Vicis, a high-tech helmet maker startup, shuts down after raising more than $85 million from about 400 investors
It’s probably not a good way to end the year. But again, as we about to start the new decade, it’s good to look back, reflect, learn from our mistakes (and others’ mistakes), and start afresh. Back in April of 2018, we featured Vicis, a once high-flying sports startup that designs football helmet technology built to mitigate the impacts believed to cause concussions. Back then, two of Vicis’ helmets were recognized by the NFL as the safest helmets in football.
Vicis’ helmets swept the top two spots on a list made up mostly of helmets from Riddell and Schutt–two legacy companies that as of 2016 owned a combined 90 percent of the U.S. market. Vicis’ ZERO1 high-tech football helmet was built to mitigate the impacts believed to cause concussions and is worn by NFL and NCAA players across the nation. However, the helmet costs a whopping $950.
You may be wondering what went wrong for Vicis. After all, its ZERO1 helmet was ranked #1 in 2017 NFL/NFLPA Helmet Performance Testing. It turned out the Vicis was unable to generate enough sales to keep the company afloat. According to GeekWire, which was first broke the news, the Seattle-based Vicis was not “breaking even” and had to raise new funding to keep itself above the water. The startup decided to shut down after burning through over $85 million of investors’s money.
The shutdown may not come as a surprise to many. In November, Vicis’ CEO Dave Marver stepped down from the company. Dave Marver co-founded Vicis in 2013 with Jonathan Posner, Per Reinhall, and Sam Browd after it spun out of the University of Washington. Vicis’ goal at the time was to minimize the impact of sports-related head injuries. Harnessing novel technologies and insights from the latest medical research, the company designs and develops headgear that improves protection and performance for athletes of all ages. Since its launch in 2017, its ZERO1 football helmet has consistently ranked first in NFL/NFLPA Helmet Performance testing and was named one of TIME Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions.
GeekWire also revealed a list of 389 investors that invested in Vicis. The list, which was never before made public, spans nearly eight pages in King County Superior Court documents unearthed by GeekWire. is closing its door after burning through over $85 million of investors’s money.
In its last message to its customers and fans, Vicis’ team left the following painful message on its website. We hope every startup founder could learn from Vicis’ failure. Startup success is not just about raising funding but also about creating customers want, and having a sustainable business model that generate enough revenue to keep the business afloat.