Start up NOT to be imitated
Unicorns and ectocorns populate a world that at times actually seems fantastic, but which sometimes brings us back to reality in a drastic and brutal way, that of start-ups.
If it is true that the concept of start-up has opened a new era of business and entrepreneurship, it is equally true that within this context there have been episodes at the limit, or sometimes well beyond, the line that divides the legal from the ‘illegal.
In today’s article we want to analyze three striking cases of start-ups that have obtained millionaire, if not billionaire loans, only to turn out to be colossal scams.
Probably the most emblematic of the start-ups that fall into this particular category. A company that promised to carry out 240 analyzes from a single drop of blood, proposing a real revolution in the sector with the prospect of no longer having to use all the tubes necessary to achieve the same results. A company born many years ago, which for decades has managed to maintain a balance between investors and the media, without ever having had a truly functional machine available.
From its inception until 2015, Theranos managed to raise 1.1 billion dollars, investments that have increased the value of the company up to 9 billion dollars.
Then the problems began: the company’s employees began to leak that there was no machine that could actually perform the analyzes that the company promised, the first investigations began and the house of cards collapsed. Many people have lost their jobs and founders, CEOs and all the big names responsible for the incident have been prosecuted, including criminal and maximal charges.
If 1.1 billion dollars in financing seemed a lot, there are those who managed to obtain more than double, reaching 2.5 billion thanks to a video of a super-performing truck, equipped with latest generation electric batteries, which however had been towed up at the top of a hill from which it was filmed going downhill, with the engines off, sponsoring its performance and silence. It sounds like a joke, but it is the story of one of the chapters of Nikola Corporation, which has chosen a name that in the imagination of startuppers and technology lovers refers to many concepts, success stories and super entrepreneurs, to promote their fully electric trucks. .
Proprietary batteries and hydrogen production had convinced the investors, who in this case were huge international funds, to focus on Nikola Corporation, only to have to discover the bitter truth: they did not have a battery of their own production, they were unable to work there. hydrogen and even the demonstration video was forged.
WeWork was a start-up that operated within coworking spaces, it has had many difficulties since its inception, but the charisma, personality and eccentricity of its founder have allowed it to achieve unthinkable results. Anyone who has ever approached the world of start-ups is used to visionary founders and co-founders, with strong personalities and above all masters of communication, with the ability to create successful claims and slogans practically every day, thanks to which everyone falls in love with them. . So why not give over $ 20 billion to a compelling character, albeit with an unconvincing business model?
More or less this is the question that the media will have asked to Soft Bank, a Japanese investment bank, which has paid a whopping 15 billion dollars to WeWork, and to the famous Benchhmark and Goldman Sachs who in turn believed and supported the project.
The doubts began when the founder of WeWork, after several attempts, had finally obtained the authorizations to have the company listed on the stock exchange, but he well thought of selling a good part of his shares before this happened Ambiguous behavior for those who could see the value of the own company, which raised many doubts that over time, investigations and investigations led to the collapse of the company (although technically it then changed its name and was acquired).