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Takeaways From Recent Failed Startups


FrontRow, an Indian startup, folded despite raising $17 million in funding and boasting a user base of two million. The platform, akin to Masterclass, specializes in offering a diverse range of hobby-learning courses spanning cricket, music, and comedy genres.

The journey of FrontRow began on a promising note when it secured a $3 million seed round in early 2020. Initially, the platform gained significant traction among users, attracting attention from venture capitalists and getting widespread media coverage.

However, as FrontRow reached $1 million in ARR, it encountered challenges related to user retention despite efforts to introduce new features and enhance the user experience.

In response to these challenges, FrontRow underwent a strategic pivot, shifting its focus towards cohort-based courses. This strategic shift revitalized growth, propelling the platform to achieve $4 million in ARR and successfully close a $14 million Series A funding round.

FrontRow faced underlying issues with its business model despite these achievements. Although initial growth helped offset this deficit, it eventually plateaued, prompting the company to invest considerable resources in improving unit economics. While they managed to break even at $1.5 million ARR, doubts began to emerge regarding their product-market fit.

With approximately 15 months of runway remaining, FrontRow downsized its team by 90% in October 2022. Over the subsequent nine months, the company explored alternative product ideas but ultimately concluded that none aligned with its vision.

Takeaways from FrontRow:

  1. Long-term commitment: Building a successful business requires dedication and a long-term outlook. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to commit at least five years to their chosen market.

  2. Focus on essentials: It's crucial to prioritize key indicators of business success, such as achieving product-market fit, while avoiding distractions from peripheral metrics.

  3. Seek honest feedback: Establishing relationships with individuals who provide candid insights and constructive criticism can be invaluable in guiding a business's direction.


IRL — an event discovery and planning app — closed at the end of June 2023. The company raised around $200M over multiple rounds and even hit unicorn status in 2021. After tripling its headcount, the startup laid off 25% of its workforce in 2022 — and the startup’s troubles only intensified. An SEC probe and internal investigation revealed that 95% of the app’s 20M active users were fake, leading the company to shut down for good.

Per TechCrunch. “Last year, IRL laid off 25% of its team or around 25 employees. During the year prior, IRL had more than tripled its headcount, so these cuts came as a surprise.

Around the same time as these layoffs, IRL employees started doubting Shafi’s claim that the app had 20 million monthly active users; then, the SEC began investigating whether IRL violated securities laws. By April, IRL’s board of directors suspended Shafi and appointed an acting CEO.”

You will never succeed if you lie about your product. It will always catch up with you.


San Francisco-based pet healthcare startup Fuzzy ceased operations in June 2023 despite having raised a significant $80 million in funding. Fuzzy offered a wide range of services including telehealth consultations, prescription delivery, an e-commerce platform, and educational resources for pet owners. Despite securing a $44 million Series C funding round in November 2021, the company faced challenges related to financial mismanagement, leading to its inability to meet financial obligations to employees and vendors. The news of Fuzzy's closure was confirmed by employees via Twitter.

According to Coverager, Fuzzy, founded in 2016, is no longer active, with its website and mobile apps taken offline, and the CEO and co-founder Zubin Bhettay's profiles removed from LinkedIn and Twitter. As one former employee noted on Glassdoor, the business model was deemed economically unviable, impeding the company's ability to expand. Tweets from affected parties indicate a challenging situation for both former employees and vendors.


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