Entrepreneurs, who are they and what they do?
This is a question that has been at the back of my mind for a long time. The closest answer to this is “Entrepreneurs create and exploit change“.The guru of modern management Peter Drucker once famously said “Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service“. Innovation, Change and Entrepreneurs are the forces that drive the engine of our global economy forward. Every successful country needs entrepreneurs to grow and prosper.
The key insight about founders is that they are able to create successful business by identifying opportunities, challenging assumptions, leveraging limited resources and by being creative. Now, most folks can pick up these skills, some of the founders are naturally talented in combining all the four traits. Identifying opportunities is a key skill, i.e. you can look at problems and stick with the status quo or you can look at a billion strong population of India as Captain Gopinath has done and create a low cost air lines. Guy Kawasaki says “you will never have infinite resources“, this rings true at startups and at big firms. Startups by using limited resources and by being creative, are able to chase out-sized goals and get out-sized results.
Some of the most innovative startups in recent years have been Threadless, ZipCar, BetterPlace, Kiva, Flip video recorder, Etsy, Zappos, Zoho, Mint.com and Skype. The amount of value created by these firms, in their first few years is phenomenal. If you look close enough at each of these startups, they bring a new innovation to the market. From creating an ease of use in recording HD video, enabling electric vehicles and pay-as-you-go model for urban transport, to connecting donors and entrepreneurs in third world countries. They are also democratizing hand made goods and customer service. These are the innovations, that startups have brought to the market and created hundreds of millions in value.
What is common between Apple iPod, Nintendo Wii and Indian Premier League? Each is a billion dollar innovation. Each of these is an outside-in innovation, i.e the market need for these innovations were always there and these firms were the first to tap into this market. It is very interesting to note how each innovation has become a billion dollar innovation. While Apple made buying and listing to music easy, Nintendo Wii created a new market for non-gamers, folks who had never played console games started playing. IPL brought club ownership and a professional national league, which combined innovative format of T20, great content with top notch marketing.
These startups prove that innovation and filling a market need are the tools of entrepreneurs in creating value for their employees, stakeholders and society at large. The future belongs to people, who can imagine a better world and create organizations that make their vision come true. Entrepreneurs ask themselves, what is the change they would like to see in the world and make it happen. Opportunities to create value and create a better world are still wide open and its in your hands to make it happen.
(This article is part of our series inviting entrepreneurs to contribute and win free entry tickets to Nasscom Product Conclave.)