Mobilizing Customer and Prototyping Proposals: How technology university spin-offs can structure and enable the value co-creation process
The marketing literature agrees that the assessment of a technology's value in business markets requires customer involvement, sometimes called “value co-creation”. Empirically it has been shown that the value co-creation process is “messy” and suppliers are therefore trying to organize this in a better way. This paper explores these attempts to structure and enable the value co-creation process as well as the accompanying organizational learning process, on the basis of a case study of a technology university spin-off. The findings document an approach that developed over time, resulting from experiences with prospective customers. This approach distinguished two phases of value co-creation: mobilizing customer and prototyping proposals. Customer mobilization was separated in two steps: identify prospective customers, and motivate these for cooperation. The prototyping-proposals phase consisted of three steps. With each step the degree of proposal elaboration increased. The results show that this method to structure and enable the value co-creation process may lead to an increasingly linear line of action and a more efficient allocation of resources. Concerning the accompanying organizational learning process, the data suggests a combination of improvisation and trial-and-error. These findings contribute to a more detailed understanding of the value co-creation process and organizational learning in a technology-venture context.