The Institutionalization of Startup Collaboration

Tags: Entrepreneurship

CU Boulder’s Entrepreneurship and Collaboration Conference (the “ECC”), presented by Leeds School of Business, will attract leading entrepreneurship and management researchers to Boulder from February 16-18. The ECC starts with a public panel discussion, co-presented by Silicon Flatirons and Leeds, that analyzes the institutionalization of collaboration through accelerators.

Collaboration has long been crucial to thriving startup ecosystems.  Powerful advantages attend locations where a concentration of entrepreneurs share knowledge across firm boundaries, draw upon a common labor pool, and benefit from functional specialists (e.g., investors, legal, financial and marketing) with deep experience working with startups.  Informal sharing and collaboration is a hallmark of enduring startup scenes.

What is (arguably) new is that the accelerator formalizes collaboration in a unique way. Over ten years ago, Techstars launched in Boulder, CO.  From the start Techstars pursued a distinctive organizational strategy. Techstars relied upon a pool of volunteer experts, known as mentors, to advise and guide their portfolio companies.  The mentor-driven accelerator model pioneered by Techstars organizes networks that foster knowledge flows and information sharing between outside experts and startups.  The accelerator takes something that already existed through informal norms – i.e., collaboration across companies – and built a formal structure around it. In this way, an accelerator may be said to institutionalize collaboration across company boundaries. This model has now proliferated on a global scale.

This panel will evaluate how the institutionalization of collaboration affects entrepreneurs, incumbent companies, and startup communities.

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