The Failure and Success of Startups: Part 1

The debate is not about whether 90% or 9% of startups fail. It should rather be about what takes a startup to succeed. It is enough to infer that the failure rates are staggering even in the most developed economies. In a developing economy such as India which is reportedly having the third largest startup ecosystem, the problem is worse. There is clearly no evidence of innovation that will impact life positively.


Please refer to the following illustration. Every major dimension of life on this planet is horribly broken everywhere. Yet we continue to see more and more technology investment in areas that do not contribute to the Quality of Life.


A ranking of U.S. companies by the Drucker Institute, measuring performance on Customer Service, Employee Engagement & Development, Innovation, Social Responsibility and Financial Strength shows the top 10 as Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Microsoft, P&G, 3M, Cisco & Nvidia. Is it any surprise that seven of these are pure technology companies while the remaining three are technologically advanced in their areas of specialization?

We are all aware that we are at the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here is a chronology on how we got to this point of arrival:

  • 1760-1840: First Industrial Revolution - Mechanized spinning of textiles, large-scale manufacturing of chemicals, steam power, and efficiencies in iron-making.

  • 1870-1940:Second Industrial Revolution - Radio, aviation, and nuclear fission sparked the Scientific/Technical Revolution.