Experimental Learning in Early-Stage Ventures

Posted: 15 Jan 2021

See all articles by Andrea Contigiani

Andrea Contigiani

Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University

Date Written: November 9, 2020


This paper proposes a theory of experimental learning in early-stage ventures. I develop a stylized formal model to illustrate three channels through which experimentation drives performance: information, adaptation, and appropriability. The model represents a nascent venture seeking to develop and commercialize a product based on an initial idea. Through this process, the venture chooses one of two strategies: direct entry or experimental entry. Following direct entry, it develops the initial idea with no additional information and commercializes the product. Following experimental entry, it gathers market feedback through experimentation, incorporates that information into the development process, and commercializes the product. The analysis suggests that experimental learning is optimal only when signal precision is high, market uncertainty is high, adaptation costs are low, and appropriability is strong.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Experimentation, Lean Startup

Suggested Citation

Contigiani, Andrea, Experimental Learning in Early-Stage Ventures (November 9, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3727500

Andrea Contigiani (Contact Author)

Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1144
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.andreacontigiani.info

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