Entrepreneurial Innovation

March 2, 2009

Wow. I haven’t posted since 2008!!! I will not make excuses, I love blogging, and I am excited to get back into the groove. So much has happened over the past 2 months like the inauguration of President Obama, Sully the Pilot’s heroics, and hitting a 10 year low in the stock market. Over this period I’ve had some epiphanies, one which I would like to present today… that being, innovation is incremental.

Innovation is Incremental – Since August I’ve been working with a team of engineering students to develop a mobile application for a Fortune 500 company. We’ve had our ups and our downs. Recently we had an internal discussion regarding our goal; the question was if we needed to create an innovative interface or an innovative application? The application we began developing was clearly an innovative interface; all the content existed, the basic idea and concept is widely available via other applications, all we were doing was presenting it in a “cooler” manner. I hated this application, and voiced my opposition on the grounds of lack of innovation. Before revealing the idea to the sponsor company, we had an internal review revealing our application to a group of PhD’s. During the review the innovative interface application was bashed by the PhDs also due to lack of innovation. We had a list of 8 other applications we created, 3 of them which I considered innovative. The presented application was dumped. Our new task was to choose 1 of these 8 remaining ideas using innovative application as the main criteria. This is when I realized innovation is incremental.

People used mail before electronic mail (email), listened to Walkmans before iPods, and instant messaged before twittering. These are incremental innovations. While selecting a new mobile application to develop I was unaware of the incremental nature of innovation. I campaigned for the most innovative of the 8 applications, but my team pushed back saying the idea is a new paradigm, which is bad. New paradigms change behaviors, which is a risky endeavor (especially for a conservative Fortune 500 company). I became aware the most innovative application may be ahead of its time, and too far a jump from the current market. Eventually we settled on an application using current content, presenting it not only in a “cool” manner, but also in a different manner by mixing medias to create an interactive experience unlike any other. The mobile application we are moving forward with is an innovative interface and an innovative application, but without creating a new paradigm. The application marries two behaviors together in a manner never done before to create an incremental innovation with great potential. Taking the innovation is incremental approach facilitates us in delivering a great mobile application.

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From EmTech08: Desh Deshpande

September 25, 2008

Desh Deshpande, serial entrepreneur and Chairman of the Board at A123 Systems, just left the EmTech stage. Desh had great entrepreneurial insights, but the one that sticks out refers to the current economy. Desh believes over the past ten years the top students from best US universities were graduating and going to financial firms; with the current condition and unknown future of the US financial systems, Desh believes the top graduates will stop taking high paying Wall St. positions and will become the next generation of entrepreneurs powered by technological innovation.

Desh was also asked, “What comes first, the company or the rights to the Intellectual Property?” The ‘ol “Chicken or the egg” question. It depends. If the intellectual property (IP) is for the long-term and projected to have a long lifecycle, then licensing the IP comes first (without the IP there is no company). If the IP is in a rapidly innovative arena, then the company comes first, because the IP may be antiquated by the time it gets licensed. In an innovative arena the company must hire innovation savvy employees and not rely on intellectual property; if the company relies on the IP then it may survive for the short term, but will struggle with growth.