Innovation gets funded with billions of $ all across the world. Hundreds of thousands of startups get founded every year. Yet 90% of the inventions, patented ideas, startups and corporate innovation labs do not succeed. If our crops would have been treated like our brain crops, humans would have extinct by now.

SOMETHING WENT REALLY WRONG

After a keynote at the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, I discussed a burning question with one of the officers. I asked: “Why is so much money poured into more and more inventions and innovative ideas but absolutely nothing in helping to get them to markets?” The answer was prompt and very clear: “Commercial success is the job of the entrepreneur, not of a government”. While I understood the rational behind the thinking, I still found it odd to let 90% of invested money evaporate, just because a more or less philosophical process. The result is not only lost opportunities but also widening the chasm between rich and poor, putting the leadership position of a nation in jeopardy and risking to loose talents who may find other nations more appealing.

Innovation that can’t be brought to market is of no value for the respective society and should not be funded with tax money.

WHAT PROFESSIONAL INVESTORS DO

The top venture investors nurture their investment from Idea to IPO. It’s the only way to get a significant return on investment. Plus they educate, mentor and coach their portfolio companies to bring them to maximum performance. And the result is stunning. instead of 90 % failure rate it’s only 75%. In other words they doubled the success rate of startups they have invested in. Unfortunately that is the tiny fraction of startups that had the privilege to move to Silicon Valley and get investments from some of the top VCs. But in the end, our “Innovation Crops” deliver a miserable 10% yield, while we know we could get it up to 25%.

We need to change the innovation paradigm

WHAT IS THE VALUE OF INNOVATION

I guess we can agree that innovation is perceived a key driver for progress and growth. But is that true?  Is it the innovation or is it the ability to bring new and different products to market and attract a huge amount of people to support it, buy it or otherwise engage with it. A less innovative product that is produced in huge quantities and attract a large global market is most likely creating more jobs, more revenue, more profits and therefor more taxes for the local community than a product that is much more innovative but nobody knows about it therefor the company may not even survive. The true value of innovation is created at the time that product or service is hitting large markets and get a lot of business.

ONLY SUCCESSFUL INNOVATION MEANS JOBS AND TAXES

If we can agree that a value is only created when the companies grows, creates jobs and pay taxes, we should also agree that funding the urge of developing something is less important that funding the the need to bring it to market. Creative minds will build innovative products whether they get funded or not. But only if economic success is supported afterwards the innovation is gaining in value. And if the core driver for Innovation Funds is job creation and prosperity we may need to reconsider the funding strategy and put some money aside for every amount of money spent in the invention itself.

NEW INNOVATION PARADIGM FOCUSING ON COMMERCIAL RESULTS

A new innovation support program needs to focus on commercial success more than anything else. That includes providing non bureaucratic processes and rules to actually be able to make global trade even as a startup. It means lowering regulatory barriers to an absolute minimum. It also means providing business education to leverage latest techniques for an efficient and successful go-to-market plan – something no university will ever be able to offer. And means that young startups are supported with international networks and concepts to leverage existing trade networks. And of course that some of the funds available for the invention itself is also made available to kick start the commercial success.

 

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Too less traction, no marketing budget, slow growth… the biggest challenges for every entrepreneur. Now, all together we can change that. And here is how we are going to do that.

AS AN ENTREPRENEUR

As founder of an innovative business you cannot get enough traction. Even for well connected people it remains to be a challenge – our planet is simply too big. Getting help from friends, existing customers, supporter…. is a big deal. Every comment counts. This is why we developed a very simple tool called BUZZ. You simply provide a catchy image, a good text for your friends to post – obviously they can change the text any way they want – and simply share it with their network. A good Buzz can easily add several thousands even some million incremental reach.

 

AS A SUPPORTER

In today’s digital world, most of us are well connected. “Having connection” is no longer a privilege but a standard. And now getting some news from innovative companies is something most of us enjoy getting. Connecting the dots: share what you find is interesting with your connections help your connections to be up to speed in terms of innovation and helps the innovative companies to get the word out faster.

With a tool called BUZZ, all you have to do is push a few buttons to share things that YOU think are interesting with your network via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Not every day but simply when it is interesting.

For supporter all it takes is to get to a URL like this: and start sharing. Soon we will provide buzz campaigns for the most innovative startups from around the world so we all can help them get some additional traction.

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competing successful with enterprises - Society3

Once in a while I meet entrepreneurs with amazing ideas but they don’t know how they could compete with even the largest enterprises.

I started my first company from scratch with $20,000 and needed to compete with 3 other businesses, each $200 Million to $1 Billion in revenue – 10 years later we were market leader on a global scale ($5B in revenue)

My second company was a little more different

I started my third company right after the bubble burst and competed with two other competitors who had $70 Million and $68 Million cash in the bank from pre bubble rounds – I started with $500,000 – 5 years later we were close to acquire one but let go because the due diligence made clear there is nothing we could gain – being the market leader already.

Here is how we compete:

1) In each case we developed a disruptive business model. We completely went of the beaten path and redefined sales channels or we made payments in very different ways, provided transparency were was none, service integration in the pricing and so forth. It was the market that forced the competition to follow us and compete with us – or loose it.

2) I never competed based on technology, product functions or any of those short term win or loose features. I learned: “The best product never wins”. However we did have great technology because we had great engineers – yet it was not the winning factor in the end.

3) Business is done between people. I knew I can win more customers when I have a nicer team – and I always had a stellar team. :)

In retrospect: all big winners won with a superior business model and amazing teams.

Obviously I don’t know anything about your business and therefor it is hard to make more specific suggestions – but look at your business model and your team before you even spend a millisecond on your product when it comes to competing for market share.

A good read to make sure you can handle such a problem is the question to find great founders

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This post was inspired by a question on Quora “What are the most common mistakes first time entrepreneurs make?”. If seen these mistakes over and over again:

  1. Trying to be the nice guy – instead selfishly execute your vision because nobody will if not you.
  2. Being fearful, avoiding risks – instead stand up and be bold
  3. Looking what other startups do, investors want, media pushes – instead explore your very own path
  4. Doing everything yourself because it is “faster” – instead share and delegate
  5. Trusting you need money to do what you want to do – instead find other ways to make it happen
  6. Hiding your vision because of you are insecure – instead spread it wide and loud
  7. Believing you know what your customers want because you want it – instead let go and listen
  8. Wasting time by create a plan B – instead make sure you have a single robust plan
  9. Ask your friends what they think – instead ask your target audience
  10. Enjoying being your own boss – instead be the servant of your market
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