The Entrepreneurial Negotiation Project

Entrepreneurship is a basic human activity. It involves a series of interactions between founders, partners, regulators, customers, investors and others. These interactions happen at all stages of the entrepreneurial process -- from seed to exit. The Entrepreneurial Negotiation Project in the MIT Science Impact Collaborative focuses on the factors that cause entrepreneurial efforts to fail. The great majority (80-90%) of all startups fail, and most entrepreneurs who have succeeded have had to bounce back from serious mistakes. They learned from their failures. Their real-life lessons reveal that entrepreneurs fumble key interactions because they don’t realize that they need to negotiate, or they take a narrow and ineffective view of the process of negotiation. Successful entrepreneurs must learn how to handle emotions, manage uncertainty, cope with technical complexity and build long-term relationships. These all needed to be folded into personal theories of entrepreneurial negotiation.

Our objective is to educate current and future generations of entrepreneurs. We are interviewing successful business people willing to share their real-world mistakes and failures. These include entrepreneurs who have had trouble dealing with venture capitalists, angels, scientific experts, partners and stakeholders. We are compiling and analyzing our findings in the form of lessons-learned in formats that entrepreneurs, students and aspiring entrepreneurs can use to get better at solving problems, negotiating deals, and building relationships.