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Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed [Kindle Edition]

David Feinleib
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Feinleib is the producer of The Big Data Landscape, Big Data Trends, and Big Data TV, all of which may be found on the web at Mr. Feinleib’s Big Data Trends presentation was featured as "Hot On Twitter" and has been viewed more than 45,000 times on SlideShare. Mr. Feinleib has been quoted by Business Insider and CNET, and his writing has appeared on and in Harvard Business Review China. He is the Managing Director of The Big Data Group.

Prior to The Big Data Group, Mr. Feinleib was a general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures. Mr. Feinleib co-founded Consera Software, which was acquired by HP; Likewise Software, which was acquired by EMC Isilon; and Speechpad, a leader in web-based audio-video transcription. He began his career at Microsoft. Mr. Feinleib holds a BA from Cornell University, graduating summa cum laude, and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. The author of Why Startups Fail (Apress, 2011), he is an avid violinist and two-time Ironman finisher.

Product Details

  • File Size: 724 KB
  • Print Length: 198 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1430241403
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (December 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430241411
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430241416
  • ASIN: B006RM2KOY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #829,520 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart writing, essential reading January 7, 2012
As noted in the author bio, Mr. Feinleib has spent time on both sides of the table -- as an entrepreneur and as a venture investor -- and that dual perspective alone is an invaluable one for would-be entrepreneurs. Ever wonder why a potential investor refused you and chose someone else? Ever get funny looks from experienced executives when you asked what you were doing wrong? Mr. Feinleib lays out a clear checklist of "gotchas" to consider. Will this book make you a success? No. That's still up to you. But if you have the introspection and personal honesty to look in a mirror and say "is this me, am I making these mistakes", Mr. Feinleib's work provides an excellent self-help guide to asking and answering those questions. A strongly suggested read for any would-be entrepreneur!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book on how not to run a startup August 15, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I borrowed this book from a local library, but liked it so much that decided to buy a copy.

It's quite different from lots of other books covering similar topics. It's organized as a collection of 1-2 page articles or short case studies on what not to do when running a startup.
I've been working in the tech industry for over a decade, including a couple of successful Silicon Valley startups, and already encountered with most of the things mentioned in the book: lack of focus, when to pivot, avoiding small markets, product-market fit, turnover, lack of capital, etc. But still, it's convenient to have all that material available in a concise, structured, and easy-to-reference form.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, With Two Caveats March 5, 2015
By Whippet
This is a savvy, smart book on startups. The author knows his stuff and it shows. Like the author, I've also been a VC and run VC-backed companies. So I'll say two things worth keeping in mind as you read "Why Startups Fail". First, the data shows that 75% of VC-backed founders get nothing past a low salary for all their toil.* That is AWFUL. Keep in mind the VC-backed entrepreneurs are the best of the best. Maybe only one company out of 200 gets VC cash. So that's a bad result. Almost every would-be entrepreneur is better off getting a job.

If you dream of starting a tech/web company and getting rich, your odds are about the same as joining a band and hoping to be a rock star: almost zero, statistically speaking.

Second, Mr. Feinleib writes with condescension about "lifestyle businesses"—but VC firms are the biggest lifestyle businesses of all! VCs are of the "do as I say, not as I do" school. And based on the study just referenced, most entrepreneurs would be wiser choosing proven lifestyle businesses over VC-backed lottery tickets.

But overall it's a good book and worth buying. But if you're considering the startup life, be warned.

* The results of the 20-year study, written in 2010 by Hall and Woodward, can be found here:
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh August 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book could have been shortened to a few pages of bullet points. The author expects that you want to create the next billion dollar company and considers you less of an entrepreneur if that is not your desire.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book December 10, 2012
By Rich
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone starting a business. I require my students to read it and strongly suggest that the entrepreneurs whom I coach read it. Follow the teachings of the book and you have a chance at success. Fail to follow and you'll have almost certain failure.
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