Testing an investment readiness program for start-ups

Last registered on December 10, 2018


Trial Information

General Information

Testing an investment readiness program for start-ups
Initial registration date
October 02, 2015

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
October 02, 2015, 5:23 PM EDT

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

Last updated
December 10, 2018, 7:48 PM EST

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


Primary Investigator

World Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
World Bank
PI Affiliation
University of Lausanne

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The team wants to test the impact of an Investment Readiness Program (IRP) that is geared to facilitate access to equity finance for innovative start-ups and SMEs. Lack of access to equity finance for innovative start-ups and SMEs has been recognized as a major problem in the region, and there is a belief that many firms have good ideas but lack the necessary know-how and preparedness to be ready to pitch their ideas to external investors. The investment readiness program is aimed at getting firms ready for a pitch event, through a combination of training, mentoring, master classes, pitch practice, and other assistance.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Cusolito, Ana, Ernest Dautovic and David McKenzie. 2018. "Testing an investment readiness program for start-ups." AEA RCT Registry. December 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.895-8.0
Former Citation
Cusolito, Ana, Ernest Dautovic and David McKenzie. 2018. "Testing an investment readiness program for start-ups." AEA RCT Registry. December 10. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/895/history/38769
Experimental Details


A sample of 346 firms were randomly divided into two groups: a treatment group of 174 which receives the investment readiness program, and a control group of 172 which does not. The investment readiness program consists of a combination of training, mentoring, master classes, networking, and pitch preparation. Both groups will then pitch their businesses in a venture forum, and will be scored by judges to measure their investment readiness. They will then be tracked over time to see the extent to which this translates into longer-term business outcomes.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The key short-term outcomes are:
- Investment Readiness: a score of how investible the firm is, according to scores by judges in a pitch competition. The pre-analysis plan provides details on how this will be measured.

Survey measures: (discussed in pre-analysis plan)
- willinginess and interest in taking equity investment
- general investability
- meeting the specific needs of investors
- steps towards receiving external financing and external financing received

Longer-term outcomes are:
- Business survival
- Whether or not they have an external investor
- Business growth as measured by:
- Employment as measured through a survey
- Sales as measured through a survey
- online activity as measured by Alexa
- appearance in news articles as measured by Lexis/Nexis or Meltwater
- appearance in Angel List
- number of followers on LinkedIn, twitter and facebook
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The firms are randomized at the individual level into a treatment group and a control group
Experimental Design Details
Applications were screened to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements. Eligible applications were then scored on four criteria to measure their initial level of investment readiness: market attractiveness, product technology, traction, and team. The top 10 proposals overall in terms of score were then randomly assigned to 5 in treatment and 5 in control, in order to ensure that some of the very top proposals were in both groups. Then the remainder of firms were divided into groups (strata) based on country (Serbia, Croatia, or the rest) and whether or not they already have a private investor. Within these six groups firms were ranked into groups of four on the basis of their investment readiness score. Within these quartets two firms were randomly chosen for treatment and two for control.
This was done for an initial batch of 335 firms, allocating 167 to treatment and 168 to control. A batch of 12 additional firms whose details had taken longer to check were then received. These were stratified into three quartets based on score, with firms then randomly assigned to treatment and control within quartet. Finally one last firm was received, and a single random draw used to assign this to treatment. This resulted in 348 firms, with 174 treatment and 174 control. Two duplicates were dropped resulting in a final sample of 346.
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual firm
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
346 firms
Sample size: planned number of observations
346 firms
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
174 treated, 172 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Initial investment readiness has a mean of approximately 3 and standard deviation of 0.75 (on a score out of 5). The minimal detectable effect is a 0.18 increase in investment readiness, assuming an autocorrelation of 0.6. This equates to 0.24 standard deviations: sampsi 3 3.18, n1(172) n2(174) sd1(0.75) pre(1) post(1) r01(0.6)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Pre-analysis plan (May 16, 2016 update)

MD5: ec015793d691824df4d45b3aa8f3eb53

SHA1: e9634989724cf31c087635aa1e5f733a09de21dc

Uploaded At: May 16, 2016

Pre-analysis plan

MD5: 6e2cb612f2b02ce1316fbe5eb8c6a668

SHA1: 60468a543f8bccf3adeebd659f2f8bee2d277515

Uploaded At: November 06, 2015

Pre-analysis plan (November 10, 2015 update)

MD5: 606c4a4d99f8330188398008ae0dc596

SHA1: d08f9db88f51d90134efbc8709b19348f375a715

Uploaded At: November 10, 2015


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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
November 13, 2015, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
March 31, 2018, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
346 firms
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Sample size depends varying on outcome:
Investment readiness scores from judges measured for 211 firms
Media buzz measured for all 346 firms
Basic information collected on 92% of firms in follow-up survey 1, and 95% in follow-up survey 2
At least short survey collected on 79% of firms in follow-up survey 1, and 85% in follow-up survey 2
See appendix of paper for rates by treatment status
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
174 firms assigned to treatment, 172 to control As noted above, sample size varies by outcome - see paper appendix.
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Many innovative firms have good ideas, but do not have these ideas fine-tuned to the stage
where they can attract outside funding. We conduct a five-country randomized experiment that
tests the impact of an investment readiness program. Firms then pitched their ideas to
independent judges. The program resulted in a 0.3 standard deviation increase in the investment
readiness score. Two years later, treated firms attain significantly more media attention, but,
while positive, the impacts on firm outcomes are not statistically significant, with firms 5
percentage points (-4.7 p.p., +14.7p.p.) more likely to have made a deal with an outside investor.
Cusolito, Ana, Ernest Dautovic and David McKenzie (2018) "Can Government Intervention Make Firms More Investment-Ready? A Randomized Experiment in the Western Balkans", World Bank Policy Research Working Paper no 8541

Reports & Other Materials