Being a High-Growth Startup Founder as a New Social Risk in Finland

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Finland is experiencing a startup boom. Startups are innovative young companies aimed at rapid revenue growth. Unfortunately, most of them fail within the first years, leaving their founders without a job and possibly in debt. Previous research did not yet establish how the founders fare after founding their company. This study explores whether founding a high-growth startup constitutes a new social risk, that is, a work situation in a postindustrial society that lowers the founder’s welfare. This study analyzes data collected in interviews with founders and experts and in participant observations. In an innovative approach, this study explores the difficulties of high-growth startup founders from the time of founding their companies on. Findings show that founders experience social isolation and financial and health problems from the moment of founding their startups. This decline in welfare is limited to founders who were not in precarious situations when founding their companies. Findings enhance our understanding of high-growth startups and of new social risks. Discussions on positive economic effects of the startup boom should also consider the negative effects on the founders’ welfare.