This ‘Debate Essay’ responds to the extensive overview of research on new venture survival provided by Soto-Simeone et al. (‘New venture survival: A review and extension’, International Journal of Management Reviews, 22(4), 2020, pp. 378–407). The material they reviewed exclusively emphasized the link between the talents, skills, awareness of the business owner and new venture outcomes. Our case is that such a review is incomplete, even misleading, because it omits the key concept of ‘chance’, and all references to the stream of literature demonstrating that new venture performance is best explained by the gambling analogy. We therefore set out the Gambler's Ruin model in which new venture performance is a random walk and exit depends on access to financial resources—chips. This model takes the entrepreneur out of entrepreneurship.
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