriate Tech and Regulation
  • Funding: >$75M from 100+ merchants
  • Workers: 100-250
  • Founders: Augie Rakow, Bebe Chueh, Chris Smoak, Justin Kan
  • Closed date: Mar 4, 2020

Atrium weak to be an innovative legislation agency specializing in startups and aiming to most recent a elevated provider than outdated legislation companies with the give a boost to of proprietary abilities. It raised about $75M in funding in 5 rounds and weak to be headed by CEO Justin Kan, the properly-identified founder of justin.tv (later twitch.tv) with an exit to Amazon shut to a billion bucks.

The Atrium vision weak to be to arrangement a elephantine-stack vertical startup – to comprise the ideally profitable provide chain and to most recent a total A-Z factual provider to purchasers. Whereas that is absolute self assurance a viable aim within the longer time length (some of essentially potentially the most appealing and most a success tech companies are elephantine stack), it looks to be love a piece foolish to evaluation unsuitable-settle a explore at to blueprint this factual out of the gate. It looks to be love be pleased a classic case of premature scaling.

“On potentially the most recent time is it now no longer all about being further lean and agile? Being “elephantine-stack” is absolute self assurance the reverse of that.” –Brian Inkster, Provide TheTimeBlawg

Atrium weak to be burning by money very rapid whereas failing to generate predominant earnings. In an try to pivot, they decided to focal stage totally on their abilities and decrease their factual division (the attorneys working for them). This change didn’t figure out within the longer time length and after they ran out of money they comprise been compelled to discontinuance doorways. Satirically, after the ideally profitable shutdown of the agency, the ideally profitable be awake surviving remnant is their soft-working downsized factual division. The tech stack they comprise been specializing in failed to generate any honest rate and up to now as we’re mindful wasn’t got by one other agency.

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  • Industry: Healthcare
  • Funding: $109.9M from 23 merchants
  • Workers: 100-250
  • Founders: Jessica Richman, Zachary Apte

uBiome’s aim weak to be to assemble utter of “Substantial Files and crowdscience to liberate the secrets of the human microbiome”. Alternatively, things didn’t breeze per concept. The FBI raided the San Francisco areas of work of the agency in waste consequence of of suspicions uBiome weak to be billing its client’s scientific insurance coverage protection suppliers a amount of occasions with out the prior data or consent of their purchasers. On the a similar time, they comprise been pressuring scientific doctors to approve tests.

uBiome weak to be actually searching to assert-hack their draw to the following earnings amount with out on the a similar time providing further rate to their purchasers (and on the expense of scientific insurers).

Enhance-hacking on the wild-west which is the facts superhighway is one disclose, however must you try to assemble utter of a similar tactics in outdated, heavily regulated industries in developed, heavily regulated markets – that’s a recipe for be troubled. The tech startup moto of “blueprint first, possess out the supreme implications later” is now no longer going to be ideally profitable for all industries.

Judging from the incontrovertible truth that the agency wasn’t in a plot to compile further funding and even to decide up a buyer, it’s compile to settle that the abilities and technology they’d weak to be underwhelming.

The secrets of the human microbiome live locked, for now, no topic the Valley’s efforts.


  • Industry: Augmented Truth, Person Electronics
  • Funding: $73.0M from 21 merchants
  • Founders: Ben Sand, Meron Gribetz, Raymond Lo

Meta weak to be making an augmented actuality headset. Unlike the examples from above, a piece further happenstance is intelligent in their loss of existence. The Trump administration’s commerce battle with China resulted in a failed funding spherical led by a Chinese language language investor, which join apart the agency in dire straits financially. They comprise been compelled to let breeze of most of their physique of workers, and at the moment, the bank conserving the debt of the agency foreclosed the loan and geared up all of Meta’s property.

Also now no longer appropriate love the companies from above, a buyer weak to be chanced on, which draw that the abilities that Meta weak to be rising weak to be treasured even supposing the agency wasn’t making tall money to comprise ends meet on its comprise (yet). The particulars regarding the deal is now no longer public, on the opposite hand the CEO Meron Gribetz talked about that he weak to be encouraged by the deal: “I if truth be instantaneous in point of fact feel be pleased it’s a factual deliver for the Meta property, and that it will fair perhaps properly properly perhaps provide a future for them.” (Provide)

Whereas the tech developed by Meta might well fair perhaps properly properly perhaps arrangement rate for its as a lot as the moment proprietor and their purchasers, it’s extremely now no longer going that YC and consequent merchants within the agency managed to recoup their losses.


  • Industry: Healthcare, Effectively being Tech, Telemedicine
  • Funding: $34M from 10 merchants
  • Workers: 100
  • Founders Celina Tenev, Timothy Peck, XiaoSong Mu

The premise of Call9 weak to be to enable sufferers in nursing properties to receive faraway emergency scientific consultations, with any ideal fortune averting the annoying live up for an ambulance and in an emergency room.

The join off of Call9’s failure is advanced, however it boils the overall draw down to disclose with the adoption of the “rate-primarily based totally totally care” commercial mannequin – paying for the cost geared up, in dwelling of the time of the specialist. The agency weak to be burning drastically more money than what it weak to be making and at closing obligatory to position off its 100 group. They tried to comprise partnerships with scientific insurance coverage protection suppliers on the premise of saving them money by scuffling with needless journeys to the emergency room, however even supposing this looks to be love very low-rate, they didn’t put collectively to vary the needle tall to retain the doorways build.


  • Industry: Micromobility (electrical longboards and scooters)
  • Funding: $73.0M from 16 merchants 
  • Founders: John Ulmen, Matthew Tran, Sanjay Dastoor

Failure for the merchants (YC constructed-in) doesn’t essentially counsel a elephantine shutdown of the commercial.

Hardware companies are capital intensive and in overall feature on low margins, which draw that any disturbance within the provision chain can join off a huge deal of disclose. Boosted, who practically established the electrical longboard dwelling of hobby with its a success Kickstarter advertising and marketing and marketing advertising and marketing and marketing campaign, weak to be compelled to position off most of its group when the Trump administration started the tariff wars with China.

The peril is dire now no longer simplest for Boosted, however. Fellow YC-backed electrical scooter startup Unicorn Rides (fragment of the very most recent Cool weather 2019 YC batch) went stomach up in waste consequence of of business causes. Competitor electrical longboard producers Inboard additionally shut down appropriate these days. And the e-bike startup Wheels weak to be compelled to let group breeze no topic raising $100 million in funding.

Like minded right here is terribly a decided illustration that even Y Combinator, with all of their muscle and technology, can no longer bend market forces at will. Even their huge investments who comprise impressively managed to validate an innovative product are energy of mind to political and market risks.

Even if Boosted manages to live to dispute the legend resulting from downsizing and with any ideal fortune bettering market must haves, they’re now no longer going to miraculously begin rising and claiming estimable market share. Their first-mover abet is now no longer particularly treasured if rivals build air of the US begin producing a factual-tall, more cost-effective product. All of this ability that that the $70 million funding within the agency is in predominant disclose in spite of the incontrovertible truth that the agency doesn’t shut doorways.

Startup merchants comprise their money from huge exit occasions fueled by mercurial utter (and, frankly, a monopolistic join on hand available within the market). Getting $70 million give a boost to from dividend payments of a downsized agency is now no longer viable. So, the further seemingly waste consequence is that merchants will try to recoup some losses by selling their shares (or the ideally profitable agency) at a huge decrease imprint to one other commercial eager with the dwelling of hobby.

Diverse Failed YC Startups

Listed under are a pair of assorted examples of failed startups that participated within the YC accelerator functions. Even supposing they’re in overall well-behaved smaller and didn’t appeal to media consideration, they’ll also very properly be further representative of the further neat causes YC startups (and startups in overall) fail.


  • Industry: Search
  • Funding: Seed spherical by YC
  • Founder: Chris Slowe

Memamp weak to be one within the overall most most important companies ever funded by YC, and they comprise been searching to rep a elevated search resolution for desktop. The scheme the agency closed, however, is a runt easy: every Google and Apple offered they’d rep their very comprise desktop search resolution (Spotlight and Desktop Search). All of a surprising there weak to be no market want for what Memamp weak to be rising, and the agency weak to be tedious earlier than YC’s summer founders program weak to be even total.

The Buttermilk Company

  • Industry: E-Commerce, Meals and Beverage, Meals Provide
  •  Funding: $120K from YC
  • Founders: Mitra Raman

Buttermilk participated within the Summer season season of 2018 startup batch and is one within the overall a intensive sequence of early-stage startups that don’t put collectively to blueprint the commercial successfully. The explanations for the failure are geared up in a piece further shrimp print by the founder in his Medium build up, on the opposite hand the gist of it’s a runt neat for the startup commerce:

  •  Burnout: working a startup is amazingly taxing, and doing it as a solo founder – well-behaved further so. Burnout adopted by depression and other psychological health considerations isn’t unparalleled.
  • Unit Economics: scaling a consumer product goods agency is arrangement further advanced than scaling a digital product/provider in waste consequence of of the marginal costs of manufacturing. Like minded right here is arrangement further advanced within the meals and beverage market which is amazingly aggressive and clients demand a low imprint even for prime-beautiful goods. This means that scaling a a success MVP experiment to a honest commercial is a sizable peril for startups within the home of hobby.
  • Retail or bust: distributing a product on-line and distributing it by a retail community are two very high quality considerations. Possibilities in overall demand in explain to decide up meals products in retail networks, which is one other utter hurdle for such startups.

Mylk Guys

  • Industry: E-Commerce, Meals and Beverage, Meals Provide
  • Funding: Undisclosed amount from YC and 4 other seed-spherical merchants
  • Founders: Gaurav Maken

Mylk Guys aspired to turn out to be the Amazon for vegan products. The officially acknowledged join off of their failure weak to be that the very thin margins within the meals and beverage market didn’t mesh properly with the high logistics costs of supply at some stage of the US. The agency is now no longer going to be financially a success unless it reaches improbable economies of scale. If it isn’t rising rapid tall to counsel this might perhaps well fair perhaps properly properly reach tall dimension in low-rate time, it’s now no longer a shock the commercial closed down.

Magic Devices

Magic Devices weak to be rising a redesign of the guitar which replaces strings with the aim of organising the instrument further with out considerations accessible. No topic doubts about product-market fit, the agency ran a a runt bit a success IndieGoGo advertising and marketing and marketing advertising and marketing and marketing campaign and weak to be seeing demand for his or her product. Alternatively, after pre-procuring, their clients didn’t receive the product for years and at closing stopped receiving verbal commerce by Magic Devices.

The honest join off of MI’s failure to ship is unknown, however it’s now no longer an unparalleled peril for crowdfunded hardware products. Rising a proof of perception prototype is one disclose, manufacturing in scale is an terribly diversified beast and a amount of of inexperienced startups fail to possess out this divulge in waste consequence of of 1 scheme or one other.


  • Industry: E-Commerce, Social Media
  • Funding: seed by YC

Plurchase tried to flip on-line taking a gape factual accurate into a social abilities by integrating social functions into most recent on-line retail outlets.

On the backside stage, this looks to be love be pleased an terribly low-rate aim. A social layer would add rate to on-line taking a gape, and other industries comprise been a success at collectively with this possess of social layer to their on-line abilities. As an illustration, live chat, donations, ideal friend lists, and other social functions comprise enabled twitch.tv to comprise watching one more person play a video sport from your personal dwelling an with out considerations shareable abilities – alongside alongside with your other of us or folks of the video video games community.

Alternatively, every try to possess out the a similar peril for e-commerce has been unsuccessful, and Plurchase is absolute self assurance now no longer the ideally profitable be awake startup that has tried to comprise e-commerce social from one angle or one other.

Even supposing this looks to be love be pleased a logical peril to resolve, it might perhaps possibly well fair perhaps properly properly perhaps factual be the case that it’s an argument now no longer tall other of us comprise.

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