We’re all obsessed with the idea of innovation and what the next big product, service or trend will be in the technology industry.
Few people know that the word ‘innovation’ derives from the latin term ‘innovare’, meaning ‘to renew or change’. It was never meant to infer something altogether new or different, but an evolutionary step forward in the ideas or objects that already exist.
Mark Earls, a best-selling author and consultant on human behavior, discussed at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam why more startups should be iterating upon existing ideas, rather than trying to create something out of the blue.
“Who did the original version of song x doesn’t really matter unless you’re a geek and moving in circles around that style of music,” he said. “Which are your favorite cover versions of that song is a whole other deal. So the performer, if we’re talking in music terms, rather than the composer, seems to me a place we need to move to more in innovation.”
Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is a notable example of such behavior. “He was innovative in the sense that he made s**t happen, as opposed to having the ideas. The idea, which regardless of who you talk to, or which legal team you talk to – will say that it wasn’t exactly his idea.”
Earls took some time to speak with TNW’s Paul Sawers about novelty, mavericks and why so many of us misunderstand innovation.
Image Credit: Julia Deboer/Flickr
Editor’s note: Danae Ringelmann is a co-founder of Indiegogo. Prior to that, she was a securities analyst at Cowen & Co. where she covered entertainment companies, including Pixar, Lionsgate, Disney and Electronic Arts. Follow her on Twitter @gogoDanae.
Happy Anniversary! One year ago, U.S. lawmakers joined together with overwhelming bipartisan support to pass the JOBS Act. It was an exciting moment in history — one that my co-founders and I at Indiegogo didn’t expect to see for many years, especially not within just five years of launching our perks-based crowdfunding platform in 2008.
While the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rule-setting period has taken a bit longer than originally hoped and thus equity crowdfunding is taking longer to introduce than the Act anticipated, we’re quite pleased that the SEC is taking the process seriously.
Striking a balance between the need for regulation and the danger of over-regulation is tricky. Too little regulation could lead to risky behavior — while too much regulation could stifle innovation and competition, and actually block the very economic activity equity crowdfunding is poised to create.
Crowdfunding rose into the mainstream long before the JOBS Act was passed. Since the launch of our perks-based approach to crowdfunding over five years ago – where entrepreneurs, artists and causes raise money in support of their dreams online by offering perks to funders — hundreds of other platforms have followed suit across the world.
When equity crowdfunding is introduced and allows funders actually to own a piece of the new businesses, pro-JOBS Act platforms like perk-based incumbents Indiegogo and Rockethub, or new equity-only players like Crowdfunder, will need to innovate by developing and testing new procedures that are safe, robust and customer-driven. As this is the first time equity crowdfunding will be possible in the Internet age, platforms need the opportunity to experiment, learn and build what customers actually need and want — rather than what regulators might think customers could want. Too much regulation could simply stifle the innovation required to make equity crowdfunding work.
Too much regulation could also reduce competition and lock out smaller equity crowdfunding platforms from launching, as burdensome regulation would make it expensive to get off the ground. Ironically, this would benefit well-resourced incumbents like us. But this is not what we would want.
For Indiegogo, we have a healthy and growing perks-based business and do not need equity crowdfunding to happen. That said we’d be disappointed if equity crowdfunding never has the chance to realize its innovation potential. The concept of equity crowdfunding is 100 percent in-line with our mission to make finance efficient and fair — removing gatekeepers from interfering with making dreams come true. We’ve innovated and developed an algorithm-driven platform in order to deliver a gatekeeper-free experience on our trusted perks platform. It would be disappointing — for example – if regulation somehow required us to put the gatekeeper back into the process, thus stifling our innovation and ability to make finance efficient and fair.
We’d also be disappointed if the regulation killed our competition, leaving us the sole player. As an equal opportunity platform, we’d defy our entire reason for being by hoping for a competition-free world.
Indiegogo pioneered crowdfunding as a way for people to fund what matters to them — whatever that might be. We don’t curate. We don’t judge. There are no gatekeepers on Indiegogo. We believe every idea (as long as it’s legal) deserves the right to connect with its audience and see if its audience is willing to fund it.
As a result of our inclusive approach, unique ideas — creative, cause and entrepreneurial — are coming to life through crowdfunding on Indiegogo as I write. They include the Breathometer that turns a smartphone into a breathalyzer, the athletic bag company Activyst that supports girls sports programs across the world, and the band Avasa & Matty, a husband-wife duo working on their next album. Even the world’s first baby was crowdfunded last year. (The campaign helped a family pay for in-vitro fertilization). These ideas are not alone. Every week, Indiegogo distributes millions of dollars in four currencies to campaigns in every country.
Given we aren’t in the business of curation, we want to empower as many people around the world as possible. Nothing proves this better than the fact that we not only allowed, but often recognized that we had another crowdfunding platform use Indiegogo to raise money to launch.
So if the rules were up to us, given our inclusive approach and equal-opportunity philosophy, we would opt for a more open environment where platforms could innovate and compete freely to prove themselves superior, even if that meant more competition for us.
At Indiegogo, we’re excited to see the SEC release the rules. However, even without equity crowdfunding, new businesses have continued to thrive on Indiegogo. In the last year since the JOBS Act passed, more than 15,000 entrepreneurial campaigns raised money on Indiegogo in the U.S. alone.
Businesses like the first package-free grocery store In.gredients raised $15,000 to open its doors. Due to the market validation from crowdfunding, now traditional financiers are calling the team to ask how they can help the business expand. Innovative products like the 1:Face Watch, raised more than $357,000 to bring their watch to market, while giving people the opportunity to support the cause of their choice. Due to the risk-mitigation benefits of crowdfunding, the team didn’t face the risk of overproduction or underproduction.
Shareconomy ventures like the mobile canning service for craft brewers The Can Van also benefitted by garnering publicity they never could have imagined through their campaign. Due to social media integration, crowdfunding helped this team turn supporters into grassroots marketers overnight.
These job-creating endeavors and their entrepreneurial neighbors on Indiegogo received money from more than 200,000 people across all 50 states who voted with their dollars to bring these ideas to life. This clearly demonstrates how crowdfunding provides a catalyst not just for funding, but for traction, awareness and market validation as well. I wonder what the numbers would be when equity is part of the picture — when the JOBS Act turns two. Exciting times are ahead. History in the making.
Originally posted here: Crowdfunding Industry Celebrates First Anniversary of JOBS Act Despite Delays
Finally, our secret is out. Today, Deborah Perry Piscione’s much anticipated new book Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Can Learn From The Innovation Capital Of The World is being published. As Piscione told me, the real secret of Silicon Valley lies in our absence of hierarchy.
In contrast with New York, she told me, Silicon Valley is obsessed with “ideas” rather than with “greed” or “power”. And this love of ideas, Piscione insists, is why it’s the west rather than the east coast that is really driving innovation in the United States. I’m guessing that not everyone – particularly those up and down the eastern seaboard – will agree with Piscione. So expect Secrets of Silicon Valley to spark a much-needed national conversation about how best to innovate in an economy in which too many executives still crave stability and fear change.
Continue reading here: Keen On… Exposed: The Real Secrets of Silicon Valley [TCTV]
Facebook has announced the addition of a new board member, UCSF chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, who will join Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreessen, Erskine Bowles, James Breyer, Donald Graham, Reed Hastings, Sheryl Sandberg, and Peter Thiel as the 9th member.
According to Facebook, Desmond-Hellmann currently “oversees all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy and operations” at UCSF. In addition, she is on the board of directors for Procter & Gamble, and serves as a trustee for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Desmond-Hellmann on her new role:
I’ve always been drawn to organizations that do ground-breaking work. Facebook has an ambitious mission and long-term vision of innovation that is transforming how people connect with one another. I’m proud to be part of a company that is serving such an important purpose in the world.
Image credit: AFP/Stringer/Getty Images
Private or public – either scenario for Dell will be interesting to watch.
One of the most difficult skills I’ve worked hard to master as an entrepreneur is the ability to see the world six months out. Even more difficult is finding that balance between pleasing shareholders and driving innovation forward, which is why I respect any moves management takes that are aimed at improving innovation.
However, I must admit that I nearly spit out my morning coffee when I overheard a rumor that — on the heels of the expectation of going private — Mr. Dell told his employees: “Welcome to the world’s biggest startup.”
After founding three startups, I can tell you with confidence that there is no way Dell has the culture or the ass-kicking visionary à la Steve Jobs that it needs to be even remotely considered a startup.
The real battle at Dell is not going to be with shareholders – it’s going to be a battle to reform culture.
The entire reason for existence of a startup company is innovation. Employees pull together to create something exciting and magical, while the companies themselves invest most of their time, energy and dollars on developing potentially disruptive products.
For startups, that means easily spending over 50 percent of revenue just on R&D. Even when they’re out of the startup stage, innovative companies continue to spend roughly 12 percent of their revenue on research and development. And what’s Dell’s track-record on investing in innovation?
According to its public filings, Dell consistently spent 1 to 2 percent of revenue on R&D — this at a time when Wall Street traditionally likes to see that 10 percent R&D investment. Will Dell suddenly start spending at the levels it needs to? It could, but I’d sooner expect to see a magic unicorn than something innovative from Dell.
In my mind, Dell has become a brand surrounding a hollow shell. Unfortunately for Dell, it’s become the PC equivalent of The Invisible Man. I mean this literally: The rise of cloud computing means companies are buying Salesforce and Workday, for example — and whatever servers those cloud providers happen to be running on. And when companies aren’t buying Macs for their employees, they care more about reliability and cost than they do about the nameplate that’s glued to the machine.
As a SaaS provider, my company spent $2 million buying CPU time and storage on Amazon Web Services last year. We don’t know the brand and we don’t know the type of computer because everything’s virtual and in the cloud. All we do know is how much we pay for the cores, memory and disk space on those machines. Maybe they’re Dell computers, maybe not. I neither know nor care — and that’s about as damning as it gets for a hardware maker.
Clearly, it’s a whole new game for Dell — one that requires a different mindset from its leader and a new (and so far unseen) willingness to create the unexpected. It also needs to introduce and establish a completely new culture among its employees. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I just don’t believe a company mired in inertia can transform itself, especially one as desperate as Dell.
Read the original post: The Real Battle At Dell