Everyone loves a good startup success story, and there have certainly been plenty over the last decade. Of course, for every startup success story there are likely countless failures, and those usually do not get quite the same attention unless they managed to make some headway before their collapse. Here is a brief look at the notable startup successes and failures this year:



The current clamor for data is touching so many realms these days, including a widespread and growing desire to understand one’s ancestry and genetics. 23andMe obviously recognized consumer interest in learning about genetic profiles so it created an affordable testing kit. The results give consumers information about their ancestry as well as potential susceptibility to diseases. This is an increasingly important area, as more resources are invested into preventive medicine and the desire to tailor treatment plans on the basis of one’s genetics. Of course, there are some concerns as to what a company like this can or will do with someone’s data, but that issue is inherent in a lot of online services and applications. But, this company is obviously onto something as they have received generous capital infusions and have partnered with some big name pharmaceutical firms.


This is a startup that had a great yet simple idea to help people access high quality fitness studios without the hassle of memberships or being restricted to one type of gym. The idea of making the things that people value cheaper and more convenient isn’t exactly rocket science, but putting the plan into action can be incredibly rewarding financially-speaking, as is clearly the case with ClassPass. Their current valuation is estimated somewhere close to half of one billion dollars, and it does not look like they are going anywhere any time soon. In fact, their prices are up and the interest is still there.


Cancer has become an all too common reality for countless families across the world, and it affects people without discrimination. For the first time in decades, the average human life expectancy has actually gone done, and this is due, at least in part, to the ubiquity of certain diseases, including cancer. Thus, it is no wonder that a startup devoted to researching, understanding, and ultimately beating cancer is faring quite well, with heaps of venture capital directed its way. Basically, Grail is focused on developing tests that can detect cancer earlier, as this facilitates treatment and survival, and given who is leading it, it will no doubt make some much needed progress.




The use of solar power and other renewable energy sources are still on the rise, but unfortunately SunEdison could not make it work. Many in the industry were highly hopeful, but as the WSJ put it “investors and business partners lost confidence amid mounting debt, incomplete deals and doubts about the company’s finances.” Unfortunately, the ensuing insolvency could not save this bright idea from bankruptcy court.


Given the high cost of medications and the many people relying on multiple medications to manage various chronic illnesses, many expected this online pharmacy of sorts to be a saving grace. And, in light of the fact that Walgreens was behind the website, it is pretty surprising that things did not turn out better. But, it seems that running a successful retail chain just isn’t the same as handling a large online platform.


Like the two previous failures, this is another startup that seemed so promising given that it targeted an area, game development, that continues to grow. According to its leadership, the goal was to create an enterprise software platform and it managed to raise a good amount of capital to get there. Alas, its lofty goals proved to be too much, and it will take an amazing feat to become competitive with the likes of Amazon, as they had hoped. Fortunately, most of its employees have moved on to other ventures.

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