We love success stories. We love to hear them, see them and picture ourselves in them. Yet when we think about the real life we know there are much more stories of failures than success. But we don't talk about them. We don't like them. Although stories about failures may tell us much more than "...and they lived happily forever after".
The guys in CB Insights collected an impressive list of startup postmortems. All the reasons mentioned there are well applicable to products.
After reading all of them (yep, read them all) I noted to myself the following top 5 reasons why products and companies fail:
1. Couldn't find product-market fitOh, this equilibrium. So difficult to make this right. Yet without a proper fit, all other things are marginal. The right product (features, price, delivery) for the existing, painful problem.
2. Problem was not big (painful) enoughArguably the easiest part, yet lots of teams fail here. We avoid doing market research because we're scared it will show that we're wrong.
3. Not enough fundingNot only money but C-level support or dev resources. Lean is great. Agile is king. Sometimes products need just a bit more money, time, people.
4. Team was not able to deliverThis includes founders, CEOs, PMs. Team - product fit is vital. There might have been brilliant people just in the wrong place or at the wrong time.
5. Not agile enoughWas unable to pivot, adapt when needed. Darwin said it all - the most adaptable win. Yet so many times we just cannot let go. We drag and drag idea until it kills our team and future prospects.
I'd like to thank sincerely all founders who were brave to write those postmortems. It's hard to admit your own failure. Still - "sometimes you win, all times you learn" and you learn even more from failures.