Tom Eisenmann, "Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success" (Currency, 2021)


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Why do many startups fail? Tom Eisenmann, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School realised that even he didn’t really know the answer, despite a lifetime teaching entrepreneurship, and decided to write a book to answer exactly that question. You can hear him go into detail on the NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership Channel interviewed by experienced entrepreneurs Richard Lucas and Kimon Fountoukidis. Whether you want to start a business one day, or just have better conversations with people who are in business, don’t miss this “book of the day” podcast. He draws attention to a critical gap in the Lean Startup methodology which can save both dollars and time if correctly applied. This idea alone makes the podcast worth listening to.

The NBN Entrepreneurship and Leadership podcast aims to educate and entertain, sharing insights based on the personal story of our carefully selected guests aiming for the atmosphere of an informal conversation in a bar or over a cup of coffee.

In this episode we do go a little further into Tom’s background that normal, and give an entrepreneurial take on his ideas.

He does a great job of explaining his ideas, and there is much for any entrepreneur to learn.

If you want your startup to succeed, you need to understand why startups fail. That question caught Harvard Business School professor Tom Eisenmann by surprise when he realized he couldn't answer it. So he launched a multiyear research project to find out. In Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success (Currency, 2021), Eisenmann reveals his findings: six distinct patterns that account for the vast majority of startup failures.

* Bad Bedfellows. Startup success is thought to rest largely on the founder's talents and instincts. But the wrong team, investors, or partners can sink a venture just as quickly.

* False Starts. In following the oft-cited advice to "fail fast" and to "launch before you're ready," founders risk wasting time and capital on the wrong solutions.

* False Promises. Success with early adopters can be misleading and give founders unwarranted confidence to expand.

* Speed Traps. Despite the pressure to "get big fast," hypergrowth can spell disaster for even the most promising ventures.

* Help Wanted. Rapidly scaling startups need lots of capital and talent, but they can make mistakes that leave them suddenly in short supply of both.

* Cascading Miracles. Silicon Valley exhorts entrepreneurs to dream big. But the bigger the vision, the more things that can go wrong.

About our guest

Tom Eisenmann is the Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS) and the faculty co-chair of the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. Since joining the HBS faculty in 1997, he’s led The Entrepreneurial Manager, an introductory course taught to all first-year MBAs, and launched fourteen electives on all aspects of entrepreneurship, including one on startup failure. Eisenmann has authored more than one hundred HBS case studies and his writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Forbes.

About Kimon Fountoukidis Twitter Linkedin

Kimon is the founder of both Argos Multilingual and PMR. Both companies were founded in the mid 90s with zero capital and both have gone on to become market leaders in their respective sectors. Kimon was born in New York and moved to Krakow, Poland in 1993. Listen to his story here,

About Richard Lucas Twitter Linkedin

Richard is a business and social entrepreneur who founded or invested in more than 30 businesses, including investments in Argos Multilingual, PMR and, in 2020, the New Books Network. Richard has been a TEDx event organiser, supports the pro-entrepreneurship ecosystem, and leads entrepreneurship workshops at all levels: from pre- to business schools. Richard was born in Oxford and moved to Poland in 1991. Read more here. Listen to his story in an autobiographical TEDx talk here,

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