One of the reasons I love startups is that they are completely unpredictable. Just when you think you have the pattern figured out, here comes an example that blows your theory out of the water.
I'm behind on my updates to partners and investors! We just finished an intense six-month sprint and I haven't had much time to process everything we've done over the period of time. I'm starting to gain perspective on this now.
I am excited to write a quick update on our progress at InsightStudios. We are on to something very big, and it's working! Here's the latest news and update on our progress.
Every now and then, I come across an article that says something better than I could have said it myself.
I think all innovation leaders would benefit from reading this article and thinking more deeply about how they staff their teams.
I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on what we've accomplished in 2016. As we wrap up the year, I find myself incredibly excited for what 2017 will bring. Our plan for InsightStudios is coming into focus, and it's a beautiful thing. We are changing the enterprise innovation market and the startup ecosystem at the same time. It's incredible when you stop and think about it.
We've run enough Bootcamps that a few patterns have emerged among different companies as they attempt to create disruptive innovations with the enterprise.
As our customers know, we aren't consultants. We are entrepreneurs.
We've been selling and delivering Startup Bootcamps and Accelerators to large enterprises for a while now. One of the key questions is our sales process is:
Is this genuine innovation or innovation theater?
One of the common questions we get from teams who have completed the Startup Bootcamp is this:
How do we keep the momentum going?
Large, established businesses are being disrupted at different rates of change. Insurance and financial services are being disrupted by autonomous vehicles, Internet of things and blockchain. These disruptions are existential to their core businesses. In contrast, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG's) are being disrupted to a lesser degree, in relative terms.
Does your business need more growth? You're not alone. Who doesn't want more growth?
While organic growth is necessary, sometimes it's not enough. When your core business is maturing, or is being disrupted by changing market conditions, business leaders need to look outside their current business model for new sources of growth.
Congratulations on your decision to participate in our Three-Day Innovation Bootcamp. Every great journey starts with a single step. You've just taken an important step in changing how to think and act in your efforts to find a new engine of growth for your company.
This is a great description from Hal Gregersen on how he and Clay Christensen determine if a company is innovative or not.
Their methodology quantifies how innovative a firm is based on public market feedback. In my opinion, this is the best way to measure how innovative a company is today.
What is innovation anyway?
These days, almost every CEO talks about innovation. What's your strategy? "We are innovators," they say. But what do they really mean? What are they really trying to achieve?
I recently attended the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in San Francisco on May 18 & 19. The conference was worthwhile for me as I met a number of serious innovators, particularly in the audience and during the networking events.
For those of you who couldn't make it, I thought it might be useful to summarize some of the themes I heard over and over again during the two day event.
Here's a great post by Jason Calacanis on angel syndicates.
Venture capitalists with big funds will become obsolete as this unfolds. They will become more of a bridge from early-stage to exit or IPO, like mezzanine funds have worked in the past.
In the 90’s we experienced dot com one. You may recall the flood of Silicon Valley startups hitting the IPO market in the U.S. Some companies failed, like Pets.com. Others, like Amazon, have survived and are now thriving.
A few months ago, I was working for Moves the Needle, helping build their lean startup training business in the Midwest. After completing a Three-Day Bootcamp with an enterprise customer, I found myself in their dining room wearing a sports coat and trying hard not to look uncomfortable.
Everything in startups follows a power law function. The reality for most early-stage portfolios, returns are not linear.
"People are uncomfortable talking about inequality, so they either ignore it or rationalize it away. It is psychologically difficult for investors to admit that their best investment is worth more than the rest of their portfolio companies combined. So they ignore or hide that fact, and it becomes a secret." - Peter Thiel, class notes from CS183.
In one of our startups, Acquisition Science, our biggest customer accounts for 90% of total revenue. This is normal especially when you are an early stage company trying to find and validate product-market fit. This doesn't make me sleep well at night, but it's often the reality when building a startup. The 80/20 rule, or 90/10 rule in this case, exists naturally in all kinds of systems.
We think the power law function applies to ideas as well. This is something that is difficult for traditional startups to get their minds around.
Let's say you have a killer idea and you've found inspiration to start and startup. You just quit your job and are willing to risk it all to change the world. But what if you find out there isn't a viable market for your idea? What does it take for you to realize and accept this?
In two previous posts, I outlined several cultural barriers to innovation. The first post covers fear of failure and expected value bias. These cultural barriers are alone sufficient to stifle innovation. In the second post, I describe the business case bias and execution bias which both prevent new, innovative ideas from taking root in the enterprise.
In this third post, I’m going to complete the analysis of cultural barriers by covering alignment bias, retirement bias and strategic fit bias.
Helen Fisher - Explorer vs Builder and how it relates to this chart.
I like to do new things. It's my greatest strength and my greatest weakness.
Steve Blank talks about this in the context of his entrepreneurial career. In his assessment, he believes he is a "creative CEO." It took him eight startups to realize this. Being a creative CEO means you are good at inventing new ways of solving problems. This is a great asset. But here's the rub: creative CEO's suck at getting the company to scale.