Investigating tech startups: The Nine Practices Essential to Building a Tech Company

Jakob B. Kistorp & Sylvia Nedeltchev

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis explores practices within nine startups situated in three European capitals: Berlin, London, and Copenhagen. Within each startup, this thesis examines which decisions and practices have contributed to bringing an idea to market. These practices are further analyzed using known theories within the field of entrepreneurship. The data sample includes interviews with founders of well-known startups such as, SoundCloud, Podio and Moshi Monsters. The founders are invited to share their stories of how they exactly built their start-up from scratch explaining how they navigated the very uncertain process of building a start-up. The aim of this thesis is to illuminate which practices seem to have the most importance for building a tech startup, and furthermore to gain insight into how we can use theory to explain practice. Nine key practices emerge throughout the thesis based on the interviews such as scaling, securing resources and building a team. The analysis consists of three parts. Firstly, the intervews are grouped according to three main themes, which are Human, Creation and Uncertainty. Secondly, the interviews are compared for similarities and discrepancies and finally the theoretical framework is used to allow for discussion between theory and practice. The analysis brings about the construction of a framework that depicts how these practices are relevant to the real life development of a startup. Furthermore, the framework depicts that startups must constantly manage uncertainty, acquire resources through networks and by engaging with their targeted markets. Finally, the most significant practices are exemplified in the discussion and the findings are linked to the theoretical framework serving as the conclusion of this thesis. Some key findings are that founders who engaged with the market at a very early stage have a better ability to scale and that the physical location of a startup is a combination of market, team & access to resources, the founders themselves being willing to move wherever to secure the success of their idea. Suggestions for further research include testing whether the proposed key practices can be adapted to a larger corporate setting.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages176