Novelty vs Need in Innovation

by Adam on November 22, 2012

With the advent of digital media and the changing nature by which businesses come to market, it’s been truly informative to see how entrepreneurs interpret and innovate on this change. There’s been an interesting trend that has started to arise within the entrepreneurial marketplace as access to money and technology has allowed for an unprecedented scope of innovation. In this new environment, I’m finding more and more entrepreneurs who are mistaking need for novelty in the marketplace.

By that I mean, when an entrepreneur looks at their company as a solution to a problem in the marketplace, is what their identifying really a problem? Or is it a minor inconvenience that most consumers can find ways around on their own? In the food space, I’ve seen many of these kinds of innovations and I won’t get into the whys of specific companies. But, perhaps what’s most fascinating isn’t only that there is an entrepreneur that looks at the market and sees it as an opportunity, but that oftentimes, there are MANY entrepreneurs who jump into the market at roughly the same time.

Some things to think about when deciding to pursue a new entrepreneurial endeavor:

  • What is the problem? Articulate this based on how the current model underserves consumers, if/how it underserves providers in the space, etc.
  • Who are the incumbents/competitors? Entrepreneurs often love to say they are the first and that there’s no competition, but that isn’t always a good thing. If others have come before and your company innovates on their model, all the better.
  • Who is the market/audience? Be specific. On a regular basis, how often do they experience the problem you are trying to solve and how do they currently interact with the model you are trying to serve, if at all?
  • What are the consequences of your proposed solution, both in terms of modified consumer behavior and potential economic factors? On the latter, it includes both how your company makes money (and who, such as competitors, it takes money away from) and also if/how it makes the economic side of the equation more efficient.
  • Who are the partners/activators in this marketplace? Who can help you succeed?

In answering the above questions, you are crafting a landscape model for who/what is currently out there serving the space you are moving into. It helps to validate your idea, provide further thinking on how the ecosystem functions, and also how your company will fit into that model or change it. Once you have answered these questions, don’t be afraid to share them with others to get feedback on the business idea.


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