How the founding team impacts the growth process of early stage innovative startups

Purpose of the paper: The paper aims at analysing the process of startup creation at its very early stage, investigating the connection between the distinctive traits of the entrepreneurs (the so-called founding team) and the arising profiles of their new ventures.

Methodology: The data are collected during the determinative initial phases of the venture creation. Specifically, a cluster analysis is applied on a sample of 107 Italian innovative startups and their 254 founders. The three emerging clusters show significant differences in terms of entrepreneurial profile and the startups fundraising ability.

Findings: Some specific traits of the entrepreneurial profile of the new venture (mainly the educational background and previous experience), may have an initial imprinting effect on its firm profile and, hence, its likelihood to grow and be successful.

Research and managerial implications: Work and international experience appear to be crucial success factors for startups at the very early stage. These characteristics prove to be strong enablers of fundraising, which happens to be vital at this particular time.

Research limitations: A cross-country analysis should be performed to better understand the positioning of the Italian startup ecosystem, and to overcome the country specificities of the sample.

Originality of the paper: The novelty of this work is represented by the exploration of a population on which we have no great prior knowledge, in a significant, yet peculiar, phase of its life. There are not many empirical/qualitative updated works related to the analysis of the characteristics of Italian startups and their founders.

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