SGH Startups – the startup-friendly university


Increasingly better access to information and facilitations concerning business operations encourage many people to try their hand at developing their own business. When the market becomes more and more demanding and informed and innovative solutions are enthusiastically received by many people, the economic area is expanding to provide space for individual or business initiatives, innovative in nature, developed in small groups. The number of newly established startups is growing both in Poland and in the world. They are set up by both young people - students or university graduates - and persons with professional experience.


While approaching the phenomenon of startups in a strictly scientific way, one would face a major obstacle: no definition of the indicated phenomenon is available. Although the notion of a startup has been functioning in a foreign literature for a long time, its definition has not been developed. The problem was comprehensively described by dr Marek Laszuk, the author of the study Przedsięwzięcia typu start-up, [in:] Kałowski A., Wysocki J. [ed.], Start-up a uwarunkowania sukcesu: wymiar teoretyczno-praktyczny. The researcher compiled identified startup features on the basis of available literature. The presented definitions come from 14 sources!

Dr. Laszuk identified six features in his elaboration that are most frequently considered when defining startups: an entrepreneurial venture, a venture in the phase of searching for and testing an idea and business model, financing using alternative means to the banking sector, rapid growth, high impact, innovativeness. However, the definition proposed by him was based only on the first three features, which was justified by the subjectivity of the remaining features and the difficulty in defining them precisely. The compilations shows that among the 14 identified definitions of start-ups, the most frequent feature is the first of the mentioned ones i.e. the entrepreneurial enterprise. It was repeated as many as six times.

A working definition of a start-up presented by dr Laszuk reads as follows: ‘A start-up is an entrepreneurial undertaking in the phase of searching for and testing its business model and offered values on the market, most often financed from alternative funds to the banking sector in view of difficulties in real risk estimation.’

The definition which is as close as possible to the abovementioned description is the definition proposed by S. Blank and B. Dorf in the book The Startup Owner’s Manual. The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company. It reads as follows: ‘A Start-up is a temporary organisation involved in searching for a scalable, repetitive and profitable business model.’ The authors of the indicated formula are two outstanding entrepreneurs and scientists, well known in both the world of science and business. Steve Blank is one of the leaders of innovative solutions in the field of start-up development methodology and entrepreneurship teaching. Bob Dorf is an entrepreneur who is a lecturer at the Columbia Business School on the customer development model and the topic of successful startup building.

With or without a definition, startups are becoming increasingly important and constitute an economic phenomenon of a growing importance. The one who underestimates it will be left behind. SGH Warsaw School of Economics does not make the indicated mistake for certain.