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Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed


For the want-to-be entrepreneur thinking about taking the leap, the boot-strapped entrepreneur trying to energize a business three or four years in, and the venture-backed entrepreneur trying to scale, Why Startups Fail shows you the key mistakes new ventures make—and how to avoid them. Nearly everyone has an idea for a product they could build or a company they could start. But eight out of 10 new businesses fail within the first three years. Even only one in ten venture-backed startups succeeds, and venture capitalists turn down some 99% of the business plans they see. The odds appear to be stacked against you! But entrepreneurs often make the same avoidable mistakes over and over. 

Why Startups Fail can help you beat the odds and avoid the pitfalls and traps that lead to early startup death. It’s easy to point to successes like Apple, Google, and Facebook. But the biggest lessons can come from failure. What decisions were made, and why? What would the founders have done differently? How did one company become a billion-dollar success while another—with a better product and in the same market—fail? Drawing on personal experience as well as the wisdom of the Silicon Valley startup community, serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and blogger Dave Feinleib analyzes companies that have come and gone.

In short, powerful chapters, he reveals the keys to successful entrepreneurship: Excellent product/market fit, passion, superb execution, the ability to pivot, stellar team, good funding, and wise spending. In Why Startups Fail, you’ll learn from the mistakes Feinleib has seen made over and over and find out how to position your startup for success. Why Startups Fail:

  • Shows venture-backed startups and boot-strappers alike how to succeed where others fail.
  • Is equally valuable for companies still on the drawing board as well as young firms taking their first steps.
  • Takes you through the key decisions and pitfalls that caused startups to fail and what you can learn from their failures.
  • Covers the critical elements of entrepreneurial success.

What you’ll learn

  • Avoid the key mistakes that cause startups to fail 
  • Pitch, raise money, and recruit
  • Find the right market
  • Build world-class products that people will use
  • Outrun the competition
  • Know when to stay the course and when to pivot

Who this book is for

Why Startups Fail is for the aspiring entrepreneur who wants to avoid the key mistakes that have caused hundreds of thousands of companies to fail. Why Startups Fail will appeal to venture-backed technology entrepreneurs. It will also appeal strongly to boot-strappers and those who have, by hook or by crook, survived their first three or four years and are starting to hit speed-bumps. It’s an excellent choice for entrepreneurs who want the know-how to make themselves and their companies successful for the long term.

Table of Contents

Part 1—Market, Product, and Entrepreneur  

Chapter 1: Poor Product-Market Fit  

Chapter 2: Bad Products  

Chapter 3: The Missing Entrepreneur   

Part 2— Sales and Marketing  

Chapter 4: Investing in Sales and Marketing Too Early  

Chapter 5: Losing Money on Sales  

Chapter 6: Invisible Startups    

Part 3—Execution  

Chapter 7: Failing to Communicate  

Chapter 8: Not Getting Started  

Chapter 9: Failing to Execute    

Part 4—Capital and Liquidity  

Chapter 10: Pitches That Fail  

Chapter 11: Managing Liquidity  

Chapter 12: From Failure, Success

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