New approaches to early stage entrepreneurship: The experimental paradigm

Mikkel Rathje Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Traditionally, long-term business planning has been viewed as a key element in start-up projects. In contrast, newer experimental approaches disregard long-term predictions and focus instead on building fast, and cheap prototypes in a highly iterative process that encourages learning by experiencing early failure. By investigating two separate start-ups in a comparative case study, I will explore how the experimental approaches to early stage entrepreneurship, are affecting start-up processes. Furthermore I aim to clarify how traditional and experimental approaches can be distinguished and finally I will explore the foundation for decision-making in the two approaches. The two cases in focus are two startups that I have founded. Case A) I Like Locals – represents the traditional approaches to early stage entrepreneurship and case B) CykelKarma – represents the experimental approaches to early stage entrepreneurship. In order to gain a variety of perspectives on the cases, the research design makes use of a methodological triangulation composed by 1. Participatory Observation, 2. Historical Data, and 3. Autoethnography. Together, these different perspectives compensate for the risk of bias that I possess in my double role as both researcher and founder of the two startups. The theoretical foundations for the study provide an insight into the processes and perspectives of both approaches to entrepreneurship and create an overview that both explains the similarities and differences of the approaches. As a direct result of the theoretical analysis I demonstrate how a scientific decision-making process consisting of a problem, a hypothesis, and an experiment, is applicable as a universal process in all types of entrepreneurial projects. In the analysis of the two cases I support my theoretical findings by applying them to the empirical data and continue by comparing the two in the discussion. Furthermore, the findings suggest that all entrepreneurial projects can be viewed as scientific experiments, regardless of the entrepreneur being aware or unaware of the scientific decision-making process. In relation to this, I demonstrate that understanding the scientific process can be a great advantage, since this knowledge can lead to decisions based on actual market data as opposed to false predictions about market tendencies.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2015
Number of pages76