Framing entrepreneurial ideas for sustainability – A study of startups’ business pitches

Ulla Saari, Annabeth Aagaard, Leona Achtenhagen, Saku Mäkinen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientific


This paper investigates how entrepreneurs frame the sustainability of their ventures when pitching their business ideas to investors. With this study, we aim to contribute to the stream of entrepreneurship literature focusing on sustainable entrepreneurship development among purpose-driven startups. Through the application of framing theory, we explore and categorize sustainability-oriented frames applied in business pitches. We apply a qualitative methodology and an abductive approach in collecting and analyzing data from startup pitches presented at the startup event Slush held in Finland in 2017 and 2018. The findings indicate how frame blending is gradually transitioning to frame shifting as startup entrepreneurs are increasingly referring to sustainability aspects as additional elements in the conventional profit-driven business pitching model. Thus, the Need-Approach-Benefit-Competition model is converted into more sustainable business contexts with emerging sustainability frames related to
sustainability themes on three different levels, the micro, meso and macro levels with cognitive, strategic, technological and institutional frames.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 29th Innovation and Product Development Management Conference
Subtitle of host publication17-19 July, 2022, Hamburg, Germany
PublisherEuropean Institute for Advanced Studies in Management, EIASM
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeB3 Article in conference proceedings
EventInnovation and Product Development Management Conference: Innovation in the era of climate change - Technical University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 17 Jul 202219 Jul 2022

Publication series

NameInnovation and Product Development Management Conference
ISSN (Electronic)1998-7374


ConferenceInnovation and Product Development Management Conference
Abbreviated titleIPDMC 2022
Internet address


  • sustainable entrepreneurship
  • pitching
  • framing theory
  • startup
  • sustainability


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