Experience Never Gets Old.. Just Unfashionable

Over the past few weeks I have been collaborating on a book about the History of the Australian Software Industry. While it covers history it aims to present useful guidanc for those on the Entrepreneurial Journey we were on in the 60’s,  70s and 80s

In reflecting on our journey I revisited a movie I watched a couple of years ago – The Intern. Because I often refer it to young people I mentor as a reason to consider having an “Old Bloke” (a bloke is male or female) in the business.

“70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).”

Experience may not get old, but it quite often gets outdated and becomes unfashionable…

I also did some research on two hyper  successful startups and listened ti interviews with Brian Chesky Co Founder of AirBnB and Mark Zuckerberg.

Unlike the vast majority of startups they focussed on the things we were doing way back then including.

  1. Doing things that don’t scale – getting in front of customers and prospects often to get feedback and buy in – Knocking on doors and honing sales skills
  2. Getting the product out the door and making sure key customers are involved in the design, development and testing
  3. Not relying on Grants, VCs etc for funding but making real sales to real customers to provide seed funding to get started

Of course there is much more to the story – and I am not pitching for any more jobs – but my advice is find yourself an ageing Intern and you might find you get a surprise at the value just like Jules Ostin did in the movie.

And my advice for anyone 60 plus who has experience and skills that are relevant today DONT RETIRE!!  100% of people that do Die …it cant be good for you!

 

 

 

Hug an Entrepreneur

e1f187932fd9d901833353948e85cd94With the world changing so rapidly with deployment of new technologies, leveraging of more information and the ongoing digital disruption of many industries we need entrepreneurs and innovators more than ever.For the financial and social good of every community we need people prepared to have a go and put it all on the line not because they want to make money …. but generally because they know the good the money can do.

We cant rely on Government to make the bold decisions needed at best we need them to support those having a go and do their best not to get in the way …. As I often say if you rely on Government for nothing you will never be disappointed

But its never easy being an entrepreneur and it can be lonely as well as physically and financially challenging as generally it involves taking big risks…..  As the old saying goes an Entrepreneur is prepared to live like most others wouldn’t so that he can live like most others never could.

A few months ago I almost gave up on my dream… But thanks to Reece Formosa and his invite to an event where I heard an amazing collection of young entrepreneurs talk about their struggle and their vision I picked myself up again…

I was reminded that you don’t become an entrepreneur you either are one or you aren’t

Sadly most people don’t get us…. They don’t get that it’s not about money… if it was we would take their advice… Get a job… Accept a handout etc…
It is all about what the money can do!!
I know entrepreneurs do it for the passion of what we believe… Unlike most people we get our why … if you want to be passionate about anything first you need to find Find Your Why   …. Most of us want to make the world a much better place and we don’t want to wait on others e.g. Governments to do it.
I attended an event recently where Brad Feld spoke about Entrepreneurism – Feld  is an American entrepreneur, author, blogger, and venture capitalist at Foundry Group in Boulder, Colorado. Feld began financing technology startups in the early 1990s, first as an angel and later an institutional investor. One of many things he said struck an accord with me –
When Entrepreneurs see a need for something they go ahead and do it they dont wait for others. …  That explained why I started Innovation in the City
It’s that passion that gets you through the days when you decide to walk to the city and save the bus fare for a coffee….. Because you have put everything into your passion and suddenly you realise $5 has become a small fortune…coz that’s all you have.

If everyone esp Governments valued entrepreneurs the world would be a better place soon.
The great thing about not giving up is the amazing people and opportunities that come to you because of who you are – not what you have…or in many cases pretend to be with fancy titles etc

There will be a party soon and all of you who keep me going will be there…. Meantime if you come across a struggling entrepreneur give them a big hug… We are fuelled by passion and emotion and so we probably need a hug more than most people.
That’s it for now… 

Anyone want to catch up for a drink or give me a hug… Let me know…

Innovation on Your Mainstreeet

coworking-statisticsWhile there is much talk and focus on Innovation, relatively few people in the broader community know what it is and how they can help engage and foster Innovation for the benefit of all in our community.  Through our Innovation In The City group we have opened the opportunity for people to Learn and become involved.

Now ….What better way to get more involvement that taking Innovation to a shop front in a busy street….and in doing so bring new people, vitality and opportunities for growth to businesses . and where better to do it than in a Neighbourhood that needs it.

We aim to use a 400 sq metres  vacant space on Beach Road at Christies on the Beach (soon to be formerly known as Christies Beach) as a flexible and creative way to achieve all of these aims and more.

Innovation on the Miantreets  is the brainchild of Tony Williamson a long term business owner in the Hutt St Precinct and past member of Adelaide City Council and Rick Carter an Innovation, Media and Marketing specialist who lecturers at Carnegie Mellon University in Enterprise Innovation and will bring CMU students, projects and expertise to the Street.

Showcase | Exhibition | Event | Flexible Space

We want to showcase Innovation via an exhibition space fronting Beach Rd – everything from drones to 3D printing and Sustainable Energy to the Internet of Things.

Each month we expect to have sponsored hands-on exhibitions focussing on different aspects of Innovation (eg Electric Vehicles, Solar and Battery technology, Smart Cities etc)

With a focus on flexibility the space will be easily reconfigured for Pop Up events (e.g. Product Launches, Charity Fund Raisers, Art Exhibition, Fringe Shows etc)

Education | Training | Presentation | Flexible Space

We will also provide education and training to business, schools and residents using a proven Innovation Methodology “Selling your Way to Innovation” developed in association with Harold Sharples – The man who taught Tim Cook (Apple CEO) how to Innovate the way we Innovate – to help people leverage what they have into what they need for the future, using Technology and Information as an enabler, turning Hutt St into a vibrant, diverse Innovation Precinct.

Co-Working | Meeting | Flexible Space

A Co-Working space will add further diversity to the street and provide opportunities via scholarships for young people with big ideas to have a base amongst seasoned and experienced business professionals and proven innovators.

We aim to attract a wide variety of people – not just young startups – but many experienced professionals who see that if you work for yourself you don’t need to work alone. These people may also need space for Events, Exhibitions and Training. 

Co-working has grown worldwide at roughly 36% over the past twelve months and as such we expect demand to be high especially given some unique points of difference we will offer.

We expect to be able to pay commercial rents within 6 months of start up and lease the building (upstairs and downstairs) for 5 years or more based purely on revenue from Co – Working  – given predictions that 40% of the workforce will be freelancers, independent contractors and solopreneurs by 2020

Summary

We see this space as being attractive to business of all types and government agencies  (Federal, State and Local) who want to be seen to sponsor and support Innovation.  We will recommend to these sponsors that they have some their staff work in the CoWorking space for a month or two and also provide scholarships for young people who need such a space but cant yet afford it, so they begin to experience  Innovation not just talk about it.

Our key aim is to deliver growth in the form of jobs in SA and support the Initiatives of Federal and State Governments and in particular to help the Onkaparinga City Council deliver some of their goals  as a vital city and a base for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability.

Innovation on Beach will become a model for similar centres in Australia and the re purposing of vacant retail / warehouse premises in high profile locations. in doing so we will support businesses and landlords in such commercial precincts.

 

Selling your way to Innovatiom

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A major barrier to Innovation in existing business has been concern about loss of focus in the core business. 

As such it it vital to ensure you are doing all you can to increase sales using digital media while implementing the changes needed to prosper in future.

Now and into the future its increasingly becoming a case or Innovate or Die for most business……and we are hearing more about products and businesses being innovative but have they ensured their existing business is as good as it can be and consolidated.

Cloud, mobile, social, robotics, driverless etc  — these are fundamental trends that are reshaping industry. What will be the next major disruption? Today’s successful companies need to embrace the full spectrum of innovation — from incremental to breakthrough to radical — in both their R&D and business model strategies. Continue reading Selling your way to Innovatiom

Innovation starts in every Mainstreet

innovation signage

My home town Adelaide is desperate to become a renowned Innovation City and I am very keen to help that happen ….as we need it if the city is to prosper!!

Adelaide has a unique opportunity to position itself as an Innovation Hub by capitalising on the existing Eco System that has been established and adding a few unique and missing elements.

For Innovation to flourish we need to develop a high level of support from the broader community to embrace the culture of Innovation. We need everyone to support and foster the drive and ambition of those who have the focus and opportunity engage in Entrepreneurial and Innovation projects in existing business and brand new start ups.

To do this its important to take innovation to the community and establish places where they can experience it in a manner appropriate to their situation.

While many people see Innovation as coming our of new ideas in Universities, Incubators, Think tanks etc and backed by Venture Capitalists, grants etc ….  to get Innovation that results in High Growth Ready Businesses we also need to grow it within existing business ….Micro, Small, Medium and large!!

Continue reading Innovation starts in every Mainstreet

Innovating How we Innovate – The Why

innovation  avanzi.orgRecently I read an article in Adelaide’s daily online “Newspaper” InDaily about Innovating South Australia’s Future which on one hand enthused me as a proponent of the urgent need for Innovation here and on the other disappointed me because we are still missing the mark in many ways.

With South Australia’s economy under pressure due to past reliance on manufacturing. mining etc and as such climbing jobless its great that much is being done.

But clearly more needs to done to develop an environment that foster, support and invest in emerging start-ups that WILL make a significant economic contribution.

The InDaily story is based upon a submission by Regional Development Australia Adelaide (RDAA) and Adelaide City Council to the Australian Technologies Competition.

“The submission details the expertise and resources that exist in South Australia and the extensive collaboration that is occurring on a daily basis in Adelaide between entrepreneurial individuals, companies, councils, universities and the different levels of government.” – In Daily – Vanguard

“Greater Adelaide has a very rich ecosystem of support for new ventures,” the submission says.

While its great that clearly Adelaide has the will to really DO something And YES  – getting the right ecosystem is the key – it seems the activity is in many ways isolated from the Community at Large

But I have two major issues –

As someone who has a real focus on Innovation via my business enovAsia and the Not For profit Group we founded Innovation In The City I did not know the full extent of the EcoSystem …. as such how would the average person have any idea of it as being so comprehensive.

  • 109 programs specifically supporting entrepreneurs and new ventures,
  • 11 incubators and accelerator programs,
  • 9 entrepreneurship education award programs,
  • 17 industry driven education programs for entrepreneurs, and
  • 14 co-working spaces.

If we are to foster and fully support Innovation we must reach the broader community to engage their support not keep “preaching to the choir” with more and more programs. And Innovation needs to be encouraged in existing businesses not just focussed on the startUp community.  There is a need for more integration between new and established business for sustainable success.

The second point that became evident is that we are not focussing on two things I think are fundamental to making SA not only a renowned Innovation Hub but one that makes a major contribution to the future of the State of South Australia. To do this we need to Identify StartUps/Innovations which:

  • Further develop what we already have here in terms of expertise, industries, environment etc (e.g. Food and Wine, Education, Medical research) not just support anyone with a good idea for the nest big thing.  But we also must support people working with the trends that will define the future of SA,

and

  • Become High Growth Businesses that employ people/bring revenue into SA for the long term.
    • High-growth enterprises, as measured by employment (or by turnover), are enterprises with average annualised growth in employees (or in turnover) greater than 20% a year, over a three-year period, and with ten or more employees at the beginning of the observation period – OECD 

When I shared my thoughts with a colleague in the UK, Harold Sharples, who is a world renowned specialist Innovation Consultant, he agreed with my thinking and referred me to a very recently released report The Global StartUp Ecosystem Ranking 2015.  Harold has taught Innovation to many people and companies around the world including IBM and Coke and including current Apple CEO Tim Cook when he was at IBM.

From this report and subsequent discussions it became evident that while Adelaide is on the right path there may well be a better one to achieve the economic benefits we are aiming for here.

Clearly if we keep building the same ol’ ecosystem,  we’ll just keep getting the same ol’ results …

In Harold’s words,  “it’ll still take 2,000 startups to get one High Growth business”.  This is based upon solid research done over many years.

The key is “innovating how we innovate” … making genuine innovations – in the ecosystem as well as in businesses and technology – and without it,  we won’t get that 10x change which is what we need.

In the report on Global EcoSystems “there’s some great research stuff at the beginning,”  but it ends up with the usual reheated stuff about better ecosystems to match funding with ideas  … Not better better ecosystems that innovate how we innovate.   In other words,  they still envisage a 1 in 2,000 future … at the moment,  their ‘big idea’ is to figure out ways to fail faster and lose less (and promote cities to do it in – and in Oz, only Sydney gets onto their radar!.

The report highlights that we are now at the Tipping Point in the transition from the Industrial Era to the Information Era .

More than ever before,  INNOVATION will be the key to success – in most endeavours – and in most fields.

I agree totally with Harold’s words below and in my next posts – Innovating How we Innovate – The What   and Innovating How we Innovate – The How  I will outline the approach we plan to take in Adelaide starting now.

“So far,  the ‘new era’ they refer to represents the posing of a new need/problem-statement —>  As of today,  we’re still in the old era … but we’ve come upon a new set of challenges that can’t be solved with the same level of thinking we’ve used to discover them —> We won’t actually be in the new era until we have a new solution AND APPLY IT.

Innovating how we innovate is what the solution will look like. 

Actually ACHIEVING that is how we ENTER the new era.   (The dawn of the agricultural / Industrial revolution didn’t occur until we’d FOUND and applied the solutions … there’s no cigar for discovering a new set of problems)

The principles embedded in my solution hypotheses for both IBM and for Business (re)invention generally can be applied to almost any field of endeavour:

From Ice Skating to Dance;  from Business building to Cuisine;  from design to ecosystems.” – Harold Sharples

Clearly there needs to be a better way so What Next?