"Why Startups Fail" by Tom Eisenmann

Review by Borodutch

Almost every entrepreneur starts their career with failures. Esenmann, in his book, explains not only why startups fail but also how to avoid the common pitfalls and what to do to fail gracefully. Overall, the common reasons startups fail are primarily internal rather than external. The author presents the following mistakes shared by many failed ventures.

  1. "Good Idea, Bad Bedfellows" — the team ruins the venture
  2. "False Starts" — building something no one needs hoping for the customers to come when the product is up
  3. "False Positives" — happen when founders attribute the profit from lucky events to actual demand (which is imaginary)

Tom provides many examples and discusses real case studies on every point made in the book. Later he also expands the framework to the late-stage startup failures and describes a logical method to evaluate whether a venture is still worth it. The book's last portion is a practical guide on closing a failed venture from mental, financial and legal aspects.

Overall, this book will not explain why their startup might fail beyond the obvious reasons. However, if you read it as a collection of case studies supporting the three common pitfalls outlined above, it's a time well spent anyway.