Published: Oct. 9, 2018 By

jessica kirk Kun ZhangBoulder is a hot spot for nonstop chatter around who founds startups and how they leverage existing networks and knowledge for success. Two Leeds PhD students have focused part of their dissertation on digging deeper into the opportunities and constraints for startup founders. In our new series, Research Insights, enjoy a brief overview of what they’re working on. Keep your eye on themthey graduate this year and will continue to provide important insights to founders, startup firms and startup communities around the world! 

The potential consequences of getting “the” exit 

Kun Zhang studies tech communities and social networks to understand the underlying consequences of partnering with prominent affiliates. Often, high-tech ventures have their eye on the prize when it comes to fundraising and growth. They seek to affiliate with the most prominent venture capital firms and alliance partners.  But when they do, Kun finds there is a potential consequence of losing the employees that make the firm most valuable. High-tech employees benefit from the partner affiliation to the extent that they may leave the firm, and take important knowledge (the know-how and know-who) with them.  

These findings lead us to keep asking more questions: In such collaborative and open source entrepreneurial communities, how protective should entrepreneurs be with valuable technology and employees? How inseparable are employees and the technology they develop? How do investors mitigate risk of the very thing they invest in? Kun hopes to take this finding and further explore how collaborating with prominent partners has on the competitive advantage of high-tech firms.

The experience of women in accelerators

Jessica Kirk studies stereotyping of women in entrepreneurship. A pressing question in entrepreneurship today is how to increase women participating and succeeding in entrepreneurship. Anecdotal evidence suggests that new venture teams with more women may have fundamentally different experiences in mentorship and support. In her first study, she finds that team composition is evaluated differently based on gender composition.  

How can both men and women provide a supportive and inclusive environment for all founders? What other factors drive the opportunities and constraints that women experience at the earliest stages of developing their ventures?  Jessica hopes to find out as she is building on this study to examine the experience of female founders over time within the accelerator process.

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