By Erin Griffith
March 29, 2015

Venture investors are fond of their truisms, to the point that the startup world is riddled with clichés. But few cut deeper than the one about timing: “The only thing worse than being wrong is being early.” It’s impossible to count the number of startups which failed because the world wasn’t ready for them yet. Since the dotcom bubble, many of the era’s biggest flops have been revived in different forms to become viable businesses.

Today’s revivals have a few key things going for them this time around. For starters, it’s a matter of simple numbers: In 2000, only 43% of Americans were using the Internet. Today, 86% of the country is online and more than half of the population carries the Internet around in their pocket. The addressable audience for a Web startup is much larger.

Further, logistics networks from the likes of FedEx (FDX) and UPS (UPS) are more developed, more efficient, and more cost-effective than they were in the late 1990s. Lastly, thanks to cloud computing and open source software, the cost of starting up has shrunk from millions of dollars to hundreds of thousands or less. This lowers the stakes for starting a business, which means early-stage failures aren’t costing investors millions.

Below, several good ideas which were simply ahead of their time.


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