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free and open tools for

startups and strategy

What is Value Lab?

Value Lab is a research-based tool for startups, incubators, innovation ventures and strategy. It offers a scientific, experiment-oriented, practical approach to value creation.


The tool is designed to be used in the classroom, in startup training or coaching, strategy consulting and other such settings. Value Lab provides the scaffolding for startups and companies to develop their own, unique strategy.

On this web page we will post additional tools, slides, tutorials, frequently asked questions, and other materials.  

You can find the Value Lab paper here. Stay tuned for more.  

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Who is using it?

The Value Lab tool is being used in a number of programs including:

University of Oxford Diploma in Strategy & Innovation - see here

University of Utah's Master in Business Creation program - see here

Bocconi University, Department of Management and Technology

Cambridge University (Engineering) 

industrial strategy project, Living Lab - see here and here

If you decide to use Value Lab in any of your classroom or other interactions, please let us know. We'd love to hear about your experiences with the tool.

What about lean startup?

Download open access paper -

Teppo Felin, Alfonso Gambardella, Scott Stern & Todd Zenger. 2020. Lean startup and the business model: Experimentation revisited. Long Range Planning.

There are many startup, strategy and venture-related tools and frameworks out there - such as lean startup and the business model canvas.


So why not use them? 


They have their place. But we think approaches like lean startup are too incremental. The focus on minimum viable products leads companies to do the wrong type of experimentation. It also offers little guidance on what to pivot to.


Startups need to instead figure out what their unique beliefs are - and develop their own hypothesis and theory of value. And only then experiment.

Read more here, in this Medium article titled "Lean startup revisited."

Scientific background 

(click on images to read paper) 

Camuffo, A., Cordova, A., Gambardella, A., & Spina, C. 2020. A scientific approach to entrepreneurial decision making: Evidence from a randomized control trialManagement


Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. 2017. The theory-based view: Economic actors as theorists. 

Strategy Science.

Related literature

Aldrich, H., & Ruef, M. 1999. 

Organizations evolving. Sage.

Barney, J. B. 1986. Strategic factor markets: Expectations, luck, and business strategy. Management Science.

Arrow, K. 1970. The limits of organization. WW Norton.

Clough, D. R., Fang, T. P., Vissa, B., & Wu, A. 2019. How do entrepreneurs mobilize resources to exploit opportunities? 

Academy of Management Annals.

Boudreau, K. 2018. Designing your company. Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper.

Chater, N., et al. 2018. Mind, rationality, and cognition. Psych Bulletin & Review.

Coase, R. 1937. The nature of the firm. Economica.

Chatterji, A., Delecourt, S., Hasan, S., & Koning, R. 2019. When does advice impact startup performance? Strategic Management Journal.

Contigiani, A., & Levinthal, D. A. 2019. Situating the construct of lean start-up. Industrial and Corporate Change.

Eggers, J. P., & Moeen, M. 2018. Entry strategy for nascent industries. 

Strategic Management Journal.

Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. 2009. Entrepreneurs as theorists: on the origins of collective beliefs and novel strategies. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

Fink, T., Ghemawat, P., & Reeves, M. 2017. Searching for great strategies. Strategy Science.

Gans, J. S., Stern, S., & Wu, J. 2019. Foundations of entrepreneurial strategy. Strategic Management Journal.

Hellmann, T. 2002. A theory of strategic venture investing. 

Journal of Financial Economics.

Goshen, Z., & Hamdani, A. 2015. Corporate control and idiosyncratic vision. Yale Law Journal.

Jasper, J. 2006. Getting your way: Strategic dilemmas in the real world. University of Chicago Press.

Kauffman, S. 2000. Investigations. 

Oxford University Press.

King, B. G., Felin, T., & Whetten, D. A. 2010. A meta-theory of the organization as a social actor. Organization Science.

March, J. G. 1962. The business firm as a political coalition. Journal of Politics.

Nickerson, J. A., & Zenger, T. R. 2004. A knowledge-based theory of the firm: The problem-solving perspective. Organization Science.

Rajan, R. G. 2012. The corporation in finance. Journal of Finance.

Zenger, T. R. 2016. Beyond competitive advantage. Harvard Business Press.

Arora, A., Fosfuri, A., & Gambardella, A. 2004. Markets for technology: The economics of innovation and corporate strategy. MIT Press.

Azevedo, E. M., Alex, D., Montiel Olea, J., Rao, J. M., & Weyl, E. G. 2020. A/B testing with fat tails. Journal of Political Economy.

Benner, M. J., & Zenger, T. 2016. The lemons problem in markets for strategy. Strategy Science.

Bennett, V. M., & Chatterji, A. K. 2019. The entrepreneurial process: Evidence from a nationally representative survey. Strategic Management Journal.

Brandenburger, A. M., & Stuart Jr, H. W. 1996. Value‐based business strategy Journal of Economics & Management Strategy.

Cohen, S., Fehder, D. C., Hochberg, Y. V., & Murray, F. 2019. The design of startup accelerators. Research Policy.

Cohen, S. L., Bingham, C. B., & Hallen, B. L. 2019. The role of accelerator designs in mitigating bounded rationality in new ventures. 

Administrative Science Quarterly.

Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. 2016. Strategy, problems, and a theory for the firm. Organization Science.

Felin, T., & Zenger, T. R. 2014. Closed or open innovation? Problem solving and the governance choice. 

Research Policy.

Fleming, L., & Sorenson, O. 2004. Science as a map in technological search. Strategic Management Journal.

Foss, N. J., & Klein, P. G. 2012. 

Organizing entrepreneurial judgment: A new approach to the firm. Cambridge University Press.

Gavetti, G., & Menon, A. 2016. Evolution cum agency: Toward a model of strategic foresight. Strategy Science.

Gibbons, R. 2005. Four formal (izable) theories of the firm. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Ghemawat, P. 1991. Commitment. Simon and Schuster.

Karni, E., & Vierø, M. L. 2013. 

Reverse bayesianism: A choice-based theory of growing awareness. 

American Economic Review.

Malmgren, H. 1961. Information, expectations and the theory of the firm. Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Ramsey, F. P. 1931. The foundations of mathematics and other logical essays. Cambridge University Press.

Pollman, E. 2019. Startup governance. Penn Law Review.

Steen, E. V. D. 2017. A formal theory of strategy. Management Science.

Thiel, P. 2014. Zero to one.

Crown Business.


More to come - for educators,

startups, incubators and VCs.

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