5 Entrepreneurship Truths Nobody Tells You About

There’s no denying that entrepreneurs are the new rock stars. We are bombarded with exciting tales of overcoming adversity on the road to success and the message is often that you too could quit your day job, launch a successful venture and reap the multi-million-dollar rewards. Here’s a reality check.

The fact is that three out of four venture-backed startups fail. Why? Because founding a company is harder than most of us imagine. Behind the glamorous image of entrepreneurship lies a rollercoaster of epic highs and crushing lows that can produce great rewards, but also negatively impact your relationships, quality of life and even your health.

To give first-time founders an insight into what they can really expect, here are five realities I wish I knew when I began building my own business.

It’s a common belief that the founder of an organization is its wise chief navigator who single-handedly steers the way to success. I found this to be a gross misconception. If a startup business is to flourish, the founder must set their sights on gathering the right people around them, as you can’t always be the smartest person in the room.

This might sound like an obvious statement to make, but it can be surprisingly difficult for a founder to hand over control. Assembling a strong team requires humility: the founder must accept that their skills have limits and recognise where they need to add the abilities of others. When I launched my company at the age of 25, it quickly became clear that while I had bucket loads of ambition, I needed a great management team and guidance from experts. Not only did I hire a management team of people who are all my professional seniors, I also quickly onboarded advisers with 20+ years worth of advertising technology, telecoms and business experience. The move paid off; my company grew quickly and many of my mentors later became my investors (and some even board members).

Pragmatism over idealism (almost always)

Founders are often idealists by nature. We start our own ventures because we want to solve problems we see in the world and, fuelled by the entrepreneurial fairy-tales that are so prevalent in today’s society, it often seems like creating the ideal company that runs just as planned should be achievable.

But perfection isn’t a realistic goal. Indeed, it’s highly likely that many of our best-laid-out plans will go awry somewhere along the line. A project you’ve always wanted to implement and spent 100 hours per week developing may turn out to be untenable. A friend who stepped in to fill a role might be the wrong fit for your firm. At such times, there’s no room for idealism — particularly when the situation hinders business prosperity.

To build a successful company, founders must be pragmatic: prepared to put emotions aside and change course, halt unfeasible projects after much blood, sweat and tears went into them, and make tough decisions. Although this sometimes means letting go of the original dream, a logical focus will likely propel company growth further than blind stubbornness.

The devil isn’t always in the detail

Quality is crucial to win customers and stand out against your competitors, yet it doesn’t follow that founders should try to preserve standards by acting as the main quality control checkpoint. While at first, you might be able to assess all operational elements — from customer emails to service delivery — an overly detailed-focused approach will become impossible to sustain as the company expands.

I was heavily involved in creative output at the beginning of my startup journey. As a former designer in the ad industry frustrated by restrictive banner formats on mobile, I wanted to design an experience of mobile ads that utilise lock-screens within a non-disruptive experience to the consumer. As our client base increased, so did business areas demanding my attention; be that strategy, shareholder management, or revenue flow. I just didn’t have the capacity to oversee each detail anymore and, consequently, had to hire and trust in a skilled team of experts to keep the quality bar high. If you build the right workforce, it’s important to have faith in them and let them shoulder their areas of responsibility, even if it doesn’t always end up exactly as you imagined.

Everything else comes second

It’s common knowledge that establishing a new business will disrupt your personal life, but I believe the full extent of this disturbance is less widely acknowledged. Firstly, it’s not unlikely that you will work many 16-hour days on zero salary, at least for the initial months, or even years. Secondly, you’ll definitely spend less time with your significant other, family and friends. Thirdly, you might need to eventually move country and leave your home network behind, which can be lonely at times, but helped once more by assembling a great team. Finally, it will rapidly become apparent that no one else is quite as dedicated to accomplishing your vision as you are. So, if you aren’t ready to give up a portion of your private life for the business, you may not be able to really make your entrepreneur dream happen.

It’s not for everyone (and that’s OK!)

There’s something very enticing about the thought of leaving the typical 9 to 5 routine and setting up as your own boss. Yet the actuality of entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. For those who understand and embrace the pressure, sacrifice and strain that come with starting a business, it is usually a rocky road to victory. For a large proportion of people, however, the harsh reality of going it alone can outweigh the benefits. And that’s ok, because what matters most is choosing a career you are comfortable with. If your health and happiness are in jeopardy, it might be time to re-evaluate which path you want to follow.

None of this, however, is to say that entrepreneurship is a bad route to take. There are many benefits to building a company from scratch; not least of which are the freedom to innovate and the ability to structure your time and focus. It’s just that the advantages usually get the most attention, while the less romantic side of entrepreneurship is left out of the spotlight. So, before they are drawn in by the glow, it’s imperative for prospective first-time founders to consider the less glamorous aspects of being an entrepreneur and ask themselves: is this really the right decision for me?

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesunder30asianetwork/2018/09/19/5-entrepreneurship-truths-nobody-tells-you-about/#5d7eb7dd3d09

How Open Innovation Can Reduce The Costs Of Innovation

There are few organizations that don’t wish to innovate, but whilst most aspire to develop creative new products, services and processes, the evidence is mixed as to their ability to do so successfully.  A big contributor to this gap is the cost of innovation.

A recent study from the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research highlighted the growing costs involved in innovation. The research shows that companies are investing far more than their historic peers to achieve the same results. Organizations today are devoting approximately 20 times as many people to R&D as their peers did in 1930, but the output from all of this endeavor is not rising in unison.

“It’s getting harder and harder to make new ideas, and the economy is more or less compensating for that,” the authors explain. “The only way we’ve been able to roughly maintain growth is to throw more and more scientists at it.”

This tremendous investment has seen expenditure on R&D doubling every 13 years purely in order to maintain the same level of output.  What’s more, this is not a case of particular laggards dragging the pack down, for this diminishing productivity is consistent across sectors. When it comes to innovation spending, the challenge for large companies seems to be about spending smartly. To be able to grow and innovate at an increased pace, companies need to reverse this predicament by spending less and innovating more.

Fruit getting higher and higher

This is probably the case because innovation is becoming harder to achieve.  Previous research has highlighted how a growing proportion of innovations are what’s known as recombinative.  This means that innovations take existing ideas and technologies, and apply them in unique ways.  Over nearly 150 years, around 40% of all patents fall under this category of innovation, with the ratio changing considerably as we approach the present day.

The potential for such innovation to make a profound impact is highlighted by Martin Weitzman, who describes the potential for recombination in his seminal paper on the topic.  He describes the ‘fixed factors’, including buildings and hardware, that exist throughout society, and the value we can derive when we find new ways to improve these assets.

Open innovation – collaborating with external companies toward innovation goals – offers tremendous potential for supporting just this type of innovation whilst also helping to tame the costs associated.  Rather than inventing the wheel from scratch and in house each time a company wants to improve a product, service or process, organizations are partnering with a wide range of external parties such as startups and independent software vendors to tap into their ideas, insights and solutions.

As well as providing a broad range of ideas, perspectives and insights to tap into, there are also clear commercial advantages.  By turning to open innovation approaches like running proof-of-concepts with startups and technology vendors, you’re reaching a large crowd of potential partners relatively easily.  What’s more, you are usually only paying participants if a solution is found, thus giving you not only a practically risk-free source of innovation, but also one that has heavily reduced costs by not requiring you to fund the failures that are an inherent part of innovation.

Accelerating time to market

Data science platforms like Kaggle and Innocentive offer a great way to attract relatively standalone solutions, but there remain considerable hurdles in integrating these solutions into complex systems or scaling up ideas for a mass market.

Innovation obstacles like customizing testing environments, testing external technology solutions, dealing with security restrictions and complying with regulations cost an organization time, and time costs money.

At the recent European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) INNOVEIT event, EIT Chairman Dirk Jan van den Berg highlighted the incredibly long timeframes to get new innovations to market, citing an average of seven years in energy and ten years in healthcare.  Even in relatively agile industries, such as digital, the time to market is still typically measured in years rather than months.

It’s a gestation period that can see the risk of failure increase significantly, and one that open innovation can help to overcome.

Companies such as prooV are at the forefront of efforts to make open innovation more accessible, efficient and effective for companies.  Their platform centralizes and streamlines the entire proof-of-concept process to make testing and evaluating new technologies faster, more customizable and more data-driven.

On the prooV platform, enterprises can test, evaluate and compare several technology solutions in the same proof-of-concept, rather than running a different proof-of-concept for each technology and having to compare the results afterward. This cuts out tons of logistics, time and effort, thereby slashing innovation costs.

“Proof-of-concepts should move innovation forward, not hold it back,” Toby Olshanetsky, Co-founder and CEO of prooV said. “Before adopting any technology, large companies with complex infrastructures and vast customer bases need to test and evaluate multiple solutions. Managing the entire process on one platform and being able to test and evaluate more than one vendor at a time cuts down on the time and money enterprises need to invest in PoCs while providing enhanced value.”

Beyond cutting the costs of innovation, such PoC’s can also help to generate the kind of data that helps to secure buy-in from across the organization.  The politics of innovation is something that Tuck Business School’s Vijay Govindarajan has touched upon numerous times, not least in his book The Other Side of Innovation.  The reality of scaling any innovation is that it will require buy-in from a much larger group of people than were involved in testing and developing the innovation.

Whilst securing things like board level buy-in and ensuring the financial and political power center of your business are represented in the innovation team, securing data to prove that your innovation really does what its supporters claim it does goes an awfully long way towards securing that buy-in.

“Chasing new horizons is the exciting part of innovation, but it is also the risky part,” Olshanetsky said. “Providing data about how solutions hold up to business and technical metrics that matter to your company showcases the benefits of open innovation and increases the chance of getting support from decision-makers.”

Innovation will never be free from risk, and we should never regard open innovation as a panacea to the various challenges associated with innovation, but when done effectively, it can help to mitigate many of those risks and give you a better chance of securing the results your organization needs. Open innovation with proof-of-concepts can solve core innovation challenges by ensuring internal buy-in, speeding up time to market and decreasing costs throughout the entire process.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2018/10/23/how-open-innovation-can-reduce-the-costs-of-innovation/#224c5fd07251

5 Ways to Innovate 21st Century Business

Anyone who lived in the time of legends such as Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein could be forgiven for thinking everything that can be invented already has been invented. Of course, if we’d stopped there, we wouldn’t have the computer or the internet. The past century of our history stands as a testament to human ingenuity and our persistence to make things better.

While innovation still is possible, much has changed. Ford’s invention no doubt was heralded as something just short of a miracle. Today’s feature-laden minivans, hybrids and electric cars mean any new entrant in the vehicle market will also need to enable flight if it’s to be seen as anything other than an also-ran. Competition is fierce and becoming even more so in the current climate.

This trend has forced entrepreneurs and business owners to evolve their views on innovation. Innovation in the 21st century demands we retrain ourselves to find pockets of spaces within industries where we can create a more fulfilling experience for customers. Here are a few proven ways to leverage that inspiration to sustain or build companies.

1. Ease the burden of responsibilities.

Many people work more than one job to satisfy all their financial responsibilities. This makes it difficult to juggle work and family duties.

Even so, this shift has created a business opportunity: the errand-services industry. These businesses exist to make people’s lives easier. Services range from the exceptional to the mundane – from dog-walking and grocery-getting to doing laundry, caring for elderly family members or performing concierge services.

All one needs to make a start in this industry is a willingness to do whatever his or her clients ask. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn how many people are willing to pay someone else if it means reducing their non-work responsibilities. After all, skipping hours on the job typically will be more costly for them.

2. Facilitate business operations.

In the words of Cova CEO Gary Cohen: “In the course of running a business, you will find that there are functions and responsibilities that you need to carry out to ensure the smooth and optimal running of your business. These services are usually such that even though they may not be increasing revenue, not handling them will certainly prove costlier for you.”

Third-party companies take care of many of these functions. Software-as-a-servic (Saas) companies such as Dropbox help people save vital business documents in the cloud. Many small businesses, in particular, rely on payroll and accounting software such as QuickBooks or payment-integration systems such as PayPal and Square.

3. Upgrade a product or service.

In the Babylonian era, toothbrushes – or more aptly, chew sticks – were made by fraying the end of a twig. In 1498, the first true toothbrush was made by rooting Siberian pig-hair bristles into a handle (typically made of cattle bone).  The efficiency of modern electric toothbrushes would put all their predecessors to shame.

What’s the lesson? Upgrading a product or service has been a viable strategy for a very long time. And so long as creativity remains, this breed of innovation won’t become obsolete.

VitaCup’s CEO suffered a vitamin deficiency as a child. As an entrepreneur, he discovered a way to make conventional coffee and tea healthier by infusing them with vitamins. People now can get all their necessary vitamins in America’s most-consumed beverage – without sacrificing taste.

Uber is worth billions today, but it grew from an idea to improve and streamline the transportation industry. Getting everyone in on the action is the perfect way to hitch a ride.

4. Create a meeting point.

People’s need for problems to be solved as quickly and easily as possible led to what I like to call “bridge companies.” In our digital world, these businesses often emerge as online platforms. Fiverr and Freelancer are among the industry’s biggest players. Both help people easily complete work-related or personal assignments.

Google Advertising spearheaded an online revolution that spurred companies such as Admitad – which further specializes in marketing for CPA firms – and a host of others. Each serves as a platform where advertisers can meet publishers who are willing to display their marketing materials.

In this model, entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to solve the problems themselves. Creating a convergence point adds value (and potential profit) enough.

5. Offer an experience.

Many times, people’s complaints about a product or service have less to do with the quality of the item or assistance received than with how the solution was delivered.

Hotels, for instance, are a massive part of the hospitality industry. People lodge in hotels for a myriad of reasons. But in recent years, a curious trend has arisen: Those who embark on casual travel for vacationing or sightseeing don’t like the idea of staying in hotels. They want to soak up the atmosphere, culture and language. In short, they want to feel what it’s like to be part of the community – and many of them want to bring their pets along for the adventure.

A hotel, though, is loaded with constant reminders that they are visitors. Not so with the home-hospitality experience, whose owners list their primary homes or vacation properties with third-party rental agencies. AirbnbAcmehouse and HomeAway fulfill this need internationally and locally while offering the full range of experiences possible in each locality.

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296978

Why A ‘Startup Mentality’ Is Key To Your Success

Envision the work environment of a newly minted startup. It’s a place full of smart, relevant banter and out-of-the-box thinking. It empowers a group of experts, thinkers, and collaborators to utilize their talents to bring an idea to life. It’s directed by a leader who fervently believes in the mission and knows how to inspire people—but it’s also driven by the team that supports and innovates on a daily basis. And most importantly, its mission-driven culture supplies innovators with the tools and connections they need to succeed. Because their goal is to bring a brilliant idea—the kind of idea that can change the world, because it’s relevant, creative, and fills a niche—to life.

Fast, intense, and incredibly purpose-driven: that’s what a startup looks like. Now, think about your own office. You might work for a small, family-owned company, or a large corporation. But chances are, your work environment is not very much like a startup. It’s probably steeped in meetings, routines, and schedules. It probably hasn’t changed much in the last few years. In fact, even though you may have a company mission statement, your leaders and colleagues may not display behaviors that back it up. That kind of stagnant workplace environment stifles creativity and innovation—in fact, it fosters a mindset of „let’s just do it the same as we’ve always done it.“ If you want teams making a difference daily, you need to take some pointers from startup culture. Here’s where you, as a leader, can start.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Encourage more questions. Why is it that many of the brilliant ideas of the last decade have come from startups (think Uber and Airbnb) instead of the boardroom? Because startup teams have a mentality of asking questions. They’re not afraid to reinvent, repurpose, or even scrap the status quo. They look for ways to refine, simplify, and make processes smarter and leaner. Start asking questions like “How can we…?” or “Why don’t we…?” and then follow through on the answers. Get experts and other teams involved. Reach out to old contacts for their input. And then, when you think you’ve got a new solution, stop and ask yourself, “What could use some tweaking?” Instead of sticking with the same-old, startup teams continuously improve and evolve products and solutions. Do the same, and you’ll be well on your way to making a difference.

Embrace change. The workplace is evolving. Since the growth of remote workers, the integration of social media, and the downfall of the cubicle, modern workplaces hardly look the same as they did even 15 years ago. The companies ahead of these trends are often startups. They value flexibility and innovation, not just in their teams, but also in the structure of their workplaces. It’s crucial to embrace these changes in order to appeal to talent from younger generations. But more importantly, it would be foolish to not take advantage of the benefits these changes bring. Who wouldn’t want the ability to hire an expert who’s a perfect fit for the team, even though they live across the world? Thanks to the rise of telecommuting, now you can. And why wouldn’t you want to institute policies that make communication and collaboration seamless and easy? Thanks to the progress of technology and social media, it’s more possible now than ever before. So be flexible like a startup, and get rid of archaic policies and procedures. Embrace the change. Your refreshed workplace will attract talent and inspire innovation.

Make room for mistakes. Innovation doesn’t happen overnight. Successful startups know that one good project can take months of tinkering and trial and error. Communicate to your people that the process and effort are just as important as the result. As Thomas Edison said on his path to inventing the light bulb, „I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.“ That’s the startup mentality you need as you’re cultivating innovation in your teams. Make room for error, and understand that not every project will be able to meet the deadline or achieve greatness. But the important thing to remember is that you’re striving toward making a difference with the projects and solutions that do.

Remember why we’re here. Sure, passion for your work can fade over time, especially if you feel like you’re not making a difference. It’s important to remind ourselves and those around us about the differences we do make—and recognize the efforts and achievements often. Do you remember the ideas, the passion, and the world-conquering attitude you had when you joined the company? Revive it in yourself and your team mates by cheering, recognizing, and appreciating the work that is being done.

The unique values and culture of startups give them a leg up on innovation and creativity. But, we’ve seen large, established companies adopt these values and transform as well. It’s up to each of us as leaders to build a culture that inspires innovative brilliance in our own teams and organizations.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidsturt/2016/01/28/why-a-startup-mentality-is-key-to-your-success/#7b80943f5017

Five Steps to Technology Commercialization

The Discovery and Innovation process can be iterative, bouncing in a multitude of directions through trial, error, learning and back, until finally—success. However, the process for commercializing that discovery can be simplified to a five-step illustration of a complex process.

Opportunity 
The Opportunity phase consists of identifying the scientific and commercial value of the discovery. For many inventors and scientists, the scientific value may be more straightforward than revealing the commercial value. The commercial value is simply that there is a market and customers who are willing to pay for your technology—that it meets a need, either real or perceived. Key steps in this process include cultivating a professional network in your field of expertise, research and documentation. Proper documentation is critical in this phase, as it will become an integral part of the protection of your innovation. Keep detailed records and do not make public disclosures concerning your idea. Sharing your idea without proper “non-disclosures” may jeopardize the future protection of your concept.

There are several resources available to assist you in the initial evaluation process. The BTCC works closely with researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs to transform their technologies into commercial enterprises. For non-technology-related innovations, Bradley’s Turner Center for Entrepreneurship or the Peoria SCORE Chapter can assist in new-venture evaluations and guidance.

Protection

Once a meticulous description of the discovery is complete, a patent, trademark or copyright protection process can be initiated. A patent gives you the exclusive right to prevent others from making and selling your invention. Trademarks offer protection for brands, symbols, logos and colors. Copyrights protect original works of authors, composers, programmers and screenwriters. In some cases, acquiring a patent may take longer than the window of opportunity for commercialization will allow.

As the innovation is taking shape, evaluate your business development goals. Do a little “daydreaming” about the future of your discovery. Is this an intellectual property to be developed and sold to enhance the business of an existing company, or is this a technology that will launch a unique start-up company?

Business Case and Commercialization Plan
This part of the process will determine if the innovation or discovery is truly feasible. “Will the dogs eat it?” is a phrase that could describe the development or creation of the business case. It involves a comprehensive analysis of the industry and market, creating the value proposition, and close identification of the customer. It is imperative to hone in on the customers’ needs and expectations in this phase, as it will impact everything from product features to the distribution plan. You will also need to document the business operations, policies, legal structure of the business, marketing and growth plans, financials, and the team needed to make your venture a success. The Peoria NEXT program, NEXT Steps, is designed to provide detailed feedback on commercialization plans and informal networking between innovators and investors.

Building the Team and Securing Capital
Having the right expertise on your team will not only make the project more viable, it is critical to securing the needed capital investment for implementation and commercialization. Investors need to be assured that you have the necessary expertise to execute your plan. In this phase, “you have typically exhausted your friends, family and fools network and need additional funding to move forward,” according to Kip McCoy of the Heartland Capital Network. “You will need to prove to investors that you can make progress on your commercialization plan in a specified amount of time.” Ownership issues and partnership opportunities need to also be considered and outlined for the investors. Peoria NEXT, in conjunction with the Heartland Capital Network, can connect any business to angel investors, venture capital funds and other state and federal grant opportunities.

Executing the Plan and Developing the Product
Your work to this point has been preparation for starting the business or executing your commercialization plan. This phase includes the deal-making negotiations of selling the technology to an existing business or the start-up process of a new business venture. Roughly, the start-up process includes finding a physical location to operate your business, hiring personnel, physically organizing your business workflow, stocking supplies, developing prototypes and general administrative organization.

At every step along the way, your business development plan will need to be reviewed, modified and refined. Peoria NEXT has seasoned mentors to help you with each step in commercializing your technology.

 

Source: https://peoriamagazines.com/ibi/2009/mar/five-steps-technology-commercialization

How Academic Research is Driving Innovation and Growth

Most academic research has been closely identified with a niche and ‘enterprises’ seems to belong outside this circle. Research done at academic institutions across the world have deeply benefited science, economy, industry and several other fields. It fueled new discoveries and innovations in these disciplines, which has greatly transformed the world and how we live. Today businesses implement e-Learning to improve efficiency and productivity. Studies show that e-Learning reduces the learning time by at least 25 to 60 percent when compared to traditional learning.

But the acceptance of academic research among enterprises has been low, not because of its lack of value, but due to underutilization.  Out of the thousands of research papers and dissertations produced, only very few end up contributing actual value to an enterprise.

Propelling innovation within an enterprise rests chiefly on relying on information derived from external sources. In this case, academic research from universities seems a valuable cache of information that enterprises can depend on for using in all their crucial processes and operations.

The troves of academic research do need to help drive productivity, innovation, and growth in an entrepreneurial environment. And this is where the real intent of academic research lies: to stimulate positive action, innovation, and progress in an enterprise that relies on it.

 

Academic Research: A Driving Force of Innovation and Growth

Several research papers have broached the subject regarding the value of academic research in facilitating innovation and growth. Although appearing slightly biased, a look at the facts stated in these papers seems to offer the truth, which is that academic research has a perceivable influence in driving innovation and growth.

The revenues generated by enterprises contribute a major part to economic development. Besides, they promote the creation of more jobs, which improves the per capita income and the GDP of a country. The paper ‘Contribution of academic research to innovation and growth’ clearly identifies academic research as having a consequential effect in the corporate world.

The results derived from the study elucidates Research & Development (R&D) as a major driving force behind higher productivity, quality, and innovation in the products and services offered by an organization. When looking at how large enterprises are investing huge amounts in R&D, the above statement holds true. With e-learning, knowledge is no longer a centralized activity. Through learning management solutions, employees involved in the R&D processes become content producers with robust knowledge.

 

Research can guide a business to make several improvements to its existing methodologies and processes

 

Currently, enterprises have begun to understand the scope of using academic research. More organizations now tend to rely on meticulous research for all sorts of purposes ranging from product development to customer behavior assessment. And this calls for a new cooperation between enterprises and universities to share information for the betterment of both parties.

 

The Synergy between University and Enterprise

Universities across the world are spearheading academic research. Every year, the research output from universities and other major academic institutions have quadrupled. Enterprises can leverage this huge potential in academic research by forming collaborations or tie-ups with universities. Such collaborations enable universities to share their resources comprising of research papers, dissertations, case studies etc. with enterprises.

Mostly, the use of research can guide a business to make several improvements to its existing methodologies and processes. For instance, a company can utilize external academic research sources shared by a university to find better methods for renewing their existing internal research, development, production, and testing.

The continued success in implementing this model has led companies to actively fund academic research in universities. Companies can get early access to the research materials prior to publication, which they can use right away for any of their operations. Besides, funding universities for specific research projects is an effective exercise in public relations as well.

 

How can Enterprises Benefit from Funding Academic Research?

Funding academic research is the new norm among several top-level enterprises. Even medium and small-scale businesses have resorted to the use of research by networking with academics or by forging ties with local universities. Some ways by which an enterprise can benefit by funding academic research are:

Research Infrastructure – Funding a university will give an enterprise access to the advanced research facilities. The facilities have the right equipment along with skillful research personnel for carrying out the studies. It is a good alternative since it eliminates the costs involved in investing a separate research division and its infrastructure.

Skilled Human Resources – Universities have an array of skillful researchers who are well versed in the process and highly educated. The availability of such valuable resources can benefit a company greatly as it gives them access to the right talent that they need to aid in their specific research projects. It is a more affordable and less risky option than hiring people directly.

Talent Recruitment – Research funding at a university benefits an enterprise in recruitment as well. Universities usually have exchanges of research personnel who comes to work on a project temporarily. Companies can leverage this opportunity to hire personnel to work for them in areas concerning research and development of specific products or services.

 

Research Upholds Value in Enterprise

Enterprises that make products and services need a thorough understanding of what they intend to make. Every product or service undergoes a careful research and development within the in-house departments. This ranges from the design to its functionality so that it can best fit in with the needs of the end users whether public or commercial.

In today’s context, research has a prior value since customer interests have got diversified and technologies like the internet have spun off massive amounts of useful data. Implementing a proper R&D can be a true advantage for companies to develop products and services that sell profitably and serve the customer needs.

Direct cooperation between an enterprise and a university has produced excellent results that drive innovation and growth. The theoretical knowledge shared by the researchers have made quite an impact on the output generated by an enterprise. The studies bring out the latest insights into specific subjects and knowledge fields.

Adopting these new forms of information have enabled enterprises to fare ahead with the times. It creates true value in the products and services that they create, which in turn nurtures a model that upholds innovation and growth among all levels.

Resource: https://www.emeraldpublishing.com/news-and-blogs/how-academic-research-is-driving-innovation-and-growth/

The 8 P’s Of Entrepreneurship

Being a business owner doesn’t necessarily mean being an entrepreneur. If that was the case we wouldn’t need a new and such a complicated word. If you Google “entrepreneur” it will tell you that an entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. However, economists and some of the most successful entrepreneurs would disagree. According to economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter (1883-1950), entrepreneurs are not necessarily motivated by profit but regard it as a standard for measuring achievement or success. Peter Drucker who is well known as the father of modern management enriches the definition by emphasizing “change” and “opportunity”. He defines the entrepreneur as “someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

The word entrepreneur itself originates from the French word “entreprendre” meaning “to undertake”.

Having met thousands of entrepreneurs from many different countries and cultures and being one myself I came up with the Entrepreneurship Mix 8P’s. And if the word itself seemed complicated back then when I was studying the course “Entrepreneurship” for my exams, today I can say that being an entrepreneur is way more complicated than that.

So here are the eight P’s that I believe set successful entrepreneurs apart. The magic is formed by the intersection of most or even better all of the traits so the order is irrelevant.

The eight P’s of entrepreneurshipNINA ANGELOVSKA

1. Passion

Passion is the key source of energy, motivation and hard work. It is the driving force for every entrepreneur. It is what fuels the moving-mountains attitude and belief that anything can be done. It is what defines the famous “WHY” of the Golden Circle of Simon Sinek. If you are passionate about something you thrive to succeed, you love what you do so much that you want to do more of it. And the more of it you do the greater the chances for succeeding, thus getting better than the rest in your area.  In his book Talk Like Ted, Carmine Gallo states that passion is the key to mastering a skill. After analyzing hundreds of great speakers and presenters he claims that passion is the one thing in common for all. To use his phrase, which I love, I believe that successful entrepreneurs know “what makes their heart sing”

2. Perception

The story of Bata is the ideal example of this key trait. Bata shops can be found all over Africa, even in its most remote parts. The story behind is that by the end of the 19th century, Africa was opening up its market. Many shoe manufacturers sent their representatives to Africa to see if there was any business opportunity in this emerging market. The majority of them returned home, saying, “Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there isn’t any market for our shoes there.” All except for the Bata sales team who reported enthusiastically, “Nobody in Africa wears shoes! So, there’s an enormous market for our shoes in Africa!” The market conditions were the same for everyone and yet it was a matter of perception of the opportunity.

It was the same for me when I was launching the first deal platform in Macedonia at a time when less than 1% of the population was shopping online and e-commerce barely existed (no legal framework, lack of trust, a small share of people with payment cards etc.) Most of my friends with whom I shared the idea though that the market is not ready and the timing is not right and yet my company (Grouper.mk) became a success shortly after launching and today is known as the game-changer of e-commerce in Macedonia.

True entrepreneurs can see opportunities where others can’t or don’t.

3. Potential

Research shows that the brain capacity of an average person is far greater than its usage. The most successful entrepreneurs are willing to sacrifice hours of sleep and skip social activities with friends in order to invest in their potential. They don’t waste countless hours scrolling on social media or gossip, they feed their brain with quality content, they surround themselves with successful people. They are always curious about new things. And while there are differences in the potential that each of us possesses the good news is that our brains can be trained. The mind is what the mind is fed and good entrepreneurs feed and train their brains well.

But before this kind of “on purpose” training happens, it is worth mentioning that it all begins with our parents. First with their DNA (which is not in their control) and second with their home growing and teaching (for which they are fully responsible). According to one study by Rauch Foundation 85% of the brain develops until the age of 5. Therefore the environment of a child’s earliest years can have effects that last a lifetime. Therefore governments and entrepreneurship development programs that seek to create more and more entrepreneurs in this world should start by teaching parents how to raise entrepreneurs or people with an entrepreneurial mindset who will use their potential and thrive, instead of pushing accelerators and incubators to find or create entrepreneurs during later stages when brain elasticity is lower.

4. People

When talking about people in companies I always like to quote Zig Ziglar – ‘You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business’. People make good or bad decisions. Every single business depends on people (regardless of industry). That marketing manager that made that lousy decision to approve those ugly billboard designs, that salesman that negotiated the best deal that broke the sales records, that customer care person that impacted your perception about a particular brand. Every single thing in life depends on people. The success of a company, of a business unit, of a whole country, depends on the people. Even when we travel and explore new cities our opinion about that city is not solely affected by the beautiful nature or the architecture but people living there play maybe the most significant role – their energy, culture, attitude, hospitality influence our impressions.

Every entrepreneur, leader or manager with a vision needs a team that supports its vision to make it a reality. It is up to the ability of entrepreneurs to find the right people, to communicate the vision, to attract talent, to invest in building and sustaining their skills set, their energy, attitude and positivity.

5. Persistent Learning

Since I was a little girl, my mother taught me to strive for knowledge and be the best at whatever I do. She would say “You can have houses, cars, and wealth but one day it can all be gone. The world is not always righteous. The only thing that no one can take away from you is your knowledge. If you have the ability to acquire knowledge, to be a fast learner you will always be able to generate new income and build new things.”

And today, to add to my mother’s lesson I would say that another thing that no one can take away from us is our passion. What we have in our minds (knowledge) and what we have in our hearts (passion) makes us as unique as our DNA.

Persistent learning means learning anytime, anywhere from everyone. Outstanding entrepreneurs are able to absorb valuable information and knowledge for everyone like sponges. Being a fast learner is a must for entrepreneurs in today’s faster than ever changing world.

6. Permanent Change

Everybody wants change but nobody wants to change. The resistance to change is in our human nature but the faster we train ourselves to accept and adapt to change the faster we will become better. Successful entrepreneurs are flexible, they can adapt and change quickly. The ability to perceive change as a positive thing, to react and adapt to it is one of the most powerful skills. As Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Or as Michael Jackson says “I am starting with the man in the mirror and I am asking him to change his way… If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make the change.”

7. Perseverance

Imagine you have departed towards your very desired travel destination. You have planned and fantasized about that magnificent place for so long. You start your journey and suddenly there is a big rock standing on your way. So what do you do? If you have some strong friends you might call them to help you push the rock away. If you don’t have any strong friends your solution might be to climb it. But you don’t know how to climb. So you take climbing lessons and come back with your new skill and climb that rock and continue the journey. It is the same in business. The “rock” symbolizes any kind of obstacle you might face (it be a financial issue, can be a marketing issue, you name it). The “strong friends” are the contacts, networks and people you have in life that can help you out. The “climbing lessons” is any new skill that you don’t know at the time or are not interested in but you go and learn it because that is your only way to continue towards your goal.

During the past eight years of extensive hard-work, overcoming barriers, removing rocks, dealing with all sorts of situations, making decisions, working with different characters and meeting people from all over the globe I learned a lot. In fact today I am grateful for all the struggles, for all those ‘rocks’ on my way, for every problem solved (that seemed unsolvable at the moment) because it made me more flexible, adaptable, resourceful and more knowledgeable. It simply helped me gain a competitive advantage and be a better and stronger person.

Nothing in life comes easy (at least success and good things). If you have a mission, if you have a passion it will not be easy. The road will be bumpy, the will be rocks on the way, some of them will be light, some will be super heavy but if there aren’t any rocks one thing is sure – you are not on the right road. It won’t be easy and we should ask for easy because that way no one will be able to copy what we create.

8. Proactiveness

Most people only do what they are asked, meeting the very minimal requirements and expectations (or even worse some under deliver). They need to be delegated and even micro-managed. Successful entrepreneurs initiate – they see the bigger picture and foresee the circumstances. They are proactive instead of reactive, they play offense, instead of defense. And this is what makes them hard to replace in any given environment.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninaangelovska/2018/10/10/the-8-ps-of-entrepreneurship/#1b37632014f5

Unlocking the Potential for Successful Technology Transfer

Technology Transfer is defined as “the process of transferring technology from its origination to a wider distribution among more people and places.” Various communities such as business, academia and government are routinely involved in these initiatives including across international borders, both formally and informally.

The primary desire is to share expertise, knowledge, technologies, methodologies, facilities, and capabilities among governments or universities and other institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to users who can then pursue development, robustification, design for manufacturability and exploit the technology into new products, processes, applications, materials or services. There are several types of returns. First, for the stakeholder’s investment in the research itself. Second, for creation of new job opportunities.  Lastly, for a new product or service that is likely to impact the health and viability on a global scale.

The U.S. government invests some $135B each year to advance science and technology (S&T) as the basis for breakthrough knowledge development and new innovations, of which around 20 to 30 percent is invested in successful Technology Transfer. The federal S&T budget is a sizeable sum. In fact, the federal laboratory ecosystem provides a home to several hundred thousand scientists and engineers working to solve some of the most significant scientific challenges on a national and global scale. The national laboratories alone annually produce 11,000 peer reviewed publications and over 1,700 reported inventionsand 6,000 active technology license agreements. However, the primary mission of the federal laboratory ecosystem is to perform basic research for scientific discovery to, support national defense and other missions, and to perform research and development in spaces where industry is not yet ready to lead.

Unlike both public and private commercial companies, the federal laboratories perform R&D with neither specific products nor services directly in mind. Most work in the public interest, and are often trusted advisors of the government. They understand the mission space, the requirements, and the gaps that need to be closed to improve safety and security of the nation.

The primary customers of the output from federal laboratory research and development efforts are often the federal agencies directly funding the work, since commercial transfer brings private funds to bear to bring products to market with government funded intellectual property inside. It is also an expectation as part of the charter of federal laboratories in 1986 that successful commercial outcomes are resultant benefits of the high-performance research programs.

What are the perceived barriers of Technology Transfer?

There are several constructs that impact success of Technology Transfer, and not least the uniqueness of the Intellectual Property (IP) involved, for example:

  • Is it leading-edge and breakthrough?
  • Is it disruptive?
  • Is it easily “copied”?
  • Are there competing technologies?
  • Is there a work-around?

All these factors contribute to the ultimate value positioning opportunity for transfer. In addition, federal laboratories are not evaluated directly by their sponsors on the commercial impacts of their research initiatives, and are in many cases discouraged from “picking winners and losers” in their effort to remain the unbiased and trusted advisors of the government. Due to the nature of their funding, federal laboratory research outputs are atypically complete product solutions and are most often in the early stage of development.  Companies to which the outcomes are transitioned must provide additional resources to develop research results into commercial, robust, sustainable products and services, and in the case of any environmental or medical technologies, seek appropriate regulatory approvals and often conduct clinical trials, if necessary.

These additional steps consume further investment dollars, can dilute internal company efforts, and seriously hinder the attractiveness of the transfer opportunity. Furthermore, most successful products combine multiple innovations from a variety of sources to meet customer needs.  A single technology license rarely provides a complete solution. These circumstances are especially true for the output from federal programs. The ability to deliver a final product is rare, and outputs are routinely seen as components ready for embedding into other more complex offerings.

Other issues that present barriers, in the case of federal R&D, is that the initiatives emanating from the federal laboratories are perceived to be difficult for companies to access. This is due largely because researchers must obtain funding for all their labor hours, and relatively few resources are available to support sustained collaborations with companies unless they are negotiated within the license agreement itself. Frequently, early stage companies pursuing technology transfer opportunities require assistance and mentorship not available at federal laboratories.

The hope is that some of the newly created and established accelerators and incubators with associated mentoring and guidance make for a more seamless transition route. Often good ideas resulting from the discovery phase at the federal labs are touted as moments away from widespread distribution, yet it rarely turns out to be the case. There is still a good deal of additional development, robustification, design for manufacturability, and even market positioning necessary before an “idea” evolves into a fully-fledged commercial opportunity. To streamline this process, encouraging entrepreneurs, investors and IP licensors to communicate a more perfect set of requirements necessary for “go-to-market” opportunities would eliminate the mismatch of expectations between the research and the commercial communities.

Many existing reports, white papers and articles outline the barriers to successful Technology Transfer, and they inevitably focus on the existence of the “valley of death”  defined as the phase directly after discovery yet before commercialization. Many articles describe the “push” perspective as the process by which technology moves from research to commercialization. However, the Technology Scouts, now a common formal position in many established companies, spend most of their time searching for technology in a market “pull” process to enhance and supplement a competitive, long-term company business strategy.

Photo Credit: The MITRE Corporation

Conditions for success

There are three conditions that must be met for successful Technology Transfer. Perhaps it would be insightful to list these “pull” conditions, so that those frustrated by perceived barriers on the “push” side reassess approaches to improve and increase yields for successful transfers. The conditions are as follows:

  • Alignment of Mission: The technology must enhance, simplify, and supplement the mission and the strategy being pursued by the “scout.” It must be the answer to a problem that the scout is charged with solving by his or her stakeholders. When technology “pushers” try to convince scouts that they should be solving a different problem, the pushers, and the deal, will fail!
  • Resources and Time to Market: The cost to innovate is immediate and certain, yet the value of the innovation is future and uncertain. There is an entire industry dedicated to predicting the value of future innovation, yet it is not an exact science and the elusiveness of the return and when it will be seen can be a killer!
  • Company Exclusivity: Technology companies (and their owners) scale quickly when they have a superior value proposition and a sustainable competitive advantage. IP is a critical element in building a sustainable competitive advantage. For technology providers, this exclusivity model is not always good business since investment in IP has a return if and only when an exclusive partner successfully commercializes and scales; if it does not occur, the upfront costs for innovation are not recovered.

What needs to change to improve Technology Transfer outcomes?

Important in the process of Technology Transfer is the need for companies and the federal laboratory scientists to have a shared understanding of the resources provided by federal laboratories. The federal laboratories are tremendous sources of innovation and technical expertise, yet they cannot provide everything a company will need to develop and commercialize a product or technology offering.

Programs exist to help companies access the capabilities of the federal laboratories.  Notably, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) provide mechanisms for companies to collaborate with national laboratories, and Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP) enable companies to sponsor research and development at national laboratories directly.

Both programs require companies to invest private resources, either as in-kind contributions to collaborations or as direct project funding.

One overarching opportunity, then, is for increased federal investment in collaborations with private sector partners to make the laboratories more accessible to companies with limited financial resources. The Argonne National Laboratory, for example, has supported a realization of this situation by implementing their Executive in Residence Program, where a company employed scientists working in close proximity at the federal lab during the later stages of technical development. The opportunity is then readily positioned for “spinning off” into its own entity—or to support future strategic initiatives in a well-established company.

Additionally, there are other programs that offer extension or expansion pilot programs to support Technology Transfer, such as the Small Business Voucher Program (SBV), the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) and the various Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)  programs. These programs target collaborations with federal laboratories that enable increased access to the laboratories and facilitate joint projects that can result in new products and subsequently the creation of new jobs. Expansion of other programs, such as the DOE Energy Investor Center and the DHS Transition to Practice (TTP) program, increase the visibility of the innovations and capabilities of the federal laboratories. At the same time, they help raise awareness of the commercialization opportunities that exist in the federal laboratories.

Photo Credit: The MITRE Corporation

Viewing the start-up realistically

If a project is pitched as perfection but delivers great, the project fails. If the project is pitched as good but delivers great, the project succeeds. Start-ups need to reign in how much perfection-pitching they perform. Investors, partners and acquirers need to view start-ups more realistically than their perception of a start-up’s ability to make overnight transformations. 

Aligning definitions of success and support at the stages of technology progression is critical to achieving positive outcomes. Mission alignment needs to continually improve. An increasing amount of research is being performed by universities and government so, as a result, there needs to be a protocol developed upfront to allow for alignment with established companies and any start-ups that ultimately commercialize the technology and discover marketing positioning for an output product.

Terms and agreements are also critical components for Technology Transfer because with investment in research, costs occur immediately yet revenue is future and uncertain. Any licensing terms need to share this inevitable risk, and provide the freedom for the licensor to pursue other licensees in cases where a commercialization effort does not meet certain financial goals.

What kind of regulatory/mandatory changes need to take place?

Federal laboratory scientists are often willing to help companies adopt their technologies, as evidenced by the success of the Argonne Laboratory’s Executive in Residence Program, as well as MITRE’s first-hand experience of partnering with them to develop and nurture opportunities. It takes a team to deliver Technology Transfer successfully.

However, federal labs have limited funding available to support engagements with private sector companies unless incorporated directly into the license itself. Mandating availability of increased funding of this kind, as well as reducing the administrative burden associated with accessing those funds, would drive greater private sector engagement with the federal laboratories, and thereby increase the commercial impacts of federal laboratory research and development.

In terms of mandatory changes to facilitate the delivery of and derive benefits from new innovative products in healthcare, for example, supported by a connected Digital IT architecture, investment in a standard interoperability framework would be highly significant. Currently, the landscape is diverse, and pointedly so in healthcare, where hospitals each operate individually with different system installations that limit the ability to interface seamlessly across institutions. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for any new innovations to be easily accessible by all points of the domain due to lack of an interoperability mindset. In addition, encouraging a more patient-centered architecture would lead to an increasingly robust innovation environment for healthcare. In fact, it has been shown that having patients involved in their healthcare improves results and lowers costs.

What can government agencies do to enhance opportunities?

Federal laboratories are ultimately driven by the goals and objectives of their funding agencies and offices, and they remain the bedrock for delivering outcomes for national defense as well as national safety and security. Technology Transfer Offices can help companies access the innovations and capabilities of the federal laboratories by increasing the programmatic value they place on such engagements, and actively encourage or support the interactions. In effect, this approach will benefit their needs, too, by making a product or service readily available, in a robust way, at economically viable price points.

There are also more likely to be further and future advancements of the technology available in due course driven by the product development efforts of the commercial company. This outcome would undoubtedly reduce sustainability costs for the agency as their needs would continue to be serviced directly from private funds. As noted earlier, extending and expanding programs such as SBV and TCF would likely increase private sector engagement with the federal laboratories.

Government agencies also can help with mission alignment. A good example of this approach was the space race in the 1960s. There are also several other examples where the government has been the catalyst for successful technologies that generate commercial breakthrough opportunities. Agencies should be setting goals and metrics and providing financial incentives for academia, federal labs, and the private sector to work together to meet these goals. Nevertheless, the government needs to avoid picking winners and losers because only the market can determine the future value of any technology. Once the “macro” level goals are set for alignment, individuals (scientists, innovators and engineers) need to be trained on the behavioral science of how better to understand the “micro”’ level needs of the others in the chain.

The NSF (National Science Foundation) I-Corps and the Fed-Tech program deliver value by helping innovators and entrepreneurs understand product market fit through experiential training in discovering needs. Similar programs, designed to align fundamental research to commercialization, would go a long way towards improving the situation. The Innovation Research Interchange (formerly known as the Industrial Research Institute) is helping to support match-making initiatives through its Federal Laboratory Activity Group (FLAG). Specific areas of focus are: Energy/Sustainability, Advanced Materials/Manufacturing, Cyber Security/Data Analytics and Robotics/Automation.

The government makes a good partner because it is a natural convener of new discoveries, can sustain much longer term strategies compared with industry, and is not under the demands of shareholders. Rather, it is often neutral and can enable even typically competitive organizations to collaborate for the greater good of society. While governments are not expected to over-regulate, their ambiguous guidelines can sometimes lead to fragmentation if the industry does not reach consensus, as evidenced by the lack of interoperability in the healthcare segment. If the government actively engages industry, then further fragmentation would be avoided and the associated longer term problems likely minimized.

What can and how can we help entrepreneurs to aid the process to success?

To support the entrepreneurial process, federal laboratories are encouraged to focus on some new approaches, namely:

  • Increase visibility of their capabilities and ensure innovations are readily available
  • Provide clearer guidance on what the laboratories can provide and, equally important, what they cannot provide
  • Host a series of technology focused workshops to raise awareness of available programs and opportunities
  • Award grants to entrepreneurs to support their programs
  • Create more opportunities for innovation bridges, so that challenges are solved together from the onset

Supporting entrepreneurs to quickly achieve a “Yes/Go” or “No/Go” pitch to future investment is critical. For example, a start-up entity often has 12 to 18 months of runway, during which time it needs to quickly succeed or fail (and pivot, if appropriate). With limited resources, the team is unable to spread itself thinly and therefore must remain focused on its target goal. A “maybe” response is a killer; it results in burning resources and does not help entrepreneurs to understand clearly if their product is providing true value. Being harsh but factually quantitative enables a better outcome for all.

Entrepreneurs themselves fall into distinct groups as determined by their efforts. Entrepreneurs focus on target-market fit and sustainable advantages of their products to attract investors. They need exclusivity yet have limited funds for licensing. For many start-ups, future equity is their only currency, so they need financial resources to help solve the problem.

What can well-established companies do to improve interaction, integration and chances of success?

Investing time with the federal laboratories to learn more about ongoing research activities and outputs is one way to improve outcomes. Most research results are complex and are “works in progress.”  While it is relatively rare to find a nearly commercially-ready technology solution in the laboratories, the laboratories have deep expertise and capabilities and can help companies quickly solve complex challenges.

Additionally, there is the need to resist the urge to negotiate the terms and conditions of collaboration agreements with federal laboratories.  Most laboratories can quickly implement standard agreements, yet must seek multiple levels of federal approval for non-standard agreements, significantly increasing the time required to put an agreement in place.  Furthermore, federal laws and policies limit the extent to which partnering agreements can be substantively changed, so that lengthy negotiations rarely result in significant changes in agreement terms.

Defining success at the stages of discovery, development, deployment and distribution are key to having projects reach positive outcomes. Without this expectation setting, project timing will be misaligned and it will be challenging to realign the stage-appropriate support to achieve real business value. 

Again, the three conditions associated with barriers to success apply—namely, alignment of mission, resource needs and time to market, together with company exclusivity. However, where a start-up may be heavily dependent on IP as a sustainable competitive advantage, large companies have other factors contributing to that competitive advantage, for example, brand, supply chain, scale, and channels. Large corporations will tend to “engineer” around patents in their commercialization process. Acquisition of IP will occur through licensing if it is core and foundational, and they cannot overcome the barrier. They will also only buy/license IP in times of disruption or transition. Generally, this outcome is achieved by acquiring a start-up that has commercialized a proven product market fit. In effect, established corporations are looking for products, not research, when they need technology.

How can the VC communities and start-ups take advantage of outcomes from federally funded programs?

Interactions between venture capital (VC) communities and start-ups present several areas for improvement. For example, enabling them to interface and work routinely with universities and other programs would increase their familiarity and comfort level with federally funded initiatives. However, it is also important to note that writing a successful grant application is very different than preparing a strong business pitch deck.

Encouraging portfolio companies to visit and engage with the federal laboratories to learn about available technologies and collaboration opportunities would certainly drive enhanced relationships leading to technology transfer. Allied Minds is one such company that routinely interfaces with several federal entities with the primary objective of accessing and gaining exposure to early stage IP. In the main, Technology Transfer offices are always happy to coordinate visits from prospective collaborators.

VCs are essentially risk managers and are unlikely to accept more risk to increase the flow of IP. VCs need to see their investments explode—or fail fast. Return on investment from Technology Transfer extracted from federal labs would undoubtedly increase if the lab can define the path to commercialization, even if they cannot execute that path due to their mission. Quantified data linking research to customer will attract VCs. As such, NSF I-Corps, Fed-Corp and DHS TTP initiatives are helpful programs. If technology has an assessed product market fit through a customer discovery process using scientific methods, in addition to the science of the invention, there is less risk. VCs will take advantage of this type of program in their investment decisions.

Conclusion

There is currently a mass of untapped technical potential and IP sitting on shelves within the federal laboratory ecosystem that has been funded by federal agencies. We know that those concepts which do make it to market, such as laser technology from the 1960s, have compelling impacts, solve national and global problems, provide a catalyst for greater success by industry alone, and drive the economy and GDP of the country. The laser is only one such technology, the Internet is another—it started life at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). And there are also many technologies we rely on today that emanated from the space race.

The results of all these programs are generally clearly visible, as compared with private investment where only those making the investment typically benefit and the outcomes are less visible to society. The advancement and discoveries of industry, therefore, have only limited impact as a result, compared with when the outcomes are delivered from government funded programs. Recommendations to further support unlocking the potential from federally funded R&D are as follows:

  • Increase funding to support the transition of technology to entrepreneurs
  • Enable federal laboratories to better understand business world needs
  • Engage teams with market positioning early on so that modifications can be built in accordingly
  • Create more programs like DHS and TPP to showcase early, impactful technologies
  • Encourage and find ways to showcase opportunities at all of the federal labs

With these modifications and implemented changes, there will likely be:

  • Increased technology transition to entrepreneurial and well-established companies
  • New opportunities generated for discoveries that make an impact on the national and global landscape
  • Economical and viable options delivered to support widespread government use of a technology
  • Technology advancement at private expense that will be available to government
  • A return on the initial investment by enabling economic development from growth of a new industry

Source: https://www.rdmag.com/article/2018/02/unlocking-potential-successful-technology-transfer

What, Exactly, Is Business Development?

Few times in history have more ambiguous words been spoken.  Ask ten “VPs of Business Development” or similarly business card-ed folks what is business development, and you’re like to get just as many answers.

“Business development is sales,” some will say, concisely.

“Business development is partnerships,” others will say, vaguely.

“Business development is hustling,” the startup folks will say, evasively.

The assortment of varied and often contradictory responses to the basic question of “what, exactly, is business development” reminds me of the way physicists seek to explain what, exactly, is the universe.  With conflicting theories on the nature of black holes and bosons, the ultimate goal for those scientists is a Grand Unified Theory, a single definition that can elegantly explain how the universe itself operates at every level.

Lacking any concise explanation of what business development is all about, I sought to unite the varied forces of business development into one comprehensive framework. And eureka, for I have found it – the Grand Unified Theory of business development:

Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.

There is elegance in simplicity, but perhaps this definition leaves you wanting more.  At its heart, business development is all about figuring out how the interactions of those forces combine together to create opportunities for growth.  But a theorem requires a proper proof, so let’s break that statement down:

Long-Term Value

First, what do I mean by “long-term value?”  In its simplest form, “value” is cash, money, the lifeblood of any business (but it can also be access, prestige, or anything else a company seeks in order to grow).  And there are plenty of ways to make a quick buck for you or your company.  But business development is not about get-rich-quick schemes and I-win-you-lose tactics that create value that’s gone tomorrow as easily as it came today.  It’s about creating opportunities for that value to persist over the long-term, to keep the floodgates open so that value can flow indefinitely.  Thinking about business development as a means to creating long-term value is the only true way to succeed in consistently growing an organization.

Customers

The “customers” portion of the definition may be slightly more obvious – customers pay the bills.  They are the people who pay you for your products and services, and without them you won’t have any business to develop.  But not everyone is a natural customer for your business. Maybe your product doesn’t have the features I’m looking for.  Maybe your product is perfect, but I don’t even know your company sells it.  Or maybe you’re not reaching me because you’re not knocking on my door.

Markets

That’s because customers “live” in specific markets.  One way to understand markets is by geography – if I only focus on selling in the U.S. but you reside in London,  then you are currently unavailable to me as a customer as I do not currently reach the European market.  But customers also „live“ in markets that are defined by their demographics, lifestyles, and buying mindset.  Identifying opportunities to reach new customers by entering into new markets is one important gateway to unlocking long-term value.

Take for example the Pet Owners market.  The customers who live there, of course, are people who own cats, dogs, fish, etc.  Petco is a company that clearly sells to customers who live in the Pet Owners market.  I, on the other hand, do not have a pet.  I don’t live in the Pet Owner market. So what if Petco wanted to sell something to me? Then they’d need to find a way to enter into a market where I do live.  For example, I have red-hair and pale skin and as such, I am prone to spontaneously combusting when exposed to the sun.  Therefore, one market that I „live“ in is the Sunscreen Buyers market.  If Petco wanted to sell something to me, perhaps they can find a way to enter into that market by offering sunscreen, hats, or sun-reflecting aluminum foil suits.  Now, determining whether that’s a good idea or not for Petco to do so is a job for the business development team – and another story for another blog post.

Relationships

And then there were “relationships.”  Just as the planets and stars rely on gravity to keep them in orbit, any successful business development effort relies on an underlying foundation of strong relationships.  Building, managing, and leveraging relationships that are based on trust, respect, and a mutual appreciation of each other’s value is fundamental to enabling the flow of value for the long-term.  Relationships with partners, customers, employees, the press, etc. are all critical to the success of any business development effort and as such they demand a bold-faced spot in any comprehensive definition of the term.

So, is business development actually sales?  Is it partnerships?  Is it all about hustling? Well, frankly, yes.  It’s all of the above and as we’ll see in future posts, it’s much more.  It’s a complicated and fascinating discipline that deserves a clear understanding, so that we can marvel at the beauty of a well-done deal as much as the stars.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottpollack/2012/03/21/what-exactly-is-business-development/#9b103657fdbb

8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership

Company leaders are facing a crisis. Nearly one-third of employees don’t trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Most of them also don’t feel empowered on their current jobs.

It’s clear that many leaders are failing to foster a sense of trust and loyalty in their employees. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Managers who show great leadership qualities can inspire their teams to accomplish amazing things, according to Daniel Wang, the creator of Loopring Protocol and founder of the Loopring Foundation. Loopring is a decentralized automated execution system that trades across the crypto-token exchanges. The platform reduces the cost of trading and shields users from counterparty risk. I’ve distilled my conversation with Wang to eight of the most essential qualities that make a great leader.

 

1. Sincere enthusiasm

True enthusiasm for a business, its products, and its mission cannot be faked. Employees can recognize insincere cheerleading from a mile away. However, when leaders are sincerely enthusiastic and passionate, that’s contagious. For instance, someone who worked with Elon Musk on the early stages of his SpaceX project said that the true driver behind the success of the project was Musk’s enthusiasm for space travel.

Wang says being enthusiastic helps a leader identify existing key problems in his industry. “Any innovation starts from these problems and ends with products and services, with some of the key issues resolved,” he said.

2. Integrity

Whether it’s giving proper credit for accomplishments, acknowledging mistakes, or putting safety and quality first, great leaders exhibit integrity at all times. They do what’s right, even if that isn’t the best thing for the current project or even the bottom line.

“When people see evidence that leaders lack integrity, that can be nearly impossible to recover from,” Wang said. “Trust lost is difficult to get back.”

3. Great communication skills

Leaders must motivate, instruct and discipline the people they are in charge of. They can accomplish none of these things if they aren’t very skilled communicators. Not only that, poor communication can lead to poor outcomes. Leaders who fail to develop these skills are often perceived as being weak and mealy-mouthed, according to Wang. It’s also important to remember that listening is an integral part of communication.

4. Loyalty

The best leaders understand that true loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they express that loyalty in tangible ways that benefit the member of their teams. True loyalty is ensuring that all team members have the training and resources to do their jobs. It’s standing up for team members in crisis and conflict.

“Great leaders see themselves as being in a position of service to their team members,” Wang said. “Employees who believe leadership is loyal to them are much more likely to show their own loyalty when it matters.”

5. Decisiveness

A good leader isn’t simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision making. They make these decisions and take risks knowing that if things don’t work out, they’ll need to hold themselves accountable first and foremost.

Further, bosses who aren’t decisive are often ineffective. Too much effort working on consensus building can have a negative effect. Rather than simply making a decision, many leaders allow debate to continue, and then create a piecemeal decision that satisfies no one.

6. Managerial competence

Too many organizations try to create leaders from people who are simply good at their jobs. To be clear, those who emerge as being very good workers often have important qualities. They are the ones who have a strong understanding of the company’s products and services. They understand company goals, processes, and procedures. All of these are important.

On the other hand, being good at one’s job doesn’t prove that someone possesses the other competencies they need. For example, can they inspire, motivate, mentor and direct? Wang illustrates with major league baseball. While nearly all coaches have backgrounds as major league players, the most winning players aren’t necessarily the most successful coaches.

7. Empowerment

A good leader has faith in their ability to train and develop the employees under them. Because of this, they have the willingness to empower those they lead to act autonomously. Wang says this comes from trusting that their team members are fully up to any challenges they face. When employees are empowered, they are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company and the customer as well. This is true, even if it means allowing workers to go a bit off script.

8. Charisma

Simply put, people are more likely to follow the lead of those they like. The best leaders are well-spoken, approachable and friendly. They show sincere care for others.

“People at all levels of an organization find it easy to relate to them and follow their lead,” Wang concluded.

Every one of these qualities is absolutely essential to great leadership. Without them, leaders cannot live up to their full potential. As a result, their employees will never perform as well as they can either. Because of this, organizations must learn the best ways to identify and also to develop these necessary traits in existing and emerging leaders.

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlyfries/2018/02/08/8-essential-qualities-that-define-great-leadership/#77a7f29a3b63