• Anything that makes programming "easy for non-programmers or businesspeople"
  • Micropayments
  • T-Shirts (except Threadless and Busted Tees)
  • Recommendations based on what your friends like
  • RSS readers, or more generally, sites focused primarily on presenting and formatting news stories gleaned from 3rd party sources
  • Customized personalized newspapers focusing on mainstream news (as opposed to niche industry news with high business value)
  • Find nearby people to meet/date through your mobile phone
  • Anything involving paying people to look at ads
  • Sites that purport to measure someone's trustworthiness as a standalone service, separate from any other context or functionality
  • Craigslist killers--but not sites that attack individual categories on Craigslist
  • To-do lists--there are tons of these, but everyone's workflow tends to be so personalized and specific to that person that none of them really catch on
  • Most blogs that are started with the intent of being businesses
  • Business that let consumers scan some kind of code, number, or barcode in real life, with some special device, or lately their phone, and they get sent a URL, ad or coupon in return.

This isn't to say that these are terrible ideas perpetually destined to fail, rather that they are commonly attempted ideas, that been tried many times, and fail frequently.


Answer by Josh Bob, Founder of a SaaS startup (sold 2013). Employee/Consultant/Adviser to numerous startups, MBA with entrepreneurship focus, on Quora,

Almost anything selling technology into restaurants will likely fail--particularly if it solves a problem for diners as opposed to owners (or managers).

Most people who start such a company are attempting to "scratch their own itch," which means they have limited experience with and more than a few opinions about about what it takes to run a restaurant.

Couple this with a complete lack of concept about the scope of selling to restaurants--how many salespeople you truly need, because sales to restaurants are heavily skewed toward in-person relationship building--and you get a recipe for disaster (by which I mean slow, agonizing failure).

Some examples:
Virtually every company trying to replace pagers or waiting lists in restaurants has failed--even the ones that have been acquired can't really be considered "successful." There are a few left, but even they have some big hills to climb (See: What are the barriers for table service restaurants to adopt a wait list app like NoWait or Buzz Table?)

Quite a few companies have tried to displace OpenTable and have either failed, or haven't really succeeded but are still trying. (See: Are there OpenTable competitors? If so, who are they and how are they doing?)

And I don't have a clue how many companies have tried to do one of the following and failed:
* Check-splitting
* Pay at your table
* Order from your table
* Online ordering
* Menu systems
* Wait-staff ranking
* Many, many more ideas

What are some startup ideas that frequently fail?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Published on: Oct 15, 2014