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The imprinting effect of initial resources and market strategy on the early growth path of start-Ups

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  • A. HEIRMAN
  • B. CLARYSSE

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Abstract

Research-based start-ups (RBSUs) differ in their early growth. Some firms grow very rapidly, while others grow slowly or do not grow at all. In this paper we bring insights in the causes of the diversity in the early growth of RBSUs. To identify some of the key factors that affect growth, we study the initial resource base and the firm’s market strategy. We control for age, size and industry differences. Growth is a complex, multidimensional phenomenon. Therefore, we study three growth measures, namely growth in employees, revenues and total assets. Our multivariate analyses show that raising large amounts of VC is a key driver for early employment and revenue growth. Whilst most RBSUs are founded by pure technical founding teams, we find that R&D experience has no effect on growth. Founding teams with commercial experience, on the other hand, grow significantly more in employees, revenues and total assets. Next, RBSUs, which are internationally oriented from the start, grow significantly faster in terms of revenues and total assets but not in employees. Finally, multivariate analysis indicates that firms that are closer to a market ready product at founding do not grow significantly more in terms of revenues and employees, but firms that are earlier in the product development cycle grow more in total assets during the early growth path. We use in-depth qualitative information to explain and interpret the results and discuss the sustainability of different early growth trajectories. Our findings have important implications for entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Heirman & B. Clarysse, 2005. "The imprinting effect of initial resources and market strategy on the early growth path of start-Ups," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/310, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:05/310
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    1. B. Merlevede & K. Schoors, 2005. "How to Catch Foreign Fish? FDI and Privatisation in EU Accession Countries," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/309, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    2. Arne Schollaert & Dirk Van de gaer, 2008. "Boycotts, Power Politics, or Trust Building: How to Prevent Conflict?," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, pages 356-379.
    3. P. Everaert & G. Sarens, 2005. "Outsourcing bij Vlaamse Ondernemingen: een Exploratief Onderzoek," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/306, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    4. S. CLAEYS & G. LANINE & K. SCHOORs, 2005. "Bank Supervision Russian Style: Rules vs Enforcement and Tacit Objectives," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/307, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
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