Three Methods to Ongoing Innovation

Innovation is an ongoing process that your company should be taking a strong stake in, and as an entrepreneur it should always be on your mind. Why? Because as long as you’re working towards goals so are others, process improvements happen all the time, and new ways of doing things will always keep on evolving. If you’re not evolving, you’re in a way killing your business.

Look at it this way, you may have a technology that at the moment can clean water in a manner that is thus far cheaper and more energy efficient than your competitors, you have a decisive competitive advantage because of this technology, however, you know that there are also engineers out there working on similar products, ones that may be cheaper and more energy efficient than yours? So what do you do, you innovate. You look for different processes, different materials, ways to improve the process that will help you keep that advantage.

Today, we look at that relationship, the one between innovation and strategy. In all there are really three ways in which you can approach innovation within your company, and each is designed to work a bit differently. Read the methods, and think about which one of these works best for your enterprise and how you can most effectively apply in.

1. Strategy Defines Innovation – The company collects CI, looks at the market and then defines a strategy, i.e. in 5 years time we want to be at point X, we want to have Y{abb65e2b6815f549a727af2ea9f3a377a727ddc064972a198a74f88a6b766686} of the market and be in Z countries. How do we get there. In this scenario innovation effects are pursued to deliver and ensure value to the strategy, and the goal.

2. Innovation Defines Strategy – The company through the most excellent ideas of its board, entreprenerus and others has developed a number of concepts. These concepts are mapped, and a strategic evaluation is conducted based on CI, market factors, etc.. the selected innovation then fuels the strategy of the enterprise.

3. Innovation and Strategy Inform One Another – This is an ongoing dialogue between the two, Innovation and Strategy both affect each other equally, and the C levels manage the process throughout.

In terms of startups and smaller companies, you will find that option two tends to work the best. Why? Because chances are that you’ve embarked on a business venture due to the fact that you had a few good ideas, and chose to pursue one of them. This is the innovation process for those that are starting, or launching something totally new.

With that, your product, service, what have you can be easily augmented and adjusted to suit market needs, additional products, support products can also be added to your product, this is where No.1 comes in. How do you get from A->B how do you grow, and what and where can you innovate to help your business grow.

The last is the hardest to manage, specifically as it needs constant and ongoing attention which most startups lack do to limited resources. In practice it’s strongly supported by larger companies in high-innovation industries, bio, clean tech, hardware & chip design, etc… However that does not mean you should forget about it, Innovation and strategy should always be informing one another, always.

Free Consulting for Startups, you bet.


Free Startup Consulting?

So you’ve got a problem, there’s a process and you just can’t seem to understand how to get around that process while keeping that something vital to your business model. You talk to your partners, they’re stumped as well, friends and family can’t help, and colleagues just don’t have the time to devote to the problem.

What do you do? Get a consultant. Sounds great except for the fact that these guys can charge a couple of hundred an hour and as a startup the last thing you have is a a few spare grand laying around that you can throw at someone who may not be able to provide you with an adequate solution. But there is good news.

And that good news is you’ve got access to consulting clubs and entrepreneurship clubs at universities and MBA programmes. Most majour cities will have at least one university that has a good enough MBA programme, and those students who are in those clubs will be more than eager to tackle any real world entrepreneurship, or consulting issues you may have. Why? Simple, it’s real world experience, and they’re learning from the real – day to day – problems of your company. Not only that they’ll be able to slap that bit about helping you on their CV’s and it’s sure to look good.

But aside from just contacting a club and saying “hey, I’ve got this issue” – turn it into something more, propose presenting your company to these students, and then pose your problem, ask them how they would fix it. If you’re a non-business type entrepreneur where you’ve just recently learned about i.e. business plans & P&L’s, but know how to say… rectify colon cancer (no pun intended), then the business help from these lads and ladies may be exactly what you need and are looking for.

Why not hire a MBA intern?

There’s even a chance that the person you’re pitching to could spend a few good months over the summer with you getting you an your company ready to pitch to the right people. If the relationship between your company and the school and some of the students is a good one, consider hiring a MBA intern.

In terms of a consulting club, this is a bit of a different approach as these guys are going for the MBBB (McK, Booz, BCG, Bain) group, and you should pitch your problem as a possible project for them. They’ll get hands on experience, and you’ll get a report that otherwise would have cost you a nice chunk of change.

Remember, as entreprenerus, we have to be resourceful, and utilize those resources around us effectively, and efficiently. Business schools are a great place to find those resources, the students are motivated and yearn for hands on real world experience. Why not give them what they need?

If interested in working with MBA’s – or if a MBA and interested in working with Startups – contact us – info @ – we’ll put you in touch.

Podcast: Starting a Biotech Company

How do you start a Biotech Company? Good question, for the most part it’s like anything else, you have a good idea, you write a business plan using a well defined guide, and then proceed to get things off the ground.

But we’ll let someone explain it better than we could, this podcast comes from Absolute Science and where Mignon Fogarty interviews her husband Patrick Fogarty a post-doc at Stanford who in the 90’s started his own Biotech Firm with next to no knowledge of business. However you’ll notice a lot of the same trends we’ve been discussing here, engaging executive summary, a hook for the VC, scalability, market size and identification, thus further pinning the belief that a majority of entrepreneurial concepts are transferable between industries.

->> Listen to the podcast <<-

Technology Startup Incubator Deadlines

Fist there was Y Combinator, then there were copies and similar style initiatives that popped up all over the world, were they micro investments, business and tech incubators, business accelerators, hand holding initiatives for the business non-savvy, what have you. And with the multitude of them out there, it’s hard to keep a track of when and where all the deadlines are.

Jüri Kaljundi an Estonian blogger, technology and internet entrepreneur recently put together a list of the upcoming deadlines for these initiatives, and seeing as we’re here to help the entrepreneurship community at large as well, we figured we’d spread the love, you can find the original post here.

Technology Startup Incubator Deadlines Spring(ish) 2010

NYC Seedstart (New York City, USA): February 28

The Openfund (Athens, Greece): February 28

i/o ventures (San Francisco, CA, USA): March 1

SproutBox (Bloomington, IN, USA), March 1

Y Combinator Summer 2010 program (Mountain View, CA, USA): March 3

Morpheus (India): March 10

Startl (Philadelphia, PA, USA): March 15

Techstars Boulder (Boulder, CO, USA): March 22

DreamIt Ventures (Philadelphia, PA, USA): March 22

Betaspring (Providence, RI, USA): March 22

Tetuan Valley (Madrid & Barcelona, Spain): March 23

The Founder Institute (San Diego, CA, USA): March 26

Capital Factory (Austin, TX, USA): April 2

NextStart (Greenville, SC, USA): April 5

Seed Rocket (Barcelona, Spain): April 5

AlphaLab (Pittsburgh, PA, USA): April 8

Shotput Ventures (Atlanta, GA, USA): April 10

Startup Bootcamp (Copenhagen, Denmark): April 30

Bootup Labs (Vancouver, BC, Canada) May 1st Intake (Deadline Not Announced)

LaunchBox (Washington, DC, USA): May 31

Techstars Seattle (Seattle, WA, USA): June 1st

And if you know of any others please add them in the comments section and we’ll update this list accordingly. Thanks.

20 SEO Tricks for the New Website

If you’re a business, you need to have a website and for that SEO optimization is key, but just putting a website on the web isn’t enough, you’ll have to get it to pop up in searches, and build some buzz around it. In short so the googles and bings of this world will list you on page one. As such, we found this article from Josh Klein, and figured we’d share it with you.

1. Pick a domain name that matches your primary keyword.

2. Get other important keywords into the secondary page URLs using mod rewrite (or a platform that supports it, like WordPress).

3. Make sure every page has a unique title and H1 tag that matches your primary keyword objectives for that page.

4. Make sure the homepage links to most, if not all, other pages (at least to start).

5. Make sure every page links back to the homepage and many other secondary pages using appropriate anchor text.

6. Register on every social media site that makes sense for you (using this list). Include a link to the site in your profile. You can see how I have done so at Twitter or LinkedIn. It helps if the username you choose is a primary keyword.

7. Link the social media profiles to each other where applicable. Fill them out as fully as possible.

8. Actually use the social networks. More activity will create more links to the profiles, in turn passing more “juice” to the website.

9. Want a link from Wikipedia but you’re not famous enough? You can write whatever you want on your own user page.

10. Claim your site using Google Webmaster Tools. Submit your sitemap (preferably one that is automatically updated when you add new content, like with this plugin for WordPress).

11. Add a link to your email signature. No, it doesn’t count as a link. Yes, it can get other people to link.

12. Write guest posts for blogs matching your niche. Include your link in the byline.

13. Bookmark every page on deicious, stumbleupon, digg, reddit, etc.. .

14. Do a Google Search for every one of your top keywords. Figure out how to get a link from any site showing in the top 20 results.

15. If it’s a blog, become a Chris Brogan Rockstar, Liz Strauss SOB, and Alltop Whatchamacallit. If possible, start your own badge instead.

16. Do not under any circumstance pay someone for a link. Do not offer or accept offers to trade links.

17. Avoid linking out to shady websites of any kind.

18. Study the keywords your competitors target (if they use meta-keywords you can just view source). Write landing pages ultra-optimized (is that the name of a Transformer?) for those keywords.

19. Write a blog, or find some other way to continually add new content. This adds to the content you have indexed, but is also another opportunity for links.

20. Focus on putting up great and relevant content on the site, that’s the winner in the long run. Oh, and link to old content.

Follow these tips and you’ll end up with a few hundred links to your site. It’s a start, but no replacement for the real work of being worth caring about. For the original article – by Josh Klein click here

Startup Saturdays: CFI Partners

This Saturday we would like to introduce you to CFI Partners, a crowd financing platform recently started by a couple of IMD MBA’s. What we find specifically interesting in CFI is their alternative approach to financing startups, it’s new, novel, and it’s taking a risk, it’s what we believe any startup should be, so without further ado, this week’s Startup Saturday: CFI Partners

How did you come up with the idea to crowdfinance?

Imagine the number of missed opportunities that are overlooked or can’t be addressed by the more traditional mechanisms of financing such as private equity and venture capital.

We ourselves saw several cases where entrepreneurs had a great idea but were unable to get past the initial seed funding, or where there idea had a potential for generating strong revenue, but not on the scale that would interest venture capital.

There are several reasons for this, the difficulty of evaluating each opportunity, the cost of the transaction, and the fact that risk capital is not as well developed in Continental Europe, let’s say in comparison to the US. These factors create a threshold where investment opportunities under <$2 Million are uneconomical for traditional venture financing. Furthermore, with more and more of the funding for venture capital and private equity coming from big funds, there is an increasing trend for larger investments.

With crowd financing we democratize the process and make it more efficient. The amount of money that can be raised can be quite significant. If you look at the Obama Presidential Campaign, he rose over $400 million from individual contributions of $200 or less. So substantial amounts of money can be raised. But another aspect that makes crowd financing attractive is the fact that by decreasing the amount that needs to be invested, you open up the process to a whole new market. As this market is more efficient, smaller investments remain attractive. Thus crowd financing allows us to address an interesting part of the innovation market, the area of 50,000 € to 2 Million €, which is underserved at the moment.

Another factor that attracted us to crowd financing, was the chance to develop a community where the considerable power of sharing information can be leveraged. Members of our community will help develop entrepreneurial ideas with their feedback. Basically we will act to bring together the information latent in members of our community, leading to more efficient and we hope more successful investments.

Interestingly, we set out initially to design a platform with the classical technology innovation entrepreneur in mind. However, we have seen a strong demand from film makers, bands, and designers who feel that crowdfinancing could be the best approach for them to raise funds.

Any milestones that you’d like to share?

We started out developing this idea in November 2009, and have been working on refining and developing the concept. Understanding the market and who are our customers. At the beginning of 2010, we refined the website of our company to explain more our ideas and elicit some feedback.

We have been also working on getting feedback from both entrepreneurs and investors. These inputs are going into the development of our web platform for crowd financing, which we are scheduling for launch in Spring/early Summer 2010.

Another important aspect, of course, is raising funding for our own platform. A process which we have just begun.

Can you tell us a bit about the team?

Hervé and I met as classmates in the executive MBA program of IMD. We have rather different backgrounds, but high levels of experience. Hervé has a strong background in marketing and finance, having worked both in large corporations such as GE, but also for smaller startups. He not only has experience working for start-ups, but also has worked with private equity. Thus he has a good experience with both sides of the equation.

Myself, I have over 16 years of driving innovation in Biotechnology. Initially, leading research at top Universities (I have a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology from Stanford) and more recently working in start-ups driving the R&D program and supporting product development. I have a strong insight of the needs that start-ups have when it comes to innovation support. Hence, my excitement in supporting our project.

Any difficulties you’ve experienced in the startup process of your company?

I think what has been the most surprising thing for us is the speed at which the interest and demand has developed around this idea and our platform. Hence, the biggest difficulty we’ve had has been the lack of resources. Hervé and I are bootstrapping the company, while keeping our full time jobs, and still making time for our families. Luckily for us, we seem not to need a lot of sleep! ☺

But seriously, the lack of the time and limited financial resources has meant that we have difficulty keeping up with the pace of the project.

To make sure we capture this opportunity is why we are pushing to launch this spring.

Any advice to pass on to budding entrepreneurs?

Engage with other entrepreneurs about your ideas, they can help you develop your ideas and evolve them. To many times entrepreneurs keep their ideas to themselves and lose the power of other peoples input to convert their ideas into successful ones.

And Tthe next time you are considering fundraising, consider the power of using crowdfinancing. You can a get more details at our website. and consider using our platform this Spring for your fundraising needs!

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