This week, I have attended two entrepreneurship events. On Tuesday I visited the exhibition “Fluorescent space vibration” by Hyper Island, and on Wednesday I participated in “How to start a startup” by VP Consulting and SUP46 (Start-Up People of Sweden).
The events were both on the theme of creativity – but out of diametrically opposed perspectives. Where “How to start a startup” was about how to position yourself in the market with your product/service/etc., “Fluorescent space vibration” (as maybe guessable from the name) was on creativity and invention.
This is what I’ll discuss in this blog post – the interesting contrast between invention and innovation. As we learned in class: an invention is a novel idea, while an innovation is the commercialization or implementation of that novel idea. Both are important – there will be no innovation without invention. But to just be creative and come up with great new things will not make the world move forward – nobody will know that it exists, and even less use it, if you don’t develop your invention. When inventing – the customer/user is not a part of the process! I would say that this is the most important distinction of innovation compared to invention – innovation is user centered.
I’ll now show you some examples of what I saw during these two nights. At Hyper Island, I watched two playful inventions. One used the pretty cool (innovation) Durovis Dive see to give you the possibility to see yourself from behind and thereby being able to navigate and place a cube in box. The other one played with the concept of a slot machine – but instead of an arm, there was a unicorn’s horn to hold onto, and instead of winning money occasionally you got a gum every time. Really amusing inventions but created more for their inventors than for their prospective users or for becoming commercially viable.
At SUP46, me and ten other people met up to see the speech “Competition is for losers” by Peter Thiel, one of the co-founders of Paypal and one of the first investors of Facebook. The talk was a part in a series called “How to start a startup” and had been recorded at Stanford university during the previous week. Us visitors were a group of people who either 1) wanted to start a startup or 2) had started one already but failed. It was a very interesting collection of people, and the most valuable part of the evening was sharing their experiences and strong wills to become entrepreneurs, often without having more of an idea/invention than wanting to start a startup in “food or fashion”. Really inspiring out of an entrepreneurial point of view!
Thiel’s speech was mainly centered on blue oceans (albeit him not mentioning the book anytime during his speech), and the importance of not competing but finding your own niche and be the big fish there. Thiel even said that customer development is overrated and that an extraordinary invention did not need testing before launch. But, although his speech was not on the exact subject of commercializing/user-adjusting your invention and its business model, the main thought was on how your startup should put the target segment in focus.
It was an interesting week, and even though the two events did not give me any extraordinary revalations, I realised that this class has given me a new perspective on innovation and entrepreneurship. I have not reflected this much on entrepreneurship as being a way of understanding the user, what it is willing to pay for (and how!!!) and how to turn your creativity into tangible, value producing, startups before.
Hyper Island is a private tertiary institution and educational company specializing in real-world industry training using digital technology.