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Startup time, innovation and organizational emergence: A study of USA-based international technology ventures

Abstract

The acceleration of new technology venture launch and growth is an important and rapidly growing field of practice for university-based accelerators, incubators, and technology transfer offices. Based on four comparative case studies of fast-launching clean tech startups in the USA (two of which were university-affiliated), this paper explains how some technology startups are able to develop innovative products, form organizations, internationalize, and release products into global markets very rapidly, and highlights implications for university-sourced ventures. Findings show that two processes, “product emergence” and “organization emergence,” have to be managed strategically, with time as a critical variable to be considered. This paper suggests that there are dynamic tensions between temporal, financial, and human resources in the technology startup process. To start up quickly, the new international technology venture compresses two parallel timelines: product launch and organization launch, which can also accelerate the internationalization process. This study identifies the organizational formation pivot as a risky but necessary transition from a lean, informal, fast-paced technology development project to a structured, legally compliant organization, in the case of a university-sourced venture fully independent from the university that spawned it, that can be trusted for transactions and investment.

Résumé

Accélérer le lancement, la croissance et l’internationalisation des start-ups: tel est l’objectif des accélérateurs universitaires, des incubateurs et des services de valorisation de la recherche. A partir de la comparaison de quatre start-ups technologiques aux Etats Unis (dont deux affiliées à l’Université), ce papier étudie les mécanismes qui permettent aux jeunes pousses de mettre rapidement des produits sur le marché, d’organiser l’entreprise et de s’internationaliser. Le temps est une variable critique. Cet article suggère que le processus de démarrage de l’entreprise génère de fortes tensions financières, humaines et temporelles car l’entreprise compresse le temps pour tenir deux échéances en parallèle: lancement de produit et de l’organisation. Les accélérateurs jouent principalement en rattrapage d’une lacune de l’équipe fondatrice que ce soit pour avoir accès aux marchés domestiques, pour un accès à l’international ou pour des compétences managériales ou scientifiques. La compression du temps conduit les entreprises à se développer une organisation simplifiée et légère et à mettre sur le marché des produits à viabilité minimum. Les start-ups universitaires ont un meilleur accès international et nécessitent des compétences managériales pour se développer rapidement.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    “Or equivalent” is included because entrepreneurs can be extraordinarily resourceful in order to extend their “runway” before running out of funds. For example, Oil-less arranged for the use of a chemistry lab in a small university in exchange for giving some talks to classes and providing opportunities for chemistry majors to get practical experience as research assistants. When the term “financial resources” is used in this paper, it should be understood to include financial equivalents.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Special Issue editors James Cunningham, Natasha Evers, and Thomas Hoholm, as well as the two anonymous reviewers, for their insightful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper.

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Stayton, J., Mangematin, V. Startup time, innovation and organizational emergence: A study of USA-based international technology ventures. J Int Entrep 14, 373–409 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10843-016-0183-y

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Keywords

  • Technology startups
  • Venture creation speed
  • New venture creation
  • International entrepreneurship
  • University business incubators
  • Academic entrepreneurship

Mots clés

  • organisations naissantes
  • jeunes pousses technologiques
  • accélération
  • création d’entreprises
  • entreprenariat international
  • entreprenariat scientifique

JEL Classification

  • 3 Entrepreneurship and 4 International Business