Thursday, September 22, 2011

Innovation is ... [insert phrase here]

... not just about the idea.

This has been a knuckle sandwich lesson for us.

We see an average of three product / service ideas from entrepreneurs each month. Some of these ideas, on the surface, look really exciting. Its hard to avoid getting yourself wrapped up in the idea. So much so, on a number of occasions we have taken an equity stake in an idea.

This is one of the distinctive parts of our design firm is our capacity to take investments in new ventures and our ability to connect our clients to others in our investor community. This has allowed us to see some rather interesting ideas, invest in them and watch the management team run them into oblivion.

The lesson: Innovation isn't just about the idea.

Ask any successful venture capitalist and they would agree.

Three examples.

Take a pet tracking device which combines GPS and Radio waves, allowing you to map out your rectangular yard and know when your pet leaves the boundary. Contain your pet without electric shock. Exceptional idea. Bankrupt.



Or a neutraceutical line of products with a great name [vimvia], phenomenal ingredients and a beautiful package. Amazing demand, wonderful potential. Bankrupt.


Now let's take one of our investments that has been an amazing success. Super premium vodka from Slovakia, named Double Cross. The difference wasn't the idea. It was the team.


Simple and seems obvious, people make things work. The idea is just that without the people who make it come to life. And, in the case of an innovation, there are so many behavioral aspects required of the team – the idea just isn't as important as what the team does with it.

Today, we get excited about meeting a great team. And, then we evaluate the idea.

We are always open to making investments in new ventures. We have designed our method for investing, just as we designed our original business model. But, we won't be investing in ideas, rather we will be investing in teams.

This same idea applies inside corporations of any size, it has more to do with the team than the idea. To the ratio of 80/20 in our point of view. Find an team capable of taking any innovation to market and then you'll increase your odds exponentially.

If you have an idea you'd like to share, we welcome it. If you have a team you'd like to meet us – we'd be even more interested.

Today, we don't take equity stakes in ideas, we take equity in teams.

When you attend the Front End of Innovation conference in the first week of October, be sure to connect with potential members of innovation teams. Ideas can always be discovered later.


Managing Principal
akeller@capsule.us


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