by Working Woman
As already discussed in the first blog, the 90’s was the era when the world experienced the surge of the startup company. Startups, such as dot com retailers Amazon (1994), eBay (1995), the search giant, Google (1998), embraced and led the networked economy. Even though the burst of the financial bubble in the early 2001 shook things up, and negatively impacted entrepreneurship, by 2003, against all Cassandras who never believed in a new economy, there was a new wave of tech companies. 2004 saw the birth of the most popular startups so far, Facebook and as the old hierarchical business model was being replaced by networks, startups continued to function within that network system. Untouched by the global financial crisis of 2008, continued into 2012, which was one of the most incredible years for startups, as a great number of new startups emerged and existing ones bloomed.
The important pattern emerging, as we already discussed in the first blog, is a new type of entrepreneurship. This new type is all about THE idea.
Investors invest on the expectation of what this idea will bring anew to the market, not on something already created and tried. As Castells (2009) states “the internet entrepreneurs sell the future, because they believe they can make it” (p. 57) and they are able to convince the financial market that they can. As such, technology is viewed as the vehicle through which these people will go about changing the world. This also helps explain why the first startups were closely tied to technological-based innovation. I believe that the most important shift we see is in terms of the mindset of the people. This is what I keep from Castell’s description of the new entrepreneurial culture: The notion of creating the future and through that gaining financial well-being and success.
I mentioned in the previous paragraph that because the initial startups were technology-based, the idea of a startup has closely been linked to producing technological innovation. There’s been a shift however, from this notion, as more and more diverse startups emerge. To make it clear what it is exactly that we are referring to as we go on talking about startups in our blogs, we present the definition of a startup.
According to Wikipedia, a startup company or startup is an entrepreneurial venture or a new business in the form of a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. These companies, generally newly created, are innovative in a process of development, validation and research for target markets. Steve Blank (2006), a technology entrepreneur and professor at UC Berkeley, in his book the four steps to entrepreneurship has gone a step further making it more specific, indicating that startups fall into 4 different categories:
- Bringing a new product into an existing market
- Bringing a new product into a new market
- Bringing a new product into an existing market and trying to resegment that market as a low-cost entrant
- Bringing a new product into a new market and trying to resegment that market as a niche entrant
So as Facebook and Tesla Motors for example, are considered startups because they produced disruptive innovation and changed an entire market, and are technology-related startups, Wikipedia used the networked model of business, availability of Web 2.0 and crowdsourcing, to bring a new product into an existing market creating a niche for that market, while not being a technology producing startup . Similarly, many startup news organizations seek to use the internet as a platform to create new providers of news.
The startup company differs from any other “traditional” company in that it is characterized by these 4 essential features:
Openess: Instead of product development, in startups we have the notion of customer development. Startups have an initial idea which they test by asking potential users and through that feedback they either proceed or refine the idea and test it again. So potential customers and partners have access (thus openness) to the startup’s product or service from the beginning.
Peering: By being open startups collaborate with customers and partners and this collaboration or peering is reinforced and is seen also within people working in the startup. The ideas of employees are valued and encouraged and se see something resembling more of a partnership than employer-employee relationship
Sharing: Openess, transparency of information, processes, intellectual capital are all characteristics of a startup venture. Not to mention the sharing of knowledge and know-how with other startups, encouraging and building startup mentality and development.
Acting Globally: Though it might be working “physically” on a local level, the internet and the web in particular allows collaboration with other companies or entrepreneurs located in another continent. Its funding may be a result of global cooperation (ie crowdfunding platforms), or have access to their customers located in other countries, are a few of the examples.
The new entrepreneurial culture of THE idea and the “creation of the future” is the one that leads the new business ecosystem. Startups are seen as the entities that will emerge and create the “next big thing to create uncontested marketspace and disrupt entire industries” (Weiblen and Chesbrough, 2015, p. 67). Entrepreneurship is now taught in business schools around the world and more and more MBA students list founding or working for a startup in their career plans, as opposed to working in a bank or investment sector, as was done in the past.
Blank. S. (2013). Why the lean start-up changes everything. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/05/why-the-lean-start-up-changes-everything
Castells, M. (2009). The internet galaxy. Reflections on the internet, business, and society. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Diamantaki, K. (2016). MA in digital communication and Social media. Digital media and CMC. Lesson 1 [PowerPoint presentation]
Feld, B. (2013). Creating Start-up communities. Ritrieved from http://www.tradeforum.org/article/creating-start-up-communities/
Naldi, L. & Picard, R. G. (2012). Let’s start an online news site: Opportunities, resources, strategy, and formational myopia in startups. Journal of Media Business Studies, Vol. 9(4), 69-97.
O’ Reilly, T. (2007). What is web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. Communications & Strategies, no. 65. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1008839
Παραδοσιακή Επιχειρηματική Κουλτούρα Vs Κουλτούρα Startup [Traditional business culture vs startup culture]. (n.d.). Retrieved 29 April, 2016 from http://www.slideshare.net/
Startup. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 2, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Startup_company
Start-ups: Μια επαναστατική εταιρική κουλτούρα (2016). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.gr/money/epixeiriseis/story/26141/start-ups-mia-epanastatiki-etairiki-koyltoyra
Weiblen, T. & Chesbrough, H. W. (2015). Engaging with startups to enhance corporate innovation. California Management Review, Vol. 57(2), 66-90