John Stayton is executive director of graduate programs for the School of Business & Economics at Sonoma State University in California, where he directs several MBA and Wine MBA programs. Prior to this, he was a cofounder and director of a clean tech incubator and the world’s first graduate program in sustainable business at Dominican University of California. He had an earlier career in high-tech industrial sales in Silicon Valley. He and his wife Ana live on an organic farm in wine country.
Purpose: Accelerating the launch of technology ventures with innovative products and services has become an increasingly important field of practice. However, there are very few studies of the speed of technology venture creation, and how some startups are able to launch their organizations and their first innovative products very quickly. This thesis is primarily comprised of three papers that explore multiple dimensions of this research gap.
Methodology: Data from four in-depth cases of clean tech ventures with fast startup timeframes are analyzed to develop theoretical propositions and frameworks that build knowledge of the temporal dimension of innovative technology venture creation.
Findings: The first paper, presented at the Society for Interdisciplinary Business Research conference in 2015, explores the consequences of quickly starting up. Because pre-launch startup teams need to focus obsessively on innovative product development, they give minimal attention to the development of their organizations. When the venture launches its first product, it needs to quickly professionalize management processes (the Organizational Formation Pivot) in order to have reliable transactions with suppliers and customers and to comply with regulations.
The second paper, slated for publication in Journal of International Entrepreneurship and based on a paper presented at EGOS Conference 2015 in Athens, provides a framework for understanding the temporal dynamics of early-stage international technology ventures. The paper explores the dynamic tensions between temporal, financial and human resources. Compressing the launch timeframe saves resources and can enable product and venture launch with minimal external funding. However, reducing the timeframe too much can lead to burnout or teammate departures. Time is a resource to be managed.
The third paper, under review by the Journal of Technology Transfer, examines the mechanisms used to start up quickly, and the role of seed-stage accelerators in that process. Accelerators can help inexperienced and under-resourced ventures to catch up with startups with more experience by providing a pre-existing resource network.
Research Implications: The thesis advances knowledge of the speed of technology venture emergence.
Practical Implications: There are important implications for the practice of incubation, summarized in a roadmap for a compressing the launch timeframe, that integrates propositions and frameworks from the three papers.
\ Social Implications: Accelerating the pace of innovation drives economic growth and addresses critical environmental and social issues.