Figure: The rigor and relevance of studies about software startups
Startups are newly created companies with little or no history of facing high volatility in technologies and markets. In the US alone, 476,000 new businesses are established each month,1 accounting for nearly 20 percent of job creation.2 As such, startups are an important factor in the economy. However, the environment of startups is dynamic, unpredictable, and even chaotic, forcing entrepreneurs to act quickly, fail fast, and learn faster to fi nd a market niche and acquire a sustainable income. Sixty percent of startups don’t survive the fi rst fi ve years, and 75 percent of venture capital funded startups fail.3 Most of this is due to the high risk of startups, missed market windows, and other business reasons. To what extend engineering practices impact this high failure rate is still unknown given the premature state of research. We present a detailed investigation and collection of all known empirical software engineering sources related to startups and their engineering practices, as well as an analysis of how accurate and reliable this available evidence is.4 We see this as a first critical step into a largely unknown area—the world of software engineering practices in startups.