Getting innovation to global markets

Bringing innovation successfully to market is key for prosperity

Nations all over the world pour millions and billions into innovation support – yet only a fraction of those inventions are ever seen their markets. Innovation officers consider bringing those innovations to market the sole responsibility of the entrepreneurs who created them. The job is done when an innovation was funded. An estimated 2% of the innovations funded by the European Commission become eventually successful solutions – the rest of the Millions in funding evaporate.

Instead of taking some of the grants to ensure that the major part of the investments in innovation even has a chance to survive – more money is thrown into ideas that all too often already from the beginning have no chance to get anywhere. This frustrating waste of money time and resources drove us to rethink the core values of innovation.

The initial value of innovation is zero

Any invention or innovative product or service has no value just because it exists. Assume, somebody develops a battery in the size of a matchbox that can host 1 Gigawatt of energy for 500 hours. As long as nobody has access to it, there is absolutely no economic value for our society. That power box does not create revenues, it does not create jobs, it does not give business to trade organizations and no added energy to its actual consumer.

Only if that invention is brought to market, it begins to create an economic value to the economy / society it is made available to. And the larger the geographic range is, the higher the value. Social networks have been in existence in very rudimentary forms before Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. But only once the innovation of digital social connections became a user friendly appearance and was brought to large numbers of the population it became of real value. And in almost all cases the value for the company is created when the value for the consumer is created.

Innovation Value

We see a clear correlation between consumer value and innovation value. If we stay with social media media for a moment, we see that correlation in several instances pretty clear. The US social media company LinkedIn started in 2003 and shortly thereafter German competitor Xing. Xing was even able to make it to become the first social media company in the world to do an IPO. However LinkedIn was more appealing to users and was strategically marketed on a global scale. Xing vanished away and LinkedIn dominates that part of the social media tools. The IPO for Xing did not help, the money they gained did not get them to the top. And exactly the same happens in the early phase of a business – when they are still startups.

Switzerland for instance is known for its innovative people and companies. It’s the country with one of the most patents per capita. Yet – in the past 20 or 30 years not a single tech company made it to the top. The innovation was purchased on an very early stage, investors and entrepreneurs chose the quick money over the economic value potential it could have for the country and sold the business, one after the other to companies who mostly siting other countries. The Innovation Value for country of Switzerland is nearly zero because the value creation, job creation, revenue and tax creation is happening in other countries.

Innovation Value and Valuation

Companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Intel, WordPress, and lately Bitcoin dominate the technology related behavior, data usage and providing across the entire planet. All those companies have been considered vastly overvalued and part of a crazy hype. Just a few years later we most realize that the value seem to be OK and even if not, those companies dominate the rest of the world. Recently however the US dominance is broken and another country is becoming the most critical enemy: China. Europeans, Africans, Latin Americans just turn their heads from west to east and now complain about overhyped companies like Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi, Geely and so forth. All those companies shine with their high valuation. And the high valuation in turn attracts investors, talents, consumers and general attention. Only the combination of highly innovative products PLUS well marketed solutions create an economic value for a society by creating large amounts of jobs, revenue and taxes.  And the valuation from far sighted investors is the best indication for the economic potential in the future.

Innovation Value for a Economy / County

A country which does understand that network of value, innovation, valuation, and marketability of their startups and entrepreneurs has a great chance to benefit from the innovation they support, sponsor and fund. For others it is a risk of a large money and brain drain and even worst – like in Switzerland, large sums of money are poured into innovation and those who actually seem to have a great chance to grow are purchased long before the value could provide a return to the donor.

 

First global innovation gathering

In June 2018, for the first time, entrepreneurs, investors, enabler and government officers from around the world meet at the World Innovations Forum. The forum helps to get a better picture about the status quo of global innovation and entrepreneurship. This conference of the visionaries will show how far even emerging countries are and what we can do to help bring innovation  better to market.

Innovation of no value

Around the globe, billions are invested in innovation. However as long as no support is given to bring those innovations to market, the large majority of great ideas evaporate. The World Innovations Forum will address that and help make a change. More innovation need to find their markets and contribute to global prosperity.

Technology at Risk

Artificial Intelligence, Crypto Currency, Robotics, Autonomous Vehicles, Technical Implants, DNA Manipulation and more are considered risky technologies and at the same time great advances of the human mind. We don’t want to have neigh sayer pound on the technology and obsessed engineers defend it. Instead we will discuss many of those topics with those who have a common sense and explore the future evolution of those technologies.

Getting startups into global markets

It’s always too late and always too early when young entrepreneurs grow international. Today’s networked world, digital and online practices and new technologies open up all new opportunities. How can a startup from Nigeria go global 2 years after founding and be in 20 countries a year later? Yes it’s crazy, not health, too fast, irresponsible and way too risky. And yes, it’s the core spirit of entrepreneurship. With the Society3 leadership team having brought 4 companies international within their first four years and today’s technology we will help startups go broad faster than ever before imaginable. Of course with all the risks and challenges and with all the opportunities.

A global entrepreneurial mindset

After all, it is the unbelievable spirit in Silicon Valley that is responsible for driving all the other advantages of the area. Silicon Valley is known to be the epicenter of innovation, the best place to get funded and the most compelling place to work. But if you do a deep dive analysis you find an interesting chain: The amazing mindset of all the like minded people makes working more like fun – not work. With that it makes it easy to learn from each other, probably 10 times faster than anywhere else. If you combine the work energy and the super fast learning, top notch companies are only the result. That attracts investors who in turn learned to nurture that spirit and develop it even further. NOW – since we cannot send millions of startups to San Francisco / Silicon Valley, we need to get creative if we want to increase the success rate of all entrepreneurs.

Creating that spirit in other places has been proven to be possible. Now we want to create it across the world. This is one of the key projects we are kicking off at the World Innovations Forum in June this year.

TICKETS

Unfortunately we have only a very limited number of tickets for this year, about 10 for each of the 25 countries, so please register early to make sure you can join.

Ticket sales is now open.

SOCIETY3’S FIRST GLOBAL ONLINE MEETING

After creating one of the most successful accelerator programs and working with entrepreneurs for the past 4 years, we decided to take our vision global. Today we are represented in 25 countries. And since we cannot bring millions of entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley – we need to do something radical different. We, the founders of Society3, are used to disrupt and make a difference. Today we begin to make a difference in how entrepreneurs in all countries get supported, treated more equally and have a chance to become a big company as if they would have started in Silicon Valley.

We need to rethink our abilities to permanently collaborate on a global scale. Creating a simple copy of Silicon valley is not going to work and definitely not the very spirit of Silicon Valley. Disrupting the main disrupter is. The digital world already holds all the necessary assets. We don’t won’t to ‘improve’ Silicon Valley but stand on it’s shoulders taking the amazing culture that was created there to an all new level.


REGISTER CON CALL EAST

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AGENDA

* THE NEW EXCHANGE
Creating a global exchange for innovative minds.
How can entrepreneurs, investors and enabler benefit.
What’s our experience after 20 years Silicon valley.
How can every entrepreneur around the world leverage
global connections.

* GLOBAL ACCELERATOR
Running the first global online accelerator so every
entrepreneur can join, no matter where they are.
Main topics are: Bold visions, disruptive business models,
zero budget go-to-market strategy, traction and growth
hacking, fundraising,

* INTERNATIONAL TRADE FOR EVERY STARTUP
Building the first global trading & transaction system for
young entrepreneurs using blockchain technology.
Getting business rolling into almost any country faster then
ever before imaginable – at nearly no cost.

There is no substitute for a great in person meeting, like there is no substitute for an amazing live concert. Yet we hear MP3 music every day. This online conference is about online engagements, creating a mindset for online collaboration and an experiment to create a permanently connect online ecosystem – very much like Silicon Valley.

HOW TO CREATE A SILICON VALLEY CULTURE?

Every group of autonomous people can create a culture. We are on the verge of creating an all new entrepreneurs culture and significantly increase startup success rates no matter where they are located.
We do not want to change anybody or their culture. But we want to connect those, globally, who already have a good idea about an open and sharing ecosystem where we all can learn from each other and build businesses who can grow fast, create new jobs and provide value.

On April 5 we want to talk about how we can do that and how the culture in Silicon Valley was created.
All you need is an internet connection and a way to listen and ideally talk online.

Please register here:


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REGISTER CON CALL WEST

Best for attendees from Europe, Africa and Americas

There is no charge to attend

When you start your business, you don’t need anything other than your brain and working through the following 5 steps. If there is anything unclear to you, use Google. Finding your own way is part of this exercise. You will do that for the next 10+ years – finding your own way. If you are not 100% if entrepreneurship is even the right thing for you, check out the 10 most relevant founders traits – and also here find your own way to get there or chose something else.

1) IDEA STAGE
You have an idea and you are excited about it. Often times young entrepreneurs would like to get a validation from some experienced entrepreneurs or investors. Validating your idea is a great first move. But instead of talking to other entrepreneurs or investors – talk to potential customers. Do that before you even invest time and resources in building prototypes. However, if you feel better to make sure your idea works, it is OK to invest in a prototype.CHECK LIST
1) Did you speak to at least 10 potential customers to verify that your idea is solving a real problem and providing a much-needed solution.
2) Use a presentation or document to share your idea

 

2) ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM, FIND CO-FOUNDERS
Before you do anything other than writing down your idea, attract at least another co-founder. Our world is too complex to do everything alone. And more importantly, our world is moving too fast for a single human to start a successful business and grow it fast enough before others enter their space. None of the top investors will ever invest in a solopreneur, no matter how cool the idea is.If you are a business person, find the technical co-founder. If you are an engineer find a business co-founder. If you can’t attract another entrepreneur, consider your idea is either not good enough or your skills and personality is not well enough developed to attract others which will always be necessary as you need to attract talents, customers, business partners, investors and more. Only two engineers or two business people is no better than a solopreneur – it’s all about the diverse skill set on the business leader bench. Be committed to give your co-founders at least 20% of your company and stay away from being the dominating “main” owner.CHECK LIST
1) Do you already have a diverse founders team with business as well as subject matter expertise?
2) Did you make well documented arrangement between founders regarding the equity ownership distribution.

 

3) DEVELOP YOUR SOLUTION CONCEPT
You and your co-founder will now want to develop the whole concept of your company – together. This includes defining the problem you are solving or the need you are fulfilling. It determines who your target audience will be and what you are bringing to your market. Describe what’s unique about you and your solution and make some intense research who else is offering similar solutions. Research other potential companies in the US, all over Europe and Asia. Define what the SINGLE most important function of your business is. If you have a list of important features – select one. If that one is too weak, strengthen that feature instead of growing a list. If the unique aspect of your solution is that you offer a complete suite of features while other businesses deliver only parts of it, re-think your idea as there is almost always some missing aspect of your concept.
CHECK LIST
1) Do you have a written down business concept – not necessarily a fully blown business plan?
2) Have you selected your unique single most important functionality that you want to be known for one day?

 

4) MARKET VALIDATION
Now put together a short presentation deck with no more than 10 slides. Create a list of 50 individual people who are potential customers (people not companies). Then try to make an appointment to present your idea. When you meet them – we highly suggest to NOT argue with them – just listen super carefully. Make notes what they don’t like, did not understand, did not need, and what they liked. IMPORTANT: Ask what of their current problems you would solve. Ask if they would buy your solution and what they’d be willing to pay. Make sure you end up speaking with at least 23 relevant people who are interested in your solution. If you don’t have the 23, ask more people. Document each and every interview. You may notice that you do not need a product to do any of the above.CHECK LIST
1) Did you speak to at least 23 people who have been willing to explore your solution for their business or individual use and it at least ort of solves a problem they have?
2) Is the feedback motivating enough to begin investing serious time and resources to build a first prototype? If not go back to step 3.

 

5) BUSINESS MODEL
With all the feedback you received, you may now develop a concept how you will produce, market, sell, deliver and service the product. All overall: How are you going to make money and compete with others. Then ask yourself if there is any way to make the engagement between you and your customer especially attractive – more attractive than your competitors. Determine the cost of building your solution and the price you like to sell it for. Consider a margin for distribution channels if you are addressing a large market (B2B or B2C).CHECK LIST
1) Do you have a written down business model that includes a possible pricing, a concept how to bring it to market and how you service customers?
2) Do you have an idea how you will compete against similar solutions or educate customers about your solution that has no competition?

At this stage it makes sense to look for a successful entrepreneur as a mentor, an office in a co-working space and others to connect with. Too early to discuss with investors. Forget seeking for an investor to build the business. Find some capital and seek for investors when you are ready to grow the business from a few early customers to a real company.

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

You have only 24 hours a day minus 10 to sleep, eat and recharge makes it 14 hours.
I assume you are tackling a large market and want to conquer the world. I also assume you want to have about 30% market share of whatever billion dollar market with roughly 20 Million potential customers.

This post was inspired by a question on Quora: As CEO and non-tech co-founder, what should I be doing before we launch while my tech. co-founder is coding?

The 14 hour day of a startup CEO

1) List building 1 hour
Start spending an hour a day to extend the list of potential customers who should test, use and buy your product once it is ready. Make the list a simple spreadsheet with first name, last name, company (if B2B), linkedIn profile, twitter name, location, interest (B2C) or title (B2B). Try to get 50 names a day (so work fast).

2) Reaching out to users 1 hour
Try to reach some of those people right away and ask them what they think about the solution you develop. Talk on the phone if possible or online otherwise, Do your very personal market research – but more importantly build connections.

3) Theoretic team building 1 hours
You will need a stellar team when going to market. Look for your best possible marketer, sales people, maybe operations, production…. Make a list, reach out get feedback more on what they think you may need and begin to be in the market. Go through groups, read news, find the top guys and make another list of those people so you can go hire them when the time is right and you don;t need to start looking when you have no more time.

4) Thought leadership building 1 hour
Craft blog posts and answer questions on Quora, write comments on other blogs and become known as a very smart person in your specific field. You may easily extend that to two hours if you have some room for it.

5) Content development 1 hour
You can do that in a few days but exhaust your creativity pretty quickly. Instead you may work a solid hour a day on content creation. Product description, video clips, website improvements, blog posts for the same, industry trends, social trends, product trends….. the sky is the limit – but you have only one hour a day.

6) Operations, processes, pricing
Think through the sales process from soup to nuts. From talking to new customers for the very first time, how they land at your business, what they need to do to buy something from you, how they pay, how you invoice, your pricing model, contracts, services, liabilities, terms of service, privacy, compliance….. an hour a day is only 7 hours a week or some 90 hours a quarter so if you are on top things you should be able to get it done.

7) Company evolution, 1 hour a day
It’s a bit limited but again, you have only so much time. So think through your product road map, bring it in alignment with your vision, weave in the feedback from the conversation with customers (see above), consider the evolution of your competition and think about how your market will evolve in general. Try to write a script book for your business scifi – what will your market, our society, your industry, the technology and your company look like in 10 years from now. Write it down, do a video clip. Solidify your vision.

8) Team building 1 hours
Spend time with your team, how they are doing, what they achieved how the product evolved and bring their work in alignment with your vision – every day. Make sure a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a indeed a MINIMUM Viable Product. Don’t allow yourself surprises “I thought you though that we thought we do this….” Know the progress. Have a chat at the water cooler too :)

9) Make yourself familiar with your market 1 hour
Read the news, be in online groups, understand who gets funded in your market, what they do, what new industry regulations may pop up, who gets quoted very often, meet the mover and shaker know exactly what is going on.

10) Prepping for alliance management – 1 hour
Create a list of potential alliance partners, No matter what you produce a new satellite, a mobile app, a new breed of avocados, new diapers or a new pizza shop – you never work in isolation so find out who are all the potential business alliances. Maybe service providers you can work with, interesting suppliers, industry organizations…. you get the point.

11) Finance & Investment – 1 hour daily
You will want to continuously work on your financials, model the future with everything you learned in the other 10 hours each day, “model and tune” it. Then start looking for investors. Make a list where you add at least one investor per day. The day you are starting to go fundraising you will appreciate that advice more than anything else – because it takes time.

12) Meet the industry 1 hour a day
Go to events, share your vision early on, be in the market talk to people. You may not do that every single day but at least twice a week. And as long as they don’t come to your office, you will need to allocate 2-3 hours for those events at least. And most likely you exceed your one hour budget per day very quickly.

13) Meditate, read a book – work out 1 hour a day
You know you will need to feed your mind by shutting completely down other than sleep – and one hour once a day is most likely just perfect.

14) Socialize one hour a day
Have breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner with somebody from your business world once a day or every other day. Just be there and listen and learn, get feedback – or help and provide insights :)

Well – now there is a ton of other things that people do: taking an hour to read emails, organizing their day, scheduling the doctor and getting ready for the weekend. Oh not to forget movies – unfortunately and as you see above – no time for any of that. Sorry.

As a tough CEO you will not allow your team more than 6 month from start to MVP. You will need to hurry to get all the above done by the time the product can hit the market.

Enjoy the ride :)

Forget it, passion is for pussycats. You need to be obsessed.

 

You heard all that many times. But what does it actually mean? What constitutes such a great founders team?

  1. Team means team. A founders team is not one founder with a few people joining him or her somehow but multiple founders with more or less equal equity share in the startup. Together thay sculptured and shaped the concept of the business. It takes teamwork to make a dream work.
  2. The best founders are obsessed, not just passionate about what they do. They make any humanly possible effort to make their idea come true. If they have to move to a different country, they will. If they have to sell everything they posses they will. If they have to live in a shed and have just barely enough to survive they will.

    Passion is for pussycats – great founders are obsessed

  3. Great founders are truly intelligent. Meaning they have the skill to solve a problem by simply thinking through most of its permutations even though neither they nor anybody else ever ever found a solution for a similar problem.
  4. Having assembled a team of very diverse skills and behavior. Having a generalist working with two specialists (CEO, CTO, CMO). A doer, a a visionary and an detailed subject matter expert are best.
  5. Bold thinking. Not just a hypothetical billion users or billion dollars but an intelligently constructed ways and a reasoning why and how to get there. Having a reasonable idea about the technology development, the societal trends and industrial movements over the next 10 years, The ability to draw the future like a picture.
  6. NO respect for anything. Breaking all rules except the law. They do what they think it takes to achieve their goal no matter what anybody in the world tells them to do.
  7. Complete independence of capital.  Great founders make things happen with nothing. To the contrary those who need somebody else’ money to start are definitely not great founders. The only money they need is to grow their company faster than organic growth.
  8. Top founders are people who can easily attract others: Attract co-founders, attract customers, attract talents, attract investors…
  9. At least one of the founders in the team is a marvelous communicator. Has the ability to get the message out in a simple way and crafts those messages, so that others can share it as well. Founders are not living in offices and labs but in the market.
  10. High sense of urgency. Great founders do things significantly faster that their competitors. They have no time for anything but run. From idea to prototype, less than 6 month. from prototype to production less than 6 month. From being in the market to first major market share wins, less than six month, from first market share wins to first international business less than 6 month…

 

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