Arthur A. Boni
Editor in Chief, J. Commercial Biotechnology



The recently published book “Why Startups Fail: New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success” authored by Tom Eisenmann summarizes research on a much debated topic- what is the reason or reasons whey startups fail? The book is based on an extensive, multi- year study led by Eisenmann with assistance from his students at the Harvard Business School (HBS). Their study examined failure modes in 470 technology companies with an objective of answering more definitively why startup companies fail. Therefore, the Eisenman book provides a “deep dive” of what we can learn about the failure modes of startups in the technology industry. We recommend this book for anyone who seeks an answer to why companies fail. But, can we extrapolate their findings to the biopharma industry? While there are definitely differences across startups in different industries, e. g. “tech to biopharma/med tech/digital health” It is our opinion that cross-industry benchmarking can be a very useful methodology that may instruct entrepreneurs on how to minimize “errors of both omission and commission”, and how to start and grow successful companies – across industries, including health related organizations; biopharma, MedTech, and the emerging field of digital health. Our concluding section, focuses on special issues pertinent to the unique challenges for biopharma companies. This comparison is supported by a­­ short summary of a recent overview article by Boni and Abremski . This article identified best practices for starting and growing successful companies in digital health based on our respective experiences at Carnegie Mellon University, and UC San Diego. Evidence from both tech and biotech seem to support an overall conclusion that the most important predictor for startup company success is the extended team.