Applying the SHELL model to study the causes of high-tech start-up failures and finding ways to prevent them

Abstract: This research aims to identify the causes of high-tech start-up failures and the ways to prevent them.It responds to calls for more research on why high-tech start-ups, potential drivers of economic development and growth, mostly fail during their early years. Following the work of Cantamessa et al. (2018), which adopted the SHELL model by Hawkins and Orlady (1993) to study start-up failures, this research adopts and applies the same model for the causes of failures of high-tech start-ups. Using a qualitative research approach, data is collected from interviews with 16 high-tech entrepreneurs, who have experienced failure in their past. Results suggest a taxonomy of four categories of the causes of failures, together with two sub-categories in each category, and several ways to avoid each of them are presented. Findings contribute to the scarce entrepreneurship literature on the failures of high-tech start-ups by providing a toolkit on how high-tech entrepreneurs can avoid different kinds of failures.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, failure, high-tech, SHELL model, start-up.


Vedat Öndas, corresponding author, vedatondas (at)

Murat Akpinar, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Business, Rajakatu 35, 40200, Jyväskylä, Finland, murat.akpinar (at)

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