Entrepreneurship, Experimentation, and Performance: Evidence from the US Software Industry

Andrea Contigiani, Management, The Wharton School

Abstract: Experimentation is the center of a fascinating debate among entrepreneurship practitioners. Inspired by the lean startup, much current practice advocates the intense use of experimentation. Conversely, a large entrepreneurship tradition emphasizes the importance of design and planning. Despite the relevance of this debate, we have no logically rigorous and empirically supported theory of experimentation. To fill this gap, I investigate the impact of experimentation on performance in entrepreneurial ventures, seeking to identify venture- and market-level conditions under which experimentation is most valuable. I build a novel theoretical framework and test its implications in an original dataset of US-based software ventures.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.