From Garage Inventor to Garage Entrepreneur Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Miceli, Kevin
    • Affiliation: Kenan-Flagler Business School
  • The American garage serves as the backdrop for the image of the independent entrepreneur. However, literature highlights the importance of resources for entrepreneurs that are derived from experience in firms, universities, or markets. This dissertation investigates how theories from those entrepreneurship studies can be applied in the context of independent (“garage”) invention that results in garage entrepreneurship. In studying the process used by garage entrepreneurs, it elucidates how the technological, social, and geographical opportunity spaces present in the pre-venture period could affect the decision to form a new venture. Using data of non-affiliated technologies from the USPTO during 1975–2009, I analyze inventors and technologies that are at risk of forming a firm in order to understand which characteristics increase the likelihood of entrepreneurship given prior technological development. In the data, I identify a risk-set of 152,092 inventors who will start 5,684 new firms. I find that the nature of the opportunity spaces through competition and resources is associated with the transition from inventor to entrepreneur and increased experience and network strength can substitute for organizational affiliation. Finally, while all inventors in this study start independently in the metaphorical garage, those who transition to an existing company are more likely to spin back out after experience in smaller firms and twice as likely to start a new firm as those who do not join an existing organization.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Bettis, Richard Allan
  • Nerkar, Atul
  • Aldrich, Howard
  • Bingham, Christopher B.
  • Rockart, Scott
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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