The entrepreneur’s social network imprints specific behavioral characteristics during firm formation, which can influence the development and performance of the firm, well-beyond its birth. While previous findings indicate that different network actors offer different types of resources during firm formation, we know little about the imprints of the different types of entrepreneurs’ (academic, external, student) social networks on firm performance.

The context of research-based firms spun out of universities is especially relevant to investigate in terms of networking. For example, research is scant on non-academic founders such as external (‘surrogate’) entrepreneurs, who have direct ties to both business and technology networks. Whereas academic contacts are important in research and opportunity recognition, non-academic ties may be more useful for creating a firm, involving a committed manager, and gaining market credibility.