Business creation in networks: How a technology-based start-up collaborates with customers in product development
Journal article, 2018
This paper deals with business creation in networks by setting the focus on how technology- based start-up companies collaborate with customers in product development. The aim is to analyze the pattern of customer collaboration by using the industrial network approach as theoretical point of departure. The method consists of a process-based single case study. The focal case is Oxeon, a Swedish rapidly growing university spin-off company commercializing a new technology for making carbon fiber composites. The development of products and applications has taken place in close collaboration with their customers. The paper addresses three research issues, which are related to the timing, mutuality and organizing of the collaboration. The analysis of the Oxeon case results in identification of five crucial aspects on the management of customer collaboration: (i) the need for involving customers early, (ii) the choice of application areas, (iii) the mutual process of choosing and getting chosen as collaboration partner, (iv) the external networking role of the start-up, and (v) the internal organizing of the start-up in relation to its ambitions for external interaction with customers. The results are summarized by formulating a set of propositions that can be taken as starting point for further research.