Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2017

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. Mark Ferguson

First Reader

Dr. Nancy Buchan

Second Reader

Dr. Nancy Buchan


One would think that having a great product or service and a few compelling advertisements would be enough for an entrepreneur to successfully launch a company. However, this assumption no longer holds true in today’s competitive marketplace. In fact, the vast majority of startups fail. Research suggests that this failure is often derived from the rigidity that comes with the traditional startup model. To avoid this fate, startups have the option to adopt a different startup model—the recently developed lean startup method.

This thesis will follow the startup “Beacon”—a disaster relief application that seeks to efficiently distribute relief resources to disaster survivors and mitigate waste—throughout its development process over the past two years. The Beacon team realized that to be able to launch their mobile application quickly and inexpensively, they would need to address their organizational structure and growth strategy. For this reason, the group evaluated and compared the traditional startup model and the lean startup model to see which would be the best approach for Beacon’s development. Although the lean startup model is most often applied to for-profit businesses, it was found to have many applications in the nonprofit arena as well. After assessing all options, the Beacon team decided to establish a nonprofit and apply the lean startup model. This model will allow the group to develop a disaster relief application that will cater directly to the needs of natural disaster survivors, volunteers, and relief organizations while saving time and resources. Finally, this paper will explain how the lean method can be more intentionally applied in Beacon’s next steps to take full advantage of the savings and opportunities offered by lean principles.

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© 2017, Samantha Kear and Jessica Thiergartner

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