Challenges and success factors in pursuing disruptive innovations: A Finnish high-tech start-up case study

This article addresses the main issues faced by Finnish start-ups  which pursue disruptive innovations and increases our understanding how the issues can be resolved through the experiences of a case company.

Abstract: Despite increasing acknowledgment of disruptive innovations for their potential to generate high growth, their high rate of failure necessitates research on what kind of challenges start-ups pursuing disruptive innovations face and how they overcome them. This study contributes to increase understanding in this field by studying the case of a Finnish high-tech start-up’s successful new-market disruption in business-to-business context. Identifying disruptive innovations that have market potential, obtaining adequate funding at initial stages of the business, marketing of the disruptive innovation, and the length and riskiness of the process are main challenges in Finland. Success factors derived from the case study and insights of an expert practitioner of the field provide a roadmap for start-ups to overcome these challenges. Findings from this business-to-business study challenge the disruptive innovation theory which has been created in the context of business-to-consumer innovations.

Keywords: Disruptive innovation, new-market disruption, business-to-business, high-tech, start-up, Finland


Liisa Majamäki, corresponding author, liisa.ocarroll (at)

Murat Akpinar, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Business, Rajakatu 35, 40200, Jyväskylä, Finland, murat.akpinar (at)

See video interview of the authors here.

Click here for full text article



  1. The article gives us a interesting and unexpected outcome regarding funding of start-ups.

  2. This address well some main questions bothering my mind about disruptive innovation. questions about the pains and gains involved in disruptive innovation as compared to sustaining/ incremental innovation.
    After studying about the research paper i got my mind rejuvenated about pursuant of disruptive innovation since the gains outweighs the pains on the long run.

    Thanks for this great work Liisa and Murat. it is right material to lay my hand on at this time.

  3. I am somewhat in the situation, where I am looking around the world and I am getting a broader and wider perspective of the business life. I see that in Finland, start-ups are struggling unusually much compared to my home country, basically in every segment of the business life. It is really hard to give birth to new innovations in a market like this, but it is even harder to stay alive. The article gave a great inside look what the problem might be, I just wish there was soon a solution to these struggles. The whole country and many people would benefit from attracting more investors and capital to the country and successful high-tech companies.

  4. It was a surprising fact to know that Finnish economy is innovation-driven one, but it`s really interesting that even despite of this fact it`s difficult for the country to attract investors. All information is really useful. But it`s a pity that the industry in which this high-tech company is operating is in secret

  5. Very inspiring article and complementary with my university courses.

  6. Very inspiring article, and complementary of my university courses.

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