Accelerators - Market Dynamics and Competitive Strategies: An Endeavour to Explore the Underlying Principles of Startup Accelerators and Their Challenges

Lukas Seidl & Philipp Wolf

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis aims at answering the research question how startup accelerators can optimize their strategic market position using platform dynamics and business model innovation to succeed in a highly competitive market. The thesis is structured into seven parts that are briefly outlined in the following.
Firstly, the thesis introduces the overall topic by guiding the reader towards the phenomenon of accelerators and their raison d’être. It proceeds by outlining the increasing competitive pressure in the accelerator market. This leads to the overall research question of the paper, which is introduced in section 1.3. The first chapter concludes with a general definition of accelerators and delineates it from incubators.
In methodology, the thesis summarizes the underlying methodological principles of this thesis. The deductive research approach based on qualitative data gathered from semi- structured interview with impactful executives from the most relevant players in the accelerator market builds a solid foundation of this thesis. The section ends with a critical review of the chosen method and the case description of Startupbootcamp.
Following the methodology section, the thesis introduces the reader to the theoretical insights of three literature bodies being competitive strategy, platform dynamics and business model innovation. The theory also draws a connection to the accelerator market of this thesis to highlight the relevance of the selected theories.
Section four summarizes the data of the interviews conducted with key executives of Startupbootcamp, other accelerators, namely Axel Springer Plug and Play, TechStars and Microsoft Accelerator, startups as well as corporate partners of Startupbootcamp. Interview guides can be found attached.
Subsequently, the analysis section connects the results with the theoretical insights gained from the selected bodies of theory. The thesis structures the analysis of Startupbootcamp’s competitive potential into two parts. Firstly, the market and SBC’s role in it, and secondly, the program, particularly the content and the participants, are investigated and the findings are presented.
The discussion picks up the theory streams on competitive strategy, platform dynamics and business model innovation. Based on the selected literature, the thesis provides practical implications for Startupbootcamp, the case study partner of this thesis. The section ends with limitations of this thesis. In the conclusion, the thesis summarizes the main points.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages123