The influence of the lean startup methodology on entrepreneur-coach relationships in the context of a startup accelerator


The lean startup methodology has been steadily gaining widespread popularity during the past few years. As part of this trend, startup accelerator programs have begun to adopt the methodology as their main organizing framework. At the same time, coaches and their coaching practices lie at the core of many accelerator programs. Despite the widespread recognition of the importance of coaching, there is a lack of knowledge of how the role of coaches in accelerators interacts with the lean startup methodology. Using an ethnographic study design combined with interviews, this study investigates entrepreneur-coach relationships in the context of a university-based accelerator. The findings show that the lean startup methodology influences how entrepreneur-coach relationships evolve and how the formation and progression of these relationships facilitate learning among entrepreneurs. The lean startup methodology creates conflict between the information collected from customers and the (perceived) authority of coaches. However, the entrepreneurial method also enables the coaching to be evolutionary and assumption-changing. Suggestions are made for mitigating challenges related to the progress of entrepreneurial activities and entrepreneur-coach relationships.

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