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Why Startups Fail – with Tom Eisenmann from Harvard Business School

Tom Eisenmann is a professor at Harvard Business School teaching entrepreneurship and is the author of ‘The Fail-Safe Startup’

He discusses his book and the stages a business goes through in its creation along with the potential challenges across the start-up period.

Bringing together the value proposition, the go-to-market plan, the technology and operations along with a cash flow formula are all elements that need to work together dynamically and Tom and Nick discuss all things startup and share great examples in this informative episode that is a must-listen for any entrepreneur. 


  • Finding ideas and validating the concept is the first stage for any business followed by bringing together all the resources required
  • An entrepreneur is someone who pursues an idea without all the resources initially
  • Resource mobilisation and exploring the opportunity go side by side
  • When you have a product-market then you can start to scale
  • Big company people in start-ups can interrupt the rhythm
  • Entrepreneurs can be so focused on getting ahead they skip the up-front market research.
  • Customer discovery before you engineer the product is a better approach
  • Your success with early adopters of your product may not be replicated with mainstream customers
  • Every entrepreneur needs early adopters but mainstream customers will require marketing spend.
  • If you are in an industry that requires expertise you need to make sure you or someone in your team has the expertise necessary.
  • Make sure you do the upfront research and be aware that the success with early adopters may not be indicative of a mainstream customer.
  • One of the hardest decisions as an entrepreneur is knowing when to shut down
  • If the odds of turning it around are increasingly small and you aren’t enjoying it then it’s time to shut down gracefully.
  • Having failed you can learn from the experience and move forward.


‘For some people, an idea will just pop into their minds for those there is a search’

‘In a start-up, you have to make things happen’

‘Entrepreneurs are often like Peter Pan and don’t want to grow up’


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The Fail-Safe Startup – Tom Eisenmann


My name is Nick Bradley. I’m an entrepreneur, author, speaker and investor. My background is in growing and scaling VC and Private Equity backed businesses.

Having successfully built, bought and sold a number of companies, and removed myself from day-to-day operations, my focus now is on helping entrepreneurs get to where they want to be, in business and in life. As well as investing in growth businesses and backing turnarounds – with the ultimate aim of creating value from significant capital events.

I’m passionate about personal and professional development – showing up and being the best version of myself … every day.

My bigger vision is to help bring entrepreneurial skills, experience and mindset to people in developing nations – so they can follow their dreams, live life more on their terms – utilising entrepreneurship as a global force for good.


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Scale Up Your Business website: www.suyb.global