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Fundamentals of Digital Entrepreneurship
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Objectives and goals

Objectives and goalsClick to read  

At the end of this module you will be able to:


1.Understand the essentials of Digital Entrepreneurship
2.Acquire the basics of Digital Business knowledge
3.Recognize new IT solutions for Business Management 
4.Find out more about a digital Start-Up
What is Digital EntrepreneurshipClick to read  

Definition of EU Commission:

“Digital entrepreneurship embraces all new ventures and the transformation of existing businesses through novel digital technologies.

[Digital enterprises] are characterised by a high intensity of utilisation of novel digital technologies (particularly social, big data, mobile and cloud solutions) to improve business operations, invent new business models and engage with customers and stakeholders”.


Source: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC112439/jrc112439_eides_report.pdf

Definition of OECD:


“[…] the creation of digital businesses and the adoption of digital technologies by existing entrepreneurs. Under-represented population groups in entrepreneurship could be more likely to benefit from certain features of digital technologies for business creation and growth, including the lower start-up costs required for many digital businesses and the wider access to external markets offered by the internet”.





Definition of Digital Entrepreneurship – the Academic perspective:


“Digital entrepreneurship can be defined as entrepreneurial opportunities being created and pursued through the use of technological platforms and other information communicating equipment. Therefore, digital entrepreneurship may fall within many categories of business. As technology advances and cultivates, so too will these categories (e.g. marketing, sales, products, distribution, stakeholder management, operations) and new categories can potentially be fashioned”.




Understanding Digital Transformation


“Digital transformation refers to the economic and societal effects of digitalisation (i.e. the conversion of analogue data and process into machine-readable format) and digitalisation

(i.e. the use of digital technologies and data, as well as interconnections that result in new

or modified activities)”.




Core drivers of digital transformation as identified by OECD*:


Internet of Things (IoT)

“An extension on internet connectivity into devices and objects, allowing them to be remotely monitored and controlled. This enables new business models, applications and services based on data collected from devices and objects”.




Core drivers of digital transformation as identified by OECD*:


Next-generation wireless networks (5G and beyond)

“Improvements in wireless networks include higher speeds (i.e. 200 times faster than 4G) and networks that better support diverse applications through the virtualisation of the physical layers.

This will improve connectivity between devices and objects, and is critical for applications such as self-driving vehicles”.


Big data analytics

“Data that is characterised by high volume, velocity and variety, often sourced from IoT. Big data can be used to develop new products and services, processes, organisational methods and markets, and enables data-driven innovation”.

Core drivers of digital transformation as identified by OECD*:


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

“The ability of machines and systems to acquire and apply knowledge, including performing a variety of cognitive tasks such as sensing, processing language, pattern recognition, learning, and making decisions and predictions.

AI is already part of daily life (e.g. recommendations from streaming entertainment services) and will increasingly drive new kinds of software and autonomous robots (i.e. they can make and execute a decisions without human input)”.


“A ledger or spreadsheet that is maintained and stored across a network of computers.

The network regularity updates the database in all locations so that all copies are always identical. Should someone try to change information stored in the block, the “chain” is broken and all nodes in the network would be aware of it. Applications of blockchain technology includes smart contracts, cryptocurrencies and supply chain management”.

Digital Entrepreneurship: seeking a broader definition

Digital Entrepreneurship is not only blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and other highly complex ICT applications, but also mere entrepreneurship in digital environment.

Digital Entrepreneurship embraces all new ventures and the transformation of existing businesses through the exploitation and valorisation of digital technologies…


Just an example:

Listed among the “Success Stories” showcased by the EIT Digital website (European Institute of Innovation and Technologies), Plugify is an online platform that provides to amateur musicians, DJs and Bands a free digital space where to promote their arts.

Promoters, Pubs and Clubs’ owners can then access the platform and book the artist/musician of their preference via the platform itself.

Basically, Plugify operates as an online agency: for its revenues streams it relies on a small fee charged from each single booking intermediated by the platform


Digital Business Environment

Problem Solving for Digital EcosystemsClick to read  

Digital-friendly aspiring entrepreneurs are asked to fully embrace an enlarged portfolio of skills and competences.

These empowering tools rely for the most on “intangible” intellectual resources mastered through training and experience, such as: 


– Creativity & Critical Thinking

– Active Listening and Dependability

– Relational Decision Making 

– Benchmarking

– Stress-Test Management 

– Data Literacy


Creativity & Critical ThinkingClick to read  

Digital-oriented entrepreneurship embraces common challenges with out-of-ordinary approaches that are nurtured through intense lateral thinking sessions.

The emergence of such a risk-taking mindset allows firms to navigate in uncertain contexts with awareness and great responsibility for both business profitability and the people that are impacted by it. 


Active Listening and DependabilityClick to read  

The practice of active listening allows firms and executives to intercept and decode the “signals” coming from markets, customers and competitors and that impact future strategies and action plans.

The dependability of these data is essential in order to assure great reliability upon each Decision Making assumption.

People in charge of Planning tasks must consider: Who is the source of these information? Where does it came from? Has it already been confirmed or dismissed?


Relational Decision MakingClick to read  

Wise digital entrepreneurs are well aware that, despite their experience, they might still miss / forget / ignore a “piece of the puzzle”.

Problem solving in the digital era requires the contribution and the engagement of multiple organisational actors, each of which is provider of a unique point of view on the context.

Not surprisingly, problem solving and decision making appear as two processes highly collaborative-oriented.


BenchmarkingClick to read  

One of the easiest and most intuitive way to solve a challenging problem is by observing and replicating what others have done in similar scenarios.

Benchmarking is a traditional tool of Marketing Studies still highly exploited by practitioners and experts.

Those in charge of such analysis need to assess with great precision how the reference scenario is effectively relevant to the current one; a precondition from which strongly depends the ultimate impacts and benefits of the analysis itself.


Stress-Test ManagementClick to read  

Several technologies allow for the simulation of plausible future scenarios.


The availability of such information assures 3 strategic advantages:

1.The concrete opportunity to have a look on near futures so to implement from today highly consistent decisions
2.The assessment of all current strategies and objectives in relation to future competitive scenarios
3.The evaluation of how far the firm is able to withstand external disruptions that might potentially emerge in the near future
Information and Data LiteracyClick to read  

Information and Data Literacy is related to the capability to analyse, elaborate and critically decode digital data.


Being “digitally illiterate” does not necessarily implies technical computer science knowledge – it is also related to the ability to discern the information coming from the digital environment while evaluating its reliability.

ORM – Online Reputation ManagementClick to read  

Online Reputation Management (ORM) concerns the monitoring, evaluation and empowerment of the firms’ public perception at the eyes of customers, competitors, investors/shareholders and general public. 

Numerous studies have shown that firm’s public image in the online domain represents one of the most important strategic assets for a business.


Achievement business experience because of ORM

Source: The Importance of Online Reputation Management for Businesses, Clutch (2018)


Online Reputation is a complex phenomenon.

The core elements of ORM revolve around three essential pillars of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility:


FairnessClick to read  

In business and management, Fairness refers to the ability of executives and decision makers to set goals, priorities and actions plans without the risk to arm anything and anyone (i.e. the natural environment, the civil society, the employees, etc.).


In other words, being “fair” means being respectful of others’ diversities and interests.


TransparencyClick to read  

Transparent organisations disclose with clarity all publicly relevant information about how they implement their production, where the resources come from and how they are processed.

An honest communication about performance indexes contributes to strengthen the organisation’s public image and reputation.


TrustworthinessClick to read  

Customers will not turn to the offer of a company that does not arouse their trust.


Aside sales and market share, Trustworthiness represents one of the most relevant priorities of a firm.

Being perceived as trustworthy translates in a very  effective mean to sustain the retain process of new customers and nurture the relationship with the loyal ones.

How to be ORM-oriented?Click to read  

Online Reputation represents a core function in Business Management, so much that in the last few years it opened the opportunities for a brand-new market.

With the help of specific diagnostic tools that keep track of a firm’s OR performance, experts and private firms provide to the market their skills, competences and consultancy services on ORM.

These tracking tools are designed to record in real time the reputation performance of a firm.


Some of these tools are highly specialised on restricted digital contents with strong impact potentials on firm’s profitability

(i.e. tweets, TripAdvisor's reviews, etc.).


For a more comprehensive list of:

•ORM specialist around the globe;


•ORM tools;


Top Five platforms for monitoring Brand Reputation

Source: The Importance of Online Reputation Management for Businesses, Clutch (2018)


Most importantly, ORM-oriented businesses are those who culturally embraced the strategic relevance of ORM and Public Image Perception.

Entrepreneurs and organisations should commit to ORM through the exploitation of a new competitive paradigm that leverages simply on what people says and how they recognise the value proposed by the firm.


Novel Tech opportunities for Businesses

Cloud ComputingClick to read  

Cloud Computing solutions allow you to exploit very important hardware and software resources from remote.

These services are provided by specialised companies that – depending on their offer – might allocate or manage the resources on behalf of the client.


Data AnalyticsClick to read  

A formal definition of Data Analytics describes it as a way to decode digital data highlighting highly meaningful information so to establish “predictive knowledge models” rather than descriptive ones.

In Business Management, Data Analytics is an essential strategic tool at the disposal of executives and directors.

From another perspective, Data Analytics stands as a testimony of an “an opportunity driven mindset”.

As such, all that it is required to embrace a Data Analytics framework is a balanced mixture of creative and calculating thinking. 

Data Analytic is a field that gives great contributions to 2 business functions that commonly deal with large numbers and lots of information coming from the external environment: 



Exploiting Data Analytics in Business Settings:


1.Customer Experience and Brand Loyalty


Firms exploit big dataset that are gathered from Sales departments to: analyse the customers demand, intercept new trends and purchasing preferences, orientate the development of new products, boost technological innovation and design consistent communication strategies.


In other words, Data Analytics supports firms and executives to shape a profile snapshot of the modern customer base.

2. Advertising


From a broader perspective, Data Analytics helps organisations to understand the purchasing behaviour of customers (both potential and loyal) so to better canalise the communication and advertising efforts.


The ultimate objective is to match the right product to the right client while taking into great consideration her/his favourite purchase channel.

3. Risk Management


In this field, Data Analytics is mostly exploited to orientate investment decisions and to quantify some statistical models that cluster investment opportunities on the basis of the associated risks.

Banks and financial intermediates make use of these tools on a daily basis as highly effective risk-mitigation means.

4. Value Chain Management


The Value Chain transcription in a digital language allows for greater and more sophisticated analyses of the existing relations between one function and another.

These networks of knowledge flowing among different task-teams contribute to the emergence of an organisational collective awareness and empowers the perception that each staff has upon roles and responsibilities of the others.


The Inception of an Internet Start-up

Turning your idea into a profitable business At inception, every firm emerged from a single idea Click to read  

At inception, every firm emerged from a single idea that, once turned in motion, translated into a sustainable enterprise.

Business Ideas come from the recognition of the opportunity to meet a marked need that is currently satisfied only partially (or not at all).

Everyday reality provides great inspirations for potential Business Idea: the difficult part comes when trying to identify the ones that are viable entrepreneurially.


The development of a Business Idea can be reconducted to two phases:


1. The Structuring

In other words, it means giving order to thoughts; highlighting which elements are particularly significant and deserve greater focus from a conceptual perspective. 


2. The Development

Once the theoretical pillars are settled, aspiring entrepreneurs move to consider the operational dimension taking note of what  might be reconducted to an enabling factor of the rising firm.

The StructuringClick to read  

It implies an in-depth analysis of:

Addressed needs and Demand side
Existing competitors (saturation degree of the market)
Customers’ profile
Value and Supply Chain structure
Market maturity and further margins of exploitation
External stakeholders with high impact and influence
Potential support networks
Business model
The DevelopmentClick to read  

High priority is given to:


Potential source of capitals

  - Business and Financial Planning

Distribution and supply channels
4 Ps Strategy

  - Product (or Service) – design and testing

  - Place

  - Promotion

  - Placement

Value Proposition and Projected Revenue Streams
Business PlanningClick to read  

The Business Plan (BP) is the formal document that provides a structured snapshot of the business. The content of a BP is normally articulated in few specific sections covering all main business dimensions:

Brief presentation of the business idea, the entrepreneurs and its core staff
Brief presentation of the product/service
Marketing Analysis (which market segment we are going to occupy)
Long-term development perspective
Environmental impact

Finance and expected profitability

Financial Planning Click to read  

Finance disclosure is so important that it requires a separate document on its own, the Financial Plan (FP).

The FP concerns a synthetic but very comprehensive evaluation of the financial and economic capacity of a firm.

A robust FP refers to three documents representing also the three primary financial statements:


1.Balance Sheet – Assets vs Liabilities
2.Income Statement – Revenues vs Expenses
3.Cash Flow Statement – Incoming vs Outgoing cash
Stakeholders Engagement strategiesClick to read  

Before taking any concrete action, aspiring entrepreneurs should ask themselves:


1.Who are the most strategic stakeholders for my business?
2.What might be their interest and how do I meet their expectations?
3.What kind of impact can my business have on them? Is it direct or indirect?
4.Do they have a testimonial? Is there someone who stands for their interests? 
5.How can I trigger their feedbacks?
6.What are the indirect benefits from their involvement?
7.How do I nurture their interest and what can I do to keep it alive?
8.Is there a right time to engage them?
Stakeholders Engagement MatrixClick to read  


On the basis of their impact and influence, Stakeholders are distributed in a very efficient matrix that summarize for each one of them their potential meaningfulness from a strategic perspective.


High Impact / Low Influence: Passive Passengers

Those who do not participate in ordinary business administration and do not take an active part in its strategies but still highly impacted by the on-going activities of the organisation; such as: communities, banks, local Policy Makers, shareholders, etc.


High Impact / High Influence: Key Players

Those who are highly resonant for a firm’s profitability and competitiveness; such as: buyers and suppliers, clients, competitors, research centres, etc.


Low Impact / Low Influence: Distant Cousins

The cluster with the lowest priority – they might represent a target as long as the firm is concerns to foster an “openness” agenda but they do not stand a strategic priority anyway (i.e. Primary and Secondary Schools)


Low Impact / High Influence: Mavens

Mavens represents a very interesting category to deal with: you cannot have as much impact on them as they have on you. Trade associations, opinion groups and labour unions are all highly influential within the organisations and they should be engaged as significant social partners

Networking and Funding OpportunitiesClick to read  

From the beginning of the last decade, Start-up realities became a worldwide booming phenomenon.

Unlike “traditional” forms of enterprises, because of their high risk coefficient (lack of financial, cash-flow and credit history) it is very rare for a Start-up to access credit through the traditional credit line (i.e. the banking systems).



Start-up: What relations between finance and its lifecycles?Click to read  

Start-up financing relies on dedicated socio-economic actors:


•Super angels
•Venture capitalists.


On the basis of the amount of resources they are able to guarantee, each one of the considered category intervene in a specific Start-up’s lifecycle.


The 5 stages of a Start-Up are commonly recognised as:



1.Solution Fit: Start-Up inception and business idea development
2.MVP (Minimum Viable Product): early design, development and testing phase of the product (service) + market segmentation and positioning strategy.
3.Market fit: first customer base and Demand responsiveness
4.Scale: exponential growth in brand awareness and market shares
5.Maturity: after five years from the foundation (marking the legal duration of a Start-up, the growth path can be pursued thanks two means only:


  a) Acquisition, usually from big and established companies

  b) Listing on stock exchange through an IPO (Initial Public   Offering)



Super Angels, Angels and Venture Capitalists:


Super Angels cannot be properly considered as investors: their contribution is not motivated by personal profit expectations but mainly by the genuine desire to see succeed their close ones.




Solely motivated by profit logic, Business Angels and Venture Capitalists are both investors that expect a personal gain from the investment: their differentiation is motivated by the capital amount at their disposal (much higher for the second ones).

Elevator Pitch – Definition and PurposeClick to read  

The first contact between an Investor and a Startupper starts from a very brief narrative of the business idea presented by the latter.


Such description is formally known as an “Elevator Pitch”: a catchy and intriguing presentation of the business idea aimed to conquer and enchant the interest of the investor.


Elevator Pitches are known for the characteristic of being extremely short and concise: the might last from a minimum of 30 sec. up to a maximum of 2 min.


The typical formula of an Elevator Pitch consists of:


1.A brief introduction of yourself
2.The unsatisfied need(s) underlying the business idea
3.Advantages and exploitable opportunities
4.Snapshot of the market status (is there any competitor already? What is our differentiation strategy? Etc.)
5.Current implementation stage and additional resources needed
6.Conclusions and formal financial requests

Because of the amount of information that one should be able to provide in such a short timespan, being able to develop an effective Elevator Pitch is generally considered as a very sophisticated competence on its own.


From there, if the investor(s) is (are) on board, the two parts start the negotiation of their agreement defining and finalising the conditions of the financing.


What generally happens is that the Angel or Venture Capitalist provides economic resources in exchange for shares on profits, partial ownership of a business unit (or more) and/or a mixture of both alternatives.


Entrepreneurship, Digital Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, ICT, Digital Start-Up, Digital Business Environment


• Understand the essentials of Digital Entrepreneurship
• Acquire the basics of Digital Business knowledge
• Recognize new IT solutions for Business Management
• Find out more about a digital Start-Up


Throughout the development of this Module, IDP has put great emphasis on the assumptions of Digital Entrepreneurship: both on its conceptual and operative models.
After a general introduction to the definitions of Digital Entrepreneurship from EU sources, in the following Didact Unit the learning content provides great insights on what it takes to be a digitally-oriented problem solver and what is ORM (online reputation management) for business competitiveness – two theoretical models that stand as essential basics of entrepreneurial competitiveness in digital environments.
Later on, in the third Didactic Unit, the learner approaches the opportunities lead by the two main and most common IT solutions applied to Business Management: Cloud Computing and Data Analytics. For both, IDP provided some concrete evidences of their potential application and following benefits in Entrepreneurial Settings.
Great contribution comes from the last Didactic Unit which showcases and mainstreams the fundamentals of a Start-Up, in particular: the transition from an idea to a profitable Business, the structuring and development of a Business Idea, the formal representation of a Business Idea (Elevator Pitch, Business and Financial Planning), networking and stakeholders engagement strategies, funding opportunities and Start-Up lifecycle.
Overall speaking, the Module consists of a very robust, easy and intuitive introduction to Entrepreneurship in Digital Business Environments – specifically designed for consultation and learning by early beginners.


DE: EU Commission definition:

DE: OECD definition:

Digital Entrepreneurship – a literature review:

Digital Transformation –  definition and drivers (OECD):




The Importance of Online Reputation Management for Businesses:

ORM Tools:

Stakeholders Engagement Matrix:

Start-Up lifecycle:

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site and its contents reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.