Abstract

User entrepreneurs are individuals who create and commercialize innovative products in response to their own needs (Shah, Smith, & Reedy, 2012). Though both user entrepreneurship and crowdfunding have increasingly gained prominence as drivers of innovations and fund raising for founding new ventures, research has yet to focus on the crowdfunding performance of user entrepreneurs. Further, these areas have largely evolved as two separate streams and there are important gaps in our understanding of: 1) Whether user entrepreneurs are relatively more salient in the eyes of crowd-funders as compared to regular entrepreneurs such that their crowdfunding performance is superior, 2) What are some of the factors that influence crowdfunding performance of user entrepreneurs? Drawing on signaling, passion, and in-group favoritism perspectives, we compare and contrast fundraising performances of user entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs in the context of crowdfunding. We propose that user entrepreneurs are able to send signals of richer experience, knowledge and quality to potential crowdfunders resulting in positive evaluation and subsequent funding. We then hypothesize that entrepreneurial passion will mediate the relationship between user entrepreneurship and crowdfunding as it signals intense feeling and commitment to project, persistence, potential for commercialization and success to crowdfunding backers. We build on social and shared identity perspectives to propose that shared identity mediates the relationship between user entrepreneurship and crowdfunding success. User entrepreneurs’ embeddedness in the community garners potential crowdfunders’ support and favor as they share similar interests and values.

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