Innovate Mississippi

Point Innovation Magazine Winter 2013

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INNOVATION WORKS From Idea to Business Success Richard A. Sun F rom wars to politics, faulty thinking has sunk many Without enough of this kind of "currency," the market will simply campaigns. The entrepreneurial community has a name put a lower value on the idea than the person who gave birth to for the most common "intelligence" mistake that hamstrings it. It may not seem fair, but that is where the "stable equilibrium" many technology innovators – the mouse trap fallacy. The moniker sets the worth. Technology innovators who do not accept this is derived from a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Build idea, and thus do not value their idea contribution realistically, a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." will reap an even smaller share of profit. Thus, many technology entrepreneurs blithely believe that their technology or innovation alone is The best technology does not always win sufficient to build a competitive company. Superior marketing and execution with Without the They forget, however, that while Emerson was adequate technology often trump superior ability to execute, technology with average marketing and an insightful thinker and writer, he was not ideas have noted for his business success or entrepreneurial execution. IBM did not have the best little value. acumen. mainframes. Microsoft did not have the Too many good ideas and ventures fail or fall best operating system. short of their potential because their founders do not recognize the importance of business-building skills. Solve a problem – don't push technology Innovation may get you in the game, but it does not mean you Finding the superior solution for an existing problem facing will win. New technology is necessary, but never sufficient. businesses or individuals is far more likely to be profitable and What experienced investors and entrepreneurs know is this successful than fixating on a specific technology and then looking simple (although less poetic) truth: "If you want to succeed with for the problem it can solve. your better mousetrap, assemble a dedicated team with a passion Most companies don't succeed until they have gone through for – and a long history of – killing mice in large numbers." several business plans or models; and often, they abandon the launch technology in the process. Technology innovators are usually It is the execution, not the idea too committed to their technology to make that switch in time. Without the ability to execute, ideas have little value. While Although ubiquitous today, the LASER languished from when patents, unique insights and knowledge are valuable, the bulk of it first operated in a lab in 1960 until its first commercial operation a company's worth is in its organization, human capital and brand in barcode scanners in 1974. For 14 years, it was a solution looking – all of which result from creating value from the innovation. for a problem. www.innovate.ms 17

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