Leading Edge Insights for Entrepreneurs from BCERC

Research insights for entrepreneurs

Considered to be the world’s premier entrepreneurship research conference, the Babson Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC has been bringing together academics and practitioners for 40 years to explore new research ideas and to connect theory and practice. This year, BCERC partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to make these ideas readily accessible and leverageable for entrepreneurs starting or building businesses.

In the online Doctoral Consortium Research Translation Showcase, BCERC features short articles that highlight key research findings and then interprets those findings into strategies and actionable recommendations.


“With these articles, we are putting leading edge research directly in the hands of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators.”
Andrew Zacharakis, BCERC Director and John H. Muller Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies

About this new initiative, BCERC Director and John H. Muller Jr. Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Andrew Zacharakis said, “Often, doctoral research is directed at academic audiences, unless it’s published in an outlet like the Harvard Business Review, and practitioners never get access. With these articles, we are putting leading-edge research directly in the hands of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship educators.”

The 26 articles, written by a global cohort of doctoral students who participated in this year’s virtual Doctoral Consortium, cover a range of topics including building and managing an entrepreneurial team, managing stress and anxiety, and raising capital.

We highlighted six articles, and their key takeaways, from this year’s Research Translation Showcase.

Build Your Team

Several of the articles offer tactical recommendations for entrepreneurs who are navigating through the challenges of picking co-founders, establishing culture, and hiring employees. Evy Van Lancker (Ghent University), explores the importance of human resources in her paper Co-Parenting Your Start-Up: Why Your First Employee Deserves Your Attention and Dedication. Her research found that implementing the right human resource management practices can make early startup employees feel supported, trusted, and motivated to go the extra mile.

From Uppsala University, Jeanette Engzell’s paper The Intrapreneur attributes corporate innovation to intrapreneurs, saying, “This is the type of person who can create and initiate a new solution out of nothing in the established corporation.” She encourages corporations to look for intrapreneurial characteristics in their employees—like the ability to navigate internally and a desire to problem solve—and to actively promote these qualities.

Make Your Pitch Persuasive

Faced with high-stakes situations like pitching to raise money, entrepreneurs may experience anxiety. However, rather than worrying about anxiety, Lily Zhu (University of California) recommends that entrepreneurs actually leverage their nerves in How Entrepreneurs Can Turn Anxiety into Fuel of Success. “They can think about their anxiety as a reflection of their commitment to and passion for their venture,” said Zhu. The end result? A more convincing and persuasive pitch.

Another approach is narrative transportation, or an engaging narrative that starts a “mental movie” in investors’ minds. In How to Increase Your Odds of Fundraising Success with Mental Movies, Clinton Purtell (Oklahoma State University) suggests researching the investor, identifying aspects of their background that you can appeal to, and building those elements into a story you tell.

Compete and Grow

Crowdsourcing can be an appealing way to identify new business opportunities. A study from Laurence Rijssegem (Ghent University) tells us that entrepreneurs need to put certain structures and procedures, like screening mechanisms and thoughtfully designed crowdsourcing initiatives, in place before they can fully reap the benefit of crowdsourcing. She explains, “The key to discovering the most valuable market opportunities through crowdsourcing isn’t about getting as many ideas as possible, but it is about picking the right idea out of a pool of high-quality suggestions.”

Many entrepreneurs aspire to innovate. But, how can they harness innovation to their advantage, especially when faced with a competitor? In Find Your David, Saul, Jaewoo Jung (University of Tennessee) encourages entrepreneurs to focus on business model innovation, rather than on product/service innovation which can be expensive and risky, in order to compete, perform, and succeed.

All 26 articles are available to read and download on the BCERC website.

Posted in Campus & Community, Research & Insights

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