Buyer-supplier relationships in startups: An analysis of factors that drive startup attractiveness to suppliers

Juliano Afonso Tessaro

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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This dissertation examines startups in buyer-supplier relationships. The literature review shows that startups may find it challenging to establish buyer-supplier relationships with large companies due to their newness, smallness, limited resources, and lack of track record. However, this study also highlights that startups are not only suppliers but also buyers.

When startups are buyers, they compete against incumbent buyers for suppliers’ resources. Through a world café, interviews, and experiments, this study identifies key factors that explain how startups can attract and maintain relationships with suppliers and achieve preferred customer status. These factors include strategic compatibility, innovation potential, startup network, credible growth opportunity, profitability, memorable experiences, and purchaser salespersonship.

The research also compares the relative importance of customer attractiveness factors for startups and incumbent buyers, finding that strategic compatibility, operative excellence, and innovation are more important for startups. Additionally, the dissertation offers a practice-oriented finding on how startups can organize their purchasing activities to improve operative excellence and become more attractive customers. Five types of purchasing organization are identified, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Overall, this dissertation provides valuable insights into startup-supplier relationships and the strategies that startups could utilize to work effectively with suppliers to mobilize their resources and achieve preferred customer status as buyers.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Schiele, Holger, Supervisor
  • Harms, Rainer, Co-Supervisor
Award date9 Oct 2023
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-5785-6
Electronic ISBNs978-90-365-5686-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2023


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