Times of technological change are an opportunity for start-ups to grow. New firms that use technological changes to introduce new products or services as market leaders can gain competitive advantages quickly. However, technological innovations like these must be able to be protected, or they will not last. The new firms must also possess or acquire the necessary complementary resources for the products and the marketing of them (cf. Teece 1986).
Certain types of innovation are especially advantageous for start-ups. In his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen (1997) differentiates between “sustaining technologies” and “disruptive technologies”. Sustaining technologies improve existing product-market structures and are generally introduced most effectively by established firms. Disruptive technologies, on the other hand, which enable new applications for new customer segments, tend to be developed and marketed by start-ups. Christensen takes the example of the computer hard drive industry to show how start-ups have very often seen successful growth over a twenty-year period as spin-offs of established firms. Similar developments can be seen in other sectors.
In the next part of this chapter, we analyze the most frequent growth mistakes in start-ups.