Not every business idea manifests into something profitable or sustainable. We have put together ten business ideas that went terribly wrong. Some of them like Theranos and PetCoin were eventually discovered to be a scam. Others like Pet Rock had an unsustainable business model that fizzled out as quickly as it went viral. Then you have the likes of Ford's Edsel which was a commercial failure because it was marketed poorly. We hope Entrepreneurs and Investors likewise can learn for these businesses.
The Pet Rock
In 1975, Gary Dahl released a novelty product called the Pet Rock. The Pet Rock was a smooth stone that came in a cardboard box with a carrying strap. The box also included a care guide that instructed owners on how to feed, water, and groom their Pet Rock. The Pet Rock was an instant success, selling over 1.5 million units in its first year. However, the fad quickly died out, and the Pet Rock is now considered one of the biggest business failures of all time.
In 1957, Ford Motor Company introduced the Edsel, a new car that was supposed to be a high-end luxury vehicle. However, the Edsel was a commercial failure, selling only 200,000 units over its four-year production run. There were a number of reasons for the Edsel's failure, including its high price tag, its unusual design, and its poor marketing campaign.
In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced a new formula for its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola. The new formula was met with widespread backlash from consumers, who preferred the original taste of Coca-Cola. Within a few months, Coca-Cola was forced to bring back the original formula, and New Coke was discontinued.
In 2012, Google released Google Glass, a wearable computer that was designed to display information on a small screen in front of the user's eye. Google Glass was met with mixed reviews, with some people praising its potential and others criticizing its privacy implications. However, Google Glass was ultimately discontinued in 2015 due to low sales.
In 2001, Dean Kamen introduced the Segway, a two-wheeled self-balancing personal transporter. The Segway was marketed as a revolutionary new way to get around, but it never caught on with the public. The Segway was expensive, difficult to learn how to use, and not very practical for most people.
In 2020, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman launched Quibi, a short-form video streaming service. Quibi was designed to be watched on mobile devices, and its videos were limited to 10 minutes in length. However, Quibi was a commercial failure, and it shut down after just six months.
In 2013, Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos, a company that claimed to have developed a revolutionary new blood testing technology. Theranos raised billions of dollars from investors, and Holmes was hailed as a wonderkind. However, it was later revealed that Theranos' technology was not as effective as Holmes had claimed, and the company eventually collapsed.
In 2017, Billy McFarland and Ja Rule organized Fyre Festival, a luxury music festival that was supposed to take place on a private island in the Bahamas. However, the festival was a disaster from the start. The event was poorly organized, the accommodations were substandard, and the food was inedible. Fyre Festival was canceled after just one day, and it left many people stranded on the island.
In the late 1990s, Beanie Babies became a huge fad. These stuffed animals were sold at high prices, and some people even bought them as investments. However, the Beanie Baby craze quickly died down, and many people who had invested in Beanie Babies lost a lot of money.
In 2017, PetCoin was launched as a cryptocurrency that was supposed to be used to buy and sell pet-related products and services. However, PetCoin was a scam, and its creators disappeared with millions of dollars in investor money.
These are just a few examples of business ideas that went terribly wrong. While some of these businesses were simply ahead of their time, others were poorly conceived or executed. Whatever the reason, these businesses all ended in failure.