A strategic partner selection decision-making support methodology in the business modelling phase for startups in the pre-incubation phase
Authors: Evangelos Markopoulos, Emmanuel Querrec, Mika Luimula
Abstract: Partner choice is an important element for any business throughout its lifecycle. It is even more strategic in early startup stages, when the business model is set in the pre-incubation phase.Entrepreneurs are confronted to take decisions on which partners to choose. Those strategic decisions on which partners to commit with, and defining their roles, can be made more or less formally, with the risk of relying on “gut feelings” when there is complex data to be taken in consideration and when there is pressure, constraints, limited resources and no proper methodology for the entrepreneur to base its decision on.Confronted to such a situation, it is interesting to consider building a decision-making support methodology for strategic partner choice for in the business modelling phase of a startup pre-incubation phase. This can offer support to the entrepreneur and make its leadership anchored in more formal approach to decision-making.This research presents a methodological framework that can support early startups, while still in the pre-incubation phase, to select the most suitable strategic business partner(s) and develop, based on that, their business operations, management, development and commercialization models. The methodology offers an initial approach which allows an entrepreneur to make more formal investigation and be assisted in the decision-making process on choosing the partners and defining their roles and contribution in the strategy of the start-up. Specifically, the methodology intends to provide support on selecting the most relevant and feasible data types that need to be collected for the effective partner evaluation and selection. Furthermore, it provides a data collection mechanism and algorithm, a partner evaluation procedure, support on identifying the strategic intend or need from a specific partner, the analysis of the potential partner based on the partnership needs, a scoring tableau based on several parameters per partner selection criteria and finally the calculation of the potential partner’s score. The research conducted evaluated twenty-one potential partners for a VR training startup that intends to operate in the following months and it is currently at the partnerships establishment phase. The partners that have been analyzed derive from eight, related to the start-up, professional sectors, from five countries, and with more than fifty unique activities that cover the fourteen key parameters of the partner evaluation methodology. The paper presents the overall methodological approach in stages and the procedure (steps) of each stage. It indicates the goal setting approach, the evaluation of the partner’s activities, the partner’s evaluation scorecard, the computation of the scoring process and the visualization of the scoring results in tables and charts that create a partner’s evaluation dashboard for effective partners comparison in total or in specific partnership requirements as set in the partnerships strategy and objectives. It must be noted that the proposed methodology is not an optimal tool but more of a heuristic exploratory tool. Further research has been scheduled to be extend the testing of the methodology with more cases, to increase the number of partner evaluation parameters and to link several of the related parameter metrics with sources than can provide more subjective values.
Keywords: Stat-up, Entrepreneurship, Business Plan, Business Model, Partnership, Strategy, Management, Leadership
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