South-Western - Management  
An Entrepreneur Steps to the Plate
Topic Entrepreneurism - Strategy
Key Words Distinctive competence, strategy
News Story

Baseball statistics are big business. A half dozen companies compete to provide data to Major League Baseball and other major sports leagues. Tendu employs 17 former college and pro ballplayers who spend hours watching games off satellite feeds and inputting into computers everything that happens. The software then trolls around the data for patterns that can yield an edge.

New York Mets general manager bought the service, saying it gives them a chance to validate what an advance scout is telling them, and learn trends they can't pick up. The company serves only two teams so far, but is negotiating with others and with and ESPN.

The founder has dreams that one day this software will be useful to the ordinary fan. He has dreams for a wireless application that would allow fans to predict pitches and other strategic decisions through their cell phones and PDAs. He also wants to branch out to other sports once the software is perfected. There is still some skepticism about using technology to make predictions (The computer can't tell you how a player feels on a given day), but the company is optimistic. Now they just have to convince teams to pay for the data.


To be successful in a field with entrenched competition, it is especially crucial that a start-up firm have a distinctive competence. Define distinctive competence, and explain what Tendu's is.


Using the following list of common attributes of successful ideas, explain whether Tendu's product displays each attribute and if so, how.

  1. The idea should have a relative advantage over existing products or services.
  2. It should be compatible with existing attitudes and beliefs.
  3. The buyer should be able to easily understand how it should be used.
  4. The results and benefits of the product should be easily communicated to the buyer.
  5. Users should be able to try the product without incurring a large risk.
  6. It should be readily available for purchase.
  7. The buyer must believe that the product satisfies his or her needs by giving some immediate benefit.
Taken from Strategic Entrepreneurial Growth, by Donald Kuratko and Harold Welsch, Copyright 2001.

Source "An Entrepreneur Steps to the Plate," Newsweek Sept. 29, 2003, p. 34.
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