Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nailing the Entrepreneurial Mindset

Q: How did you develop the Swarm Enterprise Profiler?

A:  We started by getting inside the hearts and minds of serial, successful entrepreneurs

We knew that the Swarm Crowd Profiler is amazing for the very front-end of innovation, the phase when you are generating, refining and evaluating ideas. Swarm Vision is designed to dramatically improve that stage of the innovation process, and it delivers.

But we know well that it takes more than ideas to innovate. It requires getting real products to market, and driving widespread market adoption. That takes a whole host of additional skills beyond ideation, skills that rarely occur in one person.
We also know that innovation leaders generate higher financial returns, and that they innovate across the entire product lifecycle: from R&D to product development, from production to marketing. So we set ourselves the task of identifying the full range of innovation and entrepreneurial skills needed, not just to generate killer ideas, but to create real products and businesses that drive market results.

After absorbing gobs of available research, we started by interviewing serial successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in Silicon Valley, and their advisors and investors who know them intimately. We went with Silicon Valley because it’s where we are located, it’s unquestionably the hotbed of innovation in the world, and because it attracts innovators from all over the world.  These are people who have achieved multiple “exits,” created billions in shareholder value, whose companies have gone global and continue to prosper. Interviewing them was an honor, and truly fascinating!

We soon realized that a lot of the academic studies on entrepreneurs get it wrong. They see entrepreneurs from a non-entrepreneur’s perspective. One example: academic research on entrepreneurs is all about “risk tolerance” and “ambiguity tolerance.” But in our interviews, to a person, not a single entrepreneur even mentioned the word “risk.” They just don’t look at what they are doing through the lens of risk. Taking on big, real-world challenges lets them live life more intensely. It’s a way to pursue their interests and passions. Offer them an ordinary “secure” job, and they react, “But why?” When situations are undefined, that’s when entrepreneurs feel most engaged and useful.

Nonetheless, we wanted to give the academic research a fair chance. We ran two global studies, and included “proven” academic scales alongside our own questions. Again and again, our new questions, inspired by our interviews, out-performed the “proven scales.” That means our questions more clearly differentiated entrepreneurs from the general population. And our questions not only correlated better with entrepreneurs, but with real world business results.

Contact: Suzan@totembrand.com, Suzan Briganti, CEO, Totem Inc.

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