Understanding how high-tech entrepreneurs successfully pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey

PhD Thesis


Sala, P. (2023). Understanding how high-tech entrepreneurs successfully pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Engineering https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.95qyw
AuthorsSala, P.
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

Purpose: In their entrepreneurial journey, high-tech entrepreneurs continuously face a need to devise a competitive value proposition for the startup company and leverage emerging technology to strengthen the proposition. Entrepreneurial pivoting addresses this challenge by allowing startups to validate and refine both their strategy and business model. Therefore, the research study has investigated two theories: the Lean Startup Approach and Technology Entrepreneurship. Consequently, the study has provided an empirical investigation of the pivoting concept examined in the context of the Lean Startup approach (LSA) and Technology Entrepreneurship to improve the understanding of the entrepreneurial journey for high-tech entrepreneurs. The research also focused on understanding how the life cycle stage of an emerging technology impacts the high-tech entrepreneurs’ entrepreneurial journey. The Lean Startup Approach, the technology S-curve, and the technology readiness level (TRL) framework were investigated to address the above question. The study has provided an empirical investigation of the pivoting concept, which has been explained in the context of the lean startup approach (LSA), the technology S-curve and the technology readiness level to improve the understanding of the entrepreneurial journey for high-tech entrepreneurs leading tech startups. Apart from investigating how high-tech entrepreneurs develop competitive value propositions and how emerging technologies impact their entrepreneurial journey, the research study also investigated leadership styles and their influence on tech entrepreneurs. For this, the study has empirically investigated pivoting from the Lean Startup Approach and six different leadership styles. Due to studying pivoting from the Lean Startup Approach and investigating technology entrepreneurship, technology S-curve and technology readiness levels, this research study is titled ‘Understanding how high-tech entrepreneurs successfully pivot their startups as part of the entrepreneurial journey’. Methodological Approach: A qualitative research method was adopted by interviewing hightech entrepreneurs across the United Kingdom to validate the theories associated with the LSA and identify new insights on entrepreneurial pivoting. The interviews are divided into two stages. Firstly, thirty primary interviews were conducted to understand pivoting and the factors that trigger pivoting; the influence of the phases of technology entrepreneurship on pivoting; and the impact of stages of technology maturity in the technology S-curve on pivoting. Secondly, longitudinal interviews were conducted in three phases with nine high-tech entrepreneurs who were also involved in the thirty primary interviews. The purpose of the longitudinal interviews was to collect further data on the above-mentioned topics and understand in more detail and build up a richer picture on how high-tech startups successfully pivot as part of the entrepreneurial journey. Findings: The research study has validated the existing types of pivots and identified two new pivots (giving 16 in total). The study has validated 11 factors that trigger a tech startup to change direction and identified three new factors (giving 14 in total). The research study also determined that there can be a domino effect in pivoting, and the value proposition can be created and sustained through pivoting. The study has established the influence of the phases of technology entrepreneurship on pivoting and the impact of the stages of technology maturity in the technology S-curve on pivoting. Originality: The study provides empirical evidence on pivots and the factors associated with pivots. Moreover, the study significantly helps to improve the understanding of the influence of the phases of technology entrepreneurship on pivoting. The study has developed a new conceptual framework for TE. Furthermore, the study helped in understanding the impact of the stage of technology in the technology S-curve and technology readiness level on pivoting. The study also discusses the challenges faced by tech startups while pursuing pivots; the domino effect in pivoting; and has found evidence that pivoting leads to achieving the desired results.

Year2023
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.18744/lsbu.95qyw
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Publication dates
Print28 Nov 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Jan 2024
Funder/ClientPuri Foundation
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Related outputs

A Qualitative Research Study of the Tech Startup Journey through Entrepreneurial Pivoting
Sala, P., Philbin, S. and Barikzai, S. (2022). A Qualitative Research Study of the Tech Startup Journey through Entrepreneurial Pivoting. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-07-2021-0528
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