Effects of Socioeconomic Background on Entrepreneurial Funding

Last registered on July 19, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Effects of Socioeconomic Background on Entrepreneurial Funding
Initial registration date
February 12, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 13, 2023, 11:33 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
July 19, 2023, 6:25 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Whose problems do investors see as worth solving? I experimentally study how investors evaluate a startup idea based on the socioeconomic background of the founder, the target customer, and the (in)congruence between the two. I am also interested in how the socioeconomic background of investors themselves affect these evaluations. I aim to contribute to the research on diversity and inequality in entrepreneurial funding in which socioeconomic backgrounds have been relatively understudied. I also provide implications on whose problems are deemed worthy of resources, and how to support the missing entrepreneurs from underprivileged backgrounds.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Oh, Jean Joohyun. 2023. "Effects of Socioeconomic Background on Entrepreneurial Funding." AEA RCT Registry. July 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.10361-1.2
Experimental Details


Current and aspiring startup investors will be recruited to provide their views on an early-stage startup. The startup profile will vary signals of the social class origin of the founder and the socioeconomic status of the target customer base.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Interest in receiving more information (Yes or No)
- Investment decision (% of funds allocated to startup)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
For the investment decision, participants will be asked to decide how much of a fixed amount of funds (a potential cash prize) they would like to invest in the startup as opposed to receive in cash.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
- Valuation (USD)
- Expected profitability
- Expected risk level
- Trust in founder ability
- Perceived founder-venture fit
- Perceived founder’s likelihood of raising funding from other investors
- Evaluation of founder's knowledge and expertise, work ethic, commitment, etc.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study employs a 2x2 between-subjects design. The startup profile will vary two fundamental aspects of a startup. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of four treatment arms that vary along these two dimensions.

(1) Who is solving the business problem (i.e. the founder's social class origin)?
(2) Whose problem is the company solving (i.e. the target customer's socioeconomic status)?
Experimental Design Details
The study employs a 2x2 between-subjects design that shows each participant a filler startup profile and then a randomly assigned treatment startup profile.

The filler startup profile will not vary across treatments. Participants' investment decision to this startup will serve as a pre-treatment covariate to control for their baseline likelihood to invest in a startup.

The treatment startup profile will include a short product description, target customer, and founder story, as well as basic information on industry, founded date, headquarter location, number of employees, funding stage, and traction. The target customer and founder story will vary across treatment conditions, while all other information will remain constant.

- The social class origin of the founder will be signaled through the founder's story behind the startup, which includes his father's occupation of varying prestige levels, such as "fund manager" and "bank teller".
- The socioeconomic status of the customer will be signaled in the description of target customer segment, being either "high-net-worth individuals" or "the average citizen".

Thus, the four treatment arms will be generated as 2 (higher/lower founder social class origins) x 2 (higher/lower target customer socioeconomic status).

The filler and treatment stimuli are attached as HTML documents.
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done by the Qualtrics survey platform.
Randomization Unit
Unit of randomization is at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Treatment will not be clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
528 current and aspiring startup investors. Individuals will be recruited from a few participant pools until the desired sample size is fulfilled. Possible participant pools include: 1. MBA and EMBA students and alumni at a top business school in the Northeast United States. 2. Members of Venture Capital student and alumni clubs at the same business school and at the university at large. 3. Current angel and VC investors whose contact information is available in the Pitchbook database.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately 132 individuals for each of the four treatment arms (exact numbers may vary as randomization is done in real time at the time of the survey)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With alpha=0.05, a power=0.90, cohen's d is estimated at 0.40
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Columbia University IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials