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Under The Radar: Industry Entry By User Entrepreneurs

S. Haefliger, Peter Martin Lind Jaeger, G. V. Krogh
Published 2010 · Economics

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We inductively develop a model of the commercialization process for new products or services user entrepreneurs undertake when entering an industry while drawing on proprietary technology developed in another industry. Extending the growing field of user entrepreneurship, we identify a two-phase approach to industry entry by user entrepreneurs who start "under the radar" of incumbent firms, gain experience, attract a first potential customer base, and then, in a second phase, engage in commercialization. During this process, a community of fellow users is of major importance for the entrepreneur, serving as a knowledge pool for skills development and experimentation with different commercialization paths. We study a nascent group of firms founded by users of video games who became entrepreneurs on entering the animation industry by producing Machinima, a new film genre characterized by shooting film in video games. We explain how user entrepreneurs gain access to complementary assets (video games) for their new use (shooting film), how they deal with intellectual property issues when using other firms' assets, and how user entrepreneurs combine domain knowledge about film production with their experience in video games and the art of Machinima. Our propositions hold implications for management and policy.
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