Why Startups Fail: And How Yours Can Succeed

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Apress, Dec 21, 2011 - Business & Economics - 196 pages
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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 ContentsPart 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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About the author (2011)

David Feinleib is an investor, adviser, and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur and venture investor, he has been responsible for investments totaling more than $100 million. His passion for entrepreneurship goes back to his childhood when he started writing and selling software programs at age 12. Feinleib later joined Microsoft, where he became the company’s youngest technical evangelist. He started four companies between then and 2005. One was acquired by Hewlett-Packard, another by Keynote Systems. After joining venture-capital firm Mohr Davidow in 2006, he became a general partner in 2009, where he led investments in consumer and software companies. In 2011, Feinleib’s love for entrepreneurship took him back to starting his own companies, while continuing to advise and invest in others. Feinleib holds a master's in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, where he was a Kodak Scholar. He is also an avid marathoner and violinist.

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