Received: 2021-07-18  |  Accepted: 2021-09-03  |  Published: 2021-09-30


Crossing the Valley of Death: lessons for young entrepreneurs


Valley of Death (VoD) is a metaphor often used to describe the situation in which many new startups fail to survive. This paper aims to share the experiences of developing guidelines for young entrepreneurs to successfully cross the Valley of death. The ideal target audience for this paper includes young entrepreneurs eager to launch their startups and preferably attending business incubation or acceleration programs. This research hypothesized to make a conceptual model crossing the Valley of death using the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The entrepreneurship ecosystem consists of six higher-order domains, including enabling government policies and leadership, financial capital, culture, support services, human capital, and markets. From earlier studies, entrepreneurial actions to cross the Valley of death were extracted. Entrepreneurship experts, including business incubation center managers, mentors, entrepreneurship faculty from business schools, validated these entrepreneurial actions. Analyses show four domains replicated in the study, enabling government policies and leadership, financial capital, support services, and markets. Furthermore, culture was partially replicated while the experts did not validate human capital. Finally, it presents entrepreneurial actions used to cross the Valley of death by new startups. These entrepreneurial actions are mapped on the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Findings include an emphasis on the understanding of ten issues including, entrepreneurial ecosystem, government rules, procedures, and incentives (like tax benefits, grants) for similar startups, intellectual property rights for similar projects, the role of leadership in startup performance, financial capital for the startup, risks and decision-making choices, regional entrepreneurial culture, support services for similar startups, markets, customers & competitors, the commercial value of the research project/product. Findings also show how to perform these actions and the appropriate timings of these entrepreneurial actions.


Valley of Death, entrepreneurship, lessons for entrepreneurs

JEL classifications






This is an open access issue and all published articles are licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Al-Shaikh, Mohammad Emad
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Siddiqui, Kamran Ahmed
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
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Journal title

Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues





Issue date

September 2021

Issue DOI


ISSN 2345-0282 (online)


VšĮ Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Center, Vilnius, Lithuania


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