For the purpose of this survey, please assume the role of a sole founder‐CEO at a seed‐to‐early‐stage startup. You are in charge of the overall direction of the business and need to assemble the founding team. By "seed‐to‐early‐stage" we refer to the stage in a firm's life cycle where most of the activities are about startup idea development, prototype creation and testing, founding team assembly, fund‐raising, initial customer development, etc. Below, please choose one of two preferential actions that you (as the founder‐CEO) would take in order for the startup to develop, grow, and survive. There is no "right" or "wrong" answer. We understand that many choices require additional information or may depend on other factors. In this case, please just answer what you would typically choose.
Pair Strategy 1 Strategic Issue 1: Networking and Opportunity Identification 1‐1 Identify business ideas through personal observations, and reading books/research reports, etc.
Strategy 2 Build a large and diverse network so that one can encounter more potential business ideas. First seek information from others about potential ideas/opportunities to start your business with and then follow up with research to see which ideas are feasible. As soon as you identify a suitable business idea, first seek advice on how to proceed from close personal friends and family (regardless of their professional background).
First conduct independent research to identify an 1‐2 idea/opportunity to start a business with and then turn to others to seek advice on whether the idea is feasible. As soon as you identify a suitable business idea, first seek advice on how to proceed from professional contacts who 1‐3 work in related businesses (regardless of their personal relationship to you). Strategic Issue 2: Network Utility 2‐1 If the venture's product or service has deficiencies, focus on improving the product/service quality first.
If the venture's product or service has deficiencies, rely on building a strong network to compensate for such deficiencies. Develop your network as a source of competitive advantage in its own right. Build the venture's reputation through your relationship with influential industry leaders.
Complement your competitive advantage (e.g., in product/service quality or operational efficiency) with 2‐2 your network rather than using it as a main source of competitiveness. Build the venture's reputation through improving your 2‐3 products and services.
Leeds School of Business, CU
IT Founder Network Survey‐YAO 2013
Pair Strategy 1 Strategic Issue 3: Network Generation Network organically, establishing new relationships as 3‐1 they appear serendipitously. Pay closer attention to networking opportunities outside 3‐2 of industry‐related events (e.g., private parties and social gatherings). Develop a reputation in your network as a generally 3‐3 helpful person. Strategic Issue 4: Timing of Networking Build a sizeable network of relationships within the 4‐1 industry before launching the business. Observe the network dynamics of your professional 4‐2 community before actively building your network within the community. Strategic Issue 5: Whom to Network with: Diversity & Size 5‐1 Focus on establishing relationships with a few very important people in your related markets/industries. Concentrate efforts on establishing relationships with people in the most relevant markets/industries.
Strategy 2 Set specific networking goals first and then establish relationships accordingly. Pay closer attention to networking opportunities at industry‐ related events (e.g., Meetups, SXSW, Hackathon). Develop a reputation in your network as an expert on a particular topic. Launch the business even if the initial size of your network is small. Actively build your network within the professional community right away.
Attempt to establish