From Happy Home Company and Take Eat Easy to AUTOnCAB and BlackJet, these on-demand startups were in demand ... until they weren't.

The internet has trained us to want things faster and faster: Amazon’s two-day shipping and Prime Now service made people rethink how fast and easy shopping could be, Uber’s cab-by-app system made taxi hailing seem onerous, and Seamless forever relieved us from having to awkwardly phone in a 1 a.m. pizza order. But not every on-demand business story has a happy ending.

Here we honor the brave fallen of the on-demand race to your doormat; this is the on-demand deadpool.

The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail
We analyzed 100+ startup failure post-mortems and identified the top 20 reasons startups fail.

Happy Home Company

Disclosed Funding: $7M
First Round: Sep 16, 2014
Declared Dead: Nov 4, 2016

Home services is a market with a lot of potential and Happy Home Company’s twist on the traditional model was to set users up with home maintenance plans. These plans would encompass all the recurring and sometimes nagging things that a home needs to be in top working order and provide customers with a “home manager” to help them find the right professionals to handle these tasks. Despite boasting $7M from investors like BoxGroup, Lowercase Capital, and SV Angel, their founder stated in their shutdown letter: “Ultimately we weren’t able to make the transition from a scrappy startup to self-sustaining company.”


Doormint

Disclosed Funding: $3.05M
First Round: Apr 17, 2015
Declared Dead: Sep 20, 2016

Good help is hard to find, which explains the prevalence of startups looking to connect people with professionals to do any number of odd jobs: electrical work, plumbing, painting, and all those other small tasks a person needs done around the house but might lack the technical skills to handle. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make these companies work, and Mumbai-based Doormint shut its doors in 2016, only about two years after its founding, citing difficulty making unit economics work and an inability to raise another round.


Pronto

Disclosed Funding: $1.54M
First Round: Aug 27, 2015
Declared Dead: Sep 8, 2016

Pronto set out to get people healthier meals faster. The UK-based food delivery service had the ambitious notion to connect users with chefs and get orders to homes or offices within 20 minutes. However good of an idea this must have sounded to early adopters and investors (they raised both institutional and crowd funding), the on-demand markets are fickle and the scrappy startup couldn’t compete with the marketing budgets of Deliveroo and Uber.


Hey Bob

Disclosed Funding: N/A
Declared Dead: Sep 7, 2016

Ride-hailing is already a pretty crowded space, so Hey Bob chose to focus on bike taxis or cycle rickshaws. The service only rolled out in Mumbai and Bengaluru and reportedly had about 500 users before suspending operations. Its founder reported that while they had been seeing profits in their B2B segment, their B2C business wasn’t doing as well. Hey Bob is another in a long line of companies that tie their demise to their failure to raise another round of funding.


Wash.io

Washio-logo-450x140

Disclosed Funding: $13.3M
First Round: Jan. 15, 2014
Declared Dead: Aug. 29, 2016

When Wash.io started operating there was no question it offered a service people wanted — laundry picked up, washed, and brought back to your door. But with a number of businesses recognizing the same opportunity, Wash.io faced a competitive market. When it ceased operations in August of last year, the founder noted, “We generated millions in revenue and hundreds of thousands of orders, but the nature of startups is being innovative and venturing into uncharted territory: sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t.” In October, Wash.io’s assets were purchased by Rinse, which offers its own on-demand laundry service.


 Take Eat Easy

Disclosed Funding: $17.7M
First Round: Apr 14, 2015
Declared Dead: Jul 26, 2016

When it comes to food delivery startups, everyone has a gimmick. Take Eat Easy’s was to bring users food from top restaurants in less than 45 minutes. Despite showing enough promise to raise almost $20M in funding and managing to get out a million orders, the company just couldn’t win out over rivals in the hotly contested space and failed to find more funding. According to TechCrunch, they solicited 114 VCs before throwing in the towel.


AUTOnCAB

Disclosed Funding: $1M
Declared Dead: Jul 18, 2016

Like Hey Bob, India’s AUTOnCAB eschewed traditional taxis and went after a related, but different niche: auto rickshaws, three-wheeled, motorized vehicles prevalent in parts of India and Asia. AUTOnCAB only launched in 6 cities, but its app got decent reviews before they decided to shut down due to heavy competition from better-funded rivals.


Flashdoor

Disclosed Funding: N/A
First Round: Nov 15, 2015
Declared Dead: May 19, 2016

People hate doing laundry, but they love clean clothes, a dichotomy that numerous laundry-on-demand startups have sought to exploit. Bangalore-based Flashdoor opened its doors in 2015 and tried various methods to deliver their customers clean, dry laundry but failed to find a model that worked. “The return on investment was not that great. And profitability was not possible until we reached a large scale,” co-founder Ankit Agarwal said.


BlackJet

Disclosed Funding: $2.4M
First Round: Oct 26, 2012
Declared Dead: May 6, 2016

Uber changed ride-hailing by connecting riders with black cars driven on car owners’ own schedule. BlackJet, a celebrity-backed startup with funding from the likes of Ashton Kutcher and Jay Z’s Roc Nation, clearly took a page from their book with a business model that would sell open seats on private jet flights. The company raised $2.4M in seed funding back in 2012, but ran into numerous roadblocks like high per-flight prices and inconvenient scheduling windows before it ultimately shut down in 2016.


PepperTap

Disclosed Funding: $52M
First Round: Feb 25, 2015
Declared Dead: April 22, 2016

Seeking to give consumers a hassle-free way to get their favorite items from local shops, PepperTap looked like a sure enough bet that it was able to raise $2M from none other than Sequoia. The company took on $50M more over 9 months of explosive growth but that funding couldn’t bring them any closer to profitability. Ultimately the company sunk itself with deep discounts that no customer volume could overcome.


Kitchensurfing

Disclosed Funding: $19.5M
First Round: Feb 13, 2013
Declared Dead: Apr 15, 2016

Kitchensurfing was an online platform for chefs to offer their services. Users could arrange to have a chef whip them up a meal, teach a class, or handle an entire party. It was a premium offering that failed to find sufficient demand, even with almost $20M to spend trying to get it right.


Shuddle

Disclosed Funding: $12.2M
First Round: Oct 24, 2014
Declared Dead: Apr 15, 2016

Shuddle set out to link families with empty seats in their cars with those in need of transportation to get kids and older relatives to their various activities and appointments. Alas, this “Uber for kids” was forced to shut down when it failed to raise additional funding on top of the $12.2M it had already garnered from Accel Partners, Comcast Ventures, and others.


Chef Nightly

Disclosed Funding: $1.5M
First Round: Jul 9, 2015
Declared Dead: Mar 16, 2016

Chef Nightly’s novel approach to on-demand food was to determine what users were in the mood for by letting them choose food categories and learning from their past orders, as opposed to just popping open a pre-set menu. “We focused on creating more transparency into the existing supply of restaurant food and simplifying the ordering process for users,” CEO Michael Sheeley wrote when the company shut down. “That just wasn’t enough in a crowded marketplace.”


Tripda

Disclosed Funding: $11M
First Round: Sep 23, 2014
Declared Dead: Feb 8, 2016

Brazil-based Tripda’s mission was to find rides for both local commuters and people in need of longer trips, but after barely a year and a half in business and $11M invested from Rocket Internet and an undisclosed NYC-based VC, they shut down, citing high operating costs and an inability to secure, you guessed it, additional VC funding.


SideCar Technologies

Disclosed Funding: $36.3M
First Round: Mar 15, 2010
Declared Dead: Jan 19, 2016

SideCar was sort of like Lyft before Lyft was a thing: it allowed drivers (normal, everyday car owners) who passed a background check to offer rides. Lyft did become a thing shortly after SideCar’s launch, however, and then Uber got in on the game with its ride-sharing Uber X feature. SideCar showed enough promise to garner $36.3M before trying an unsuccessful pivot to local deliveries and eventually being bought up by General Motors, who are presumably using the acquisition to fortify themselves against the disruptions that Uber and Lyft might have on the car ownership landscape.


Delivree King

Disclosed Funding: N/A
Declared Dead: Dec 30, 2015

When it comes to on-demand services, faster is always better. Delivree King knew this and focused their business around 4-hour and next-day deliveries. But despite rolling out to 15 cities in India, the company was unable to raise Series A funding. Said co-founder Akash Sharma: “It was becoming very difficult to sustain operations at that level with no funds. This business requires money to scale up and without funds it’s very difficult to break even.”


EsLife

Disclosed Funding: $620K
First Round: Oct 13, 2014
Declared Dead: Nov 30, 2015

Spanish home-cleaning startup EsLife’s motto was “Tu vida, más fácil,” literally “Your life, easier,” but staying in business proved harder than expected. On-demand services companies like EsLife often grapple with legal and labor issues around the status of their workers and while details are few, it looks like that might have been part of what felled EsLife. A major labor investigation was conducted by the Spanish government, followed by a shutdown announcement from EsLife on November 30, 2015.


Dine In

Disclosed Funding: N/A
Declared Dead: Nov 25, 2015

If you’re gonna do on-demand food, you might as well do the best. That’s what UK’s Dine In thought anyway, forging relationships with some of London’s finest restaurants and ferrying their food to hungry customers. However good the food and service were, though, they couldn’t compete with arch rival Deliveroo as well as Uber and Amazon’s forays into the premium restaurant delivery vertical. Founder and CEO Evan Graj had some sharp words for the VC community in an interview about the demise of his on-demand company.


Pickingo

Disclosed Funding: $1.3M
First Round: Aug 4, 2015
Declared Dead: Nov 9, 2015 (acquired)

Another on-demand local delivery startup, Pickingo was designed to integrate into any merchant’s e-commerce platform and allow speedy deliveries. After rolling out to 6 cities in India, it received a corporate minority investment from fellow Indian startup Zomato to help improve their food delivery operation. Just two months later, however, hyperlocal delivery startup Shadowfax acquired Pickingo, folding their talent in with the larger organization, and technically ending the Pickingo story.


Dazo

Disclosed Funding: N/A
First Round: Jan 9, 2015
Declared Dead: Oct 6, 2015

Another food delivery service with designs on serving the busy and hungry, Davo’s spin was to offer a limited menu of items, prepared in their own kitchens, and delivered within 30 minutes. The company rolled out in a few areas of India, including Indiranagar in Bangalore, but despite funding from angels like Ranjan Anandan of Google India and Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founder of TaxiForSure, it failed to find a foothold and ultimately folded in October of 2016.


Vatler

Disclosed Funding: N/A
First Round: Aug 18, 2014
Declared Dead: Sep 16, 2015

Vatler set out to tackle the challenge of finding parking in tightly packed urban areas with on-demand valets who would hop into your car, park it somewhere secure until you needed it, and bring it back to you. Initially rolled out to restaurants in San Francisco, the innovative startup ran into roadblock after roadblock from city regulators and traditional parking companies who weren’t happy about their cash flows being disrupted. After a valiant effort, Vatler called it quits.


Homejoy

Disclosed Funding: $39.7M
First Round: Mar 29, 2010
Declared Dead: Jul 17, 2015

House-cleaning-booking service Homejoy may have started quietly with $20,000 in seed funding way back in 2010, but after a huge $38M round in 2013, it seemed like the sky was the limit. However, customers failed to convert past their initial (usually $20) house cleaning to book regular cleanings at higher, normal rates. According to Forbes, “15% to 20% of customers booked again within a month … though a source close to Homejoy said that experiments in some markets raised that rate to 30% to 40%,” which turned out to be just not high enough to keep the business running. Add to that a wide variance in quality from cleaner to cleaner and legal battles around classifying workers as independent contractors and the outcome was a slow death spiral until Homejoy’s eventual shutdown in 2015.


Leap Transit

Disclosed Funding: $2.2M
First Round: Nov 20, 2012
Declared Dead: Jun 15, 2015

Who knew getting people to work was such big business? While large corporations in major cities have had private, cushy shuttles for their employees for years, the bulk of commuters endure long waits and crowded conditions on municipal trains, buses, and subways. Leap Transit set out to make the trip to work more civilized with Wi-Fi equipped buses boasting leather seats, coffee, hip snacks, and juices. All the perks in the world, though, couldn’t overcome the regulatory issues and accessibility problems that led to slow growth and Leap Transit’s eventual shutdown.


WunWun

Disclosed FundingN/A
First Round: Sep 4, 2013
Declared Dead: May 11, 2015

Of all the on-demand companies on this list, WunWun is one of the ones with broadest vision, built with a simple mission to deliver whatever users wanted from local shops and restaurants. Deliveries were initiated via app, but then switched communication over to SMS to allow communication between helpers (delivery folks) and users. The Postmates-like service apparently had a good sense of humor (and a love of Miller High Life) and even tried to make “wunwun” a verb, which was ambitious to say the least. It wasn’t to be, though, and chore-doing service Hello Alfred snapped up some key elements of Wunwun’s tech and parts of the team in May of 2015.


Ordrx

Disclosed Funding: $1.42M
First Round: Jul 11, 2011
Declared Dead: Apr 15, 2015

Ordrx, formerly Ordr.in, was a universal restaurant e-commerce platform designed to let restaurants of all shapes and sizes upload their menus and take online orders. It was a simple premise with big potential upside, which investors saw and sunk over a million dollars into. Unfortunately for Ordrx and their investors, a patent troll had also seen a potential upside and did what patent trolls do, suing the fledgling company. Money started flowing out the door to fight the patent case and ultimately bled the company dry before it really got off the ground. Co-founder David Bloom has spoken publicly about the threat that patent trolls pose to authentic businesses and is an outspoken supporter of patent law reforms that could help save other companies from suffering a similar fate.


Workers On Call

Disclosed Funding: $30K
First Round: Nov 26, 2013
Declared Dead: Jan 1, 2014

AI is changing the face of work. Workers On Call used an AI system that streamlined matching freelancers with employers who needed jobs done. The system was designed to get freelancers matched and working within 30 minutes, but may have been a bit ahead of its time, as AI wasn’t as developed in 2013 as it is now. At any rate, Workers On Call signed off forever on January 1 2014 with a tersely worded message on its website: “Bye Bye. Sorry Workers On Call is closed.”


RideJoy

Disclosed Funding: $1.3M
First Round: Feb 6, 2012
Declared Dead: Dec 17, 2013

Uber and Lyft have been duking it out for the urban ride-hailing and ride-sharing markets for years, but people looking to travel by car over longer distances still had to rely on friend networks, Craigslist, and luck. RideJoy set out to change this by letting drivers going long distances sell empty seats to those who needed a lift to those same places. However, despite adding riders every month, RideJoy didn’t grow fast enough and wasn’t finding profitability even after raising $1.3M from a variety of angels, including SV Angel and Y CombinatorEventually the company shut down.


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