Study Failures

In business, we like to study companies like Apple, Starbucks, Walmart. We look at business giants like Carnegie, Henry Ford, Rockefeller, Sam Walton. Occasionally we will look at major business plunders, but what would it look like and how much more would we learn if we also study what doesn’t work. Below are a list of some of the largest business failures.

In No Particular Order


1. CBGB’s 

Once a famous punk bar that built some of the world’s most well known rock stars was converted to a Men’s clothing store after the original owner could no longer afford New York City rent.


2. Amazon’s smartphone flop

In late July of 2014 Amazon released the Amazon Fire which was a new brand of smartphone. They failed to explain and entice customers with the device and ended with 83 million dollars in left over inventory.


3. Cosmopolitan Yogurt

Cosmo magazine thought what the market needed was a sophisticated, slimming and glamours yogurt. The product was pulled after 18 months of unsuccessful sales.


4. Life Savers Soda

Hard candy apparently doesn’t translate to liquid form. Apparently, from too strong of brand recognition, customers were unable to separate hard candy and soda. Therefore, it sales lacked and the product was pulled.


5. Colgate Prepared Food Entries

The last thing anyone wants to do is drink a glass of orange juice right after brushing their teeth. Good thing Colgate decided to create a full frozen meal instead. Surpassingly, it didn’t go over well. Most consumers agreed that a toothpaste company shouldn’t make food.


6. BIC underwear

Sure, disposable razors, pens, pencils all make sense. Why not also throw away our underwear after we use it? Unable to really explain the need, the product sank to nothing.


7. Orbitz Soda

Would you like to drink a lava lamp that taste like cough syrup. Well, you can buy Orbitz on eBay if you want to try it? This product disappeared from the shelves within a year.


8. JooJoo

Around the time of the Apple Ipad, JooJoo came on the market for the same price. However an inferior product at the same price doesn’t sell. It was gone within a year.

9. Qwikster

Reed hastings stated that Netflix would spin off Qwikster as a DVD rental business. He took back his statement 23 days later.

10. Facebook Home

Facebook wanted to be your life. Well at least the home screen on your phone, which is basically your life. less then a month later the subscription planned dropped by 99% in cost. Lets just say, no one paid for it.

In studying what works well, I think we cut ourselves short. It can be easy as a student to simply fall in line to what everyone has done before and therefore limiting our ability to be innovative. By studying what doesn’t work, we then are opened up to all the possibilities in which those ideas could have been fixed. We are able to think and create a solution instead of just being handed the solution.

I am not saying we shouldn’t study what has worked, but we should equally focus on what hasn’t worked in a way to learn and adapt to failing situations. In a way that prepares us for real life instead of being given the problem and solution.

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