RAVN, a marketplace place for experiences which captured the imagination of the tech press in the US, is to close at the end of this month.
The company was unveiled in November 2011, effectively a relaunch of the original service Skyara which had been around for about 12 months beforehand.
RAVN replaced the original person-to-person experience finding platform of Skyara with a booking engine of things to do and activities in the US.
It had nothing to lose and everything to gain, it would appear - a decent and intuitive mobile application, around 13,000 products on offer in locations such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, with plans to roll out quickly to other cities in the US such as Las Vegas and Washington DC.
The company had two tranches of investment, too: values unknown, but the likes of i/o Ventures and Hillsven Capital were said to have backed the startup.
Most importantly, some might say, RAVN was still being talked about in glowing terms by the West Coast technology media after giving it the almost impossible-to-live-up-to title in the beginning of "Airbnb for experiences".
But while Airbnb has continued to grow (despite a few hiccups along the way), something else has happened at RAVN.
In an email to users, RAVN says:
"After two years of building a new marketplace for experiences, we have decided that it is time to close down RAVN.
"We've had a great time helping people discover unique events and experiences they wouldn't have found anywhere else. And we thank you for being a part of that experience."
Both the website and mobile app will cease to function by the end of the month, the email confirms.
The next project for the team is outside of the travel sector: a discovery service for modern design under the guise of TouchOfModern.
Even back in November of last year, on the eve of RAVN's launch, co-founder Dennis Liu admitted that original visions can evolve when the reality of running a startup with huge expectation kicks in.
"A couple months down the line, we were running out of money, getting sick of Costco food, and still couldn’t figure out a sustainable way to grow users or activity providers. Maybe it’s simply just brute force and we didn’t try hard enough, but there was something about the business model that didn’t seem quite right.
"My co-founders and I had many long discussions and after an enormous number of intense debates and several brainstorming sessions of various business models (Daily Deals, Flash Sales, auction marketplaces, etc), we finally decided to go back to our roots and try to figure out what our original customer problem was.
"And that’s when we realized that we were trying too hard to be innovative, unique, and sexy. Sometimes, the problems worth solving are dead simple. That doesn’t mean there’s an easy solution, but you have to figure out the right problem first."
Lesson for all there. Don't try so hard to do the impossible (being "innovative, unique and sexy" is a very difficult thing to achieve all in one go), stick with what works.
Unfortunately for RAVN, in an increasingly busy part of the sector, even the simple and less sexy things are also hard to pull off.