Innovate for the Inevitability

I don’t consider myself a futurist, however I do enjoy thinking, learning, and discovering about new possibilities that will fundamentally change the fabric of society and our day to day lives. Elon Musk famously talked about “Accelerating the Inevitable” as a reason he set-out to create Tesla and SpaceX. For Musk, he believed Electric Vehicles (EV) were as inevitable as is a manned mission to Mars. His motivation wasn’t to create a company that generates huge profits for shareholders, but rather to accelerate what he believed would happen at some point in the future. Both Tesla and SpaceX have pushed new boundaries in innovation and have fundamentally accelerated the Inevitability of EV’s and space travel to Mars and beyond. Whether Tesla and/or SpaceX become market leaders in these categories is yet to be determined, but what Elon Musk and other mavericks like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos has been able to achieve has and will accelerate their vision of inevitability in how they view the future we will experience and live.

If you think about the future and what will be inevitable, you can quickly see how industries will be disrupted, how new types of companies/innovations will be needed, how our society and daily lives as we know them will be effected (positively and negatively) and the types of products and services that could deliver new types of value to fill these voids.

For example, it’s inevitable that we will have automated EV’s in 10 years or less, and within 20 years it’s likely our cultural norm will be to travel in automated EV’s exclusively. So what could this effect and what are other inevitabilities? Continue reading

The Idea and a great product before anything else.

A colleague of mine at BLiNQ Media, Zack Adams shared a series of lectures by Sam Altman called “How to Start a Startup“. The first lecture (video below) provides some great insights for anyone considering starting up a company or part of a company that operates like a start-up (Like BLiNQ). Sam’s lecture on the importance of an idea and especially on getting the “product right” was relevant to me in my role at BLiNQ Media. It’s a big reason I took on the role and why I’m excited about BLiNQ’s feature and ability to create great product for a specific type of customer.

The fundamental lesson Sam points out is that you need a great product you can stand behind before you purse anything else. Great press and articles about the CEO, your company, your past, or speaking engagements, etc. should not be a priority until you have a product you believe in and a mission you and the company can drive towards. Success and/or fame will come only until you’ve build a great product and your obsessed with it’s perfection. It’s an important reminder to any entrepreneur or CEO. I hope to embody this believe at BLiNQ.

Enjoy the video.

CES 2014 – Raj’s picks from the show

I just spent last week at CES in Las Vegas and had an absolutely amazing time. This years trip to CES was a little different as I had access to Publicis Groupe events and private parties. Needless to say, I’m just now recovering from the parties!

Here are some of the highlights from CES for me.

  • Qualcomm’s Gimbal Platform – This is a context awareness platform using beacon technology as well as mobile app to create pretty much any awareness situation you can think of.
  • Cisco Retail Solutions – Cisco had some amazing concepts showing how they could connect the entire retail experience with beacon’s, tracking camera’s, and some pretty amazing store level and executive analytic’s (user foot track patterns, inventory, transactions, etc.). They had partnered with Aero Scout for the beacon technology.
  • Street Line – Pretty cool stuff when it comes to parking and other data for urban areas. Saw I nice demo with them and Cisco.
  • Google Fiber – I was lucky enough to attend a private meeting with Google to learn more about new products in the market. Outside of getting a nice pair of Google glasses, one of the best road maps I saw was for Google Fiber. Alot of us are familiar with Google Fiber, so I won’t bore you with the details, checkout the site. What’s amazing is the approach Google is taking to dominate the Fiber network not only in the US, but in other countries that have poor infrastructure or countries that have a monopoly (higher prices as a result). If you don’t own Google stock, you should, this one division will dominate the world in 5 years and give Google a diversified portfolio outside of just search. Some interesting terminologies I learned from Google; they call neighborhoods “Fiber Hoods”, their retail stores are called “Fiber Space”. The Google VP in-charge (Milo Medin) of the division was telling me that he has seen credit ratings for cities increase because of Google Fiber (installed city), he also told me that if a house in a Fiber Hood signs up for Google Fiber (free internet), that account stays with the house, so if you sell the house the new owner gets Google Fiber as well, this helps home values and rental values. Not to mention, a city that helps bring in Google Fiber (make it easy for Google in install) gets free fiber to schools, libraries, etc. Milo was clear to point out that he only goes to cities that make it easy for him, it doesn’t matter about the size of the city. Amazing stuff from Google, including how they roll out and install a Fiber Hood. Continue reading

Innovation is discovering the unknown when you’re looking for it.

Engauge’s DIG group asked a few of us to define “Innovation” on the fly. I came up with “Innovation is discovering the unknown when you’re looking for it”. The beer in my hand may have helped, but I think there is something to be said about “discovering the unknown when your looking for it“.

Everyone works differently of course, but based on how I work best, here are 5 tips to help you uncover what you’re looking for.

  1. Sitting in the same room for 10 hours straight will only water down your ideas and spin you in loops. So, start by changing up your physical environment when developing concepts and ideas. A 30 minute walk outside, or going to a new coffee shop for an hour can help keep you sharp and focused.
  2. Write down the problems, gaps, opportunities of anything that comes into mind. It doesn’t have to be related to the area your focusing on and don’t try to solve anything yet. Revisiting this list will help you uncover new ways of looking at the original problem or help you find common patterns with other problems that might spurn a new innovation.
  3. Look to nature as inspiration for possible solutions. Mother nature is the King-Kong of innovation; she’s been able to continually adapt and innovate over millions of years and continues to today. We have access to information that tells this story and see what was changed and why. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find when you look at it from mother nature’s lens. Here is a somewhat related example from TED speaker Michael Pawlyn.
    Continue reading