Pop-up to Professional
AMD-2015-0152.R2 from AMD Volume 3, Issue 2
by Daphne Demetry
How does a hobby evolve into a business? This paper examines how entrepreneurs transition from freelance ventures - creating organizations “on the side” to test the entrepreneurial waters while maintaining full-time employment - to establishing formal businesses. I investigate this entrepreneurial emergence through a qualitative study of pop-up and underground restaurants, culinary start-ups where amateur and moonlighting professional cooks create temporary restaurants, typically as a transition towards opening a standard food business. As entrepreneurs shift from ad hoc activities to an established organization, they adopt new roles and identities that are expressed through “vocabularies of motives,” spoken words used to explain and justify activities in the present, future, or past. Through interviews, I discover that part-time cooks evoke a “labor of love” vocabulary, emphasizing the experimental and hobby-like nature of their ventures. When entrepreneurs transition to full-time work, however, often after being promoted by outsiders’ positive evaluations, they begin self-identifying as business owners through a new “professional” vocabulary. These findings demonstrate that the pathways and transitions to entrepreneurship and the associated role identity may be more accidental than intentional.