In recent years, the contribution of an academic entrepreneur (AE) to venture success has been increasingly called into question. On one hand, an AE could be the key to transmitting tacit knowledge and providing scientific human capital to ventures. On the other hand, scientist’s academic human capital may have limited applicability in commercial domains. I propose that the degree of AE’s contribution to venture success is contingent on (a) extent of knowledge coupling in the underlying invention (b) the extent of basic science embeddedness in underlying invention. Knowledge coupling refers to difficulty in re-combining individual knowledge components in the underlying invention. Radical innovations are more likely to have higher levels of knowledge coupling. Conversely, incremental inventions are based on innovation routines that can easily combined.