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The life expectancy of tech start-ups in India: what attributes impact tech start-ups' failures?

Ganesaraman Kalyanasundaram (Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India)
Sitaram Ramachandrula ([24], Bangalore, India)
Bala Subrahmanya Mungila Hillemane (Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 4 October 2021

Issue publication date: 2 November 2021




Entrepreneurs nurture their ambitions of founding tech start-ups that facilitate significant innovations despite vulnerability and considerable uncertainty by resolutely addressing multiple challenges to avert failures. The paper aims to answer how soon do tech start-ups fail, given their lifecycle comprising multiple stages of formation and what attributes hasten failure of tech start-ups over their lifecycle? These questions have not been answered adequately, particularly in the context of India's emerging economy, where an aspiring start-up ecosystem is striving to flourish at an exceptional rate.


The study addressed two specific objectives: (1) Does life expectancy vary between life-cycle stages? and (2) What attributes impact tech start-ups' failures? Primary data were gathered from 151 cofounders (101 who have experienced failure and 50 who are successful and continuing their operations) from India's 6 leading start-up hubs. The survival analysis techniques were used, including non-parametric Kaplan–Meier estimator, to study the first objective and semi-parametric Cox proportional hazard regression to explore the second objective.


The survival probability log-rank statistics ascertain that life expectancy is different across the life-cycle stages, namely emergence, stability and growth. The hazard ratios (HRs) throw light on attributes like stage, revenue, conflict with investors, number of current start-ups, cofounder experience, level of confidence (LoC) and educational qualifications as the key attributes that influence start-up life expectancy over its lifecycle.

Practical implications

The empirical study on tech start-ups' life expectancy has practical implications for entrepreneurs and investors besides guiding the ecosystem's policymakers. First, the study helps entrepreneurs plan for resources and be aware of their start-up journey's potential pitfalls. Second, the study helps investors to establish the engagement framework and plan their future funding strategy. Third, the study helps policymakers to design and establish progressive support mechanisms that can prevent a start-up's failure.


First and foremost, start-up life expectancy study by life-cycle stages provide detailed insights on start-ups' failures. The theoretical framework defined is replicable, scalable and distinctly measurable for studying the start-up failure phenomenon. The life expectancy of tech start-ups by life-cycle stage is a critical empirical contribution. Next, the attributes impacting start-up life expectancy are identified in the context of an emerging economy.



Kalyanasundaram, G., Ramachandrula, S. and Mungila Hillemane, B.S. (2021), "The life expectancy of tech start-ups in India: what attributes impact tech start-ups' failures?", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 2050-2078.



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