Selling snake oil and unicorns : performative standardization in the evaluation of early-stage entrepreneurial ideas
- This dissertation investigates the process through which venture capital and angel investors evaluate early-stage entrepreneurial ideas. It draws on three sources of data: an ethnographic study conducted across two years of an annual pitch competition in Silicon Valley, archival data from this competition, and interviews with early-stage investors. Chapter 1 inductively examines how structural and temporal constraints within the startup funding ecosystem set the stage for a heretofore unexamined evaluation process. This chapter introduces this process—performative standardization—as involving the collaborative construction of an idea's value by investors and entrepreneurs, followed by the assessment of this constructed value according to widely-shared investor standards. Building on these findings, Chapter 2 delves into how a startup idea's value is quantified and defined, and develops a process model specifying performative standardization. Paradoxically, this chapter finds that investors both acknowledge an idea's quantified value to be subjective and unknowable, yet place weight on it when making evaluative decisions. Chapter 3 leverages the pitch competition's archival data to analyze the consequences of performative standardization. The results reveal how entrepreneurs predominantly adapt their pitches—specifically, the future financial projections detailing an idea's value in the future—to align with investor expectations following the performative standardization process. Moreover, the results show that investors evaluate ideas more positively when pitches include aspects of performative standardization that meet widely-shared standards. Collectively, these chapters underscore the significance of performative standardization as a cultural process that serves not only to assess ideas at the point of evaluation, but also to coordinate and align stakeholders on a common trajectory toward actualizing an idea into a successful venture.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Overmeyer, Natasha Nicole
|Degree committee member
|Stanford University, Graduate School of Business
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Graduate School of Business.
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.
- © 2023 by Natasha Nicole Overmeyer
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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