Monday, August 06, 2007

The Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries

I recently got a spam email about, "The Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries." Normally I'd just hit delete to blow this off and move on, but this struck me as odd.

I've been involved in a number of start-ups commercializing new ideas. When an idea is truly different, one of the real challenges is what to call it.

Fifteen years ago, I organized a group of investors called Capital Insights; 150 individuals invested $14 million in private companies. Was Capital Insights a venture capital firm? Most of the people investing wouldn't have been able to define "venture capital." Was it an angel group? Capital Insights was started before "angel" investors became a popular term. I find myself describing Capital Insights now, after the fact, using vocabulary that we didn't use at the time.

We've struggled with what to call InnoVenture too. Is it a "venture capital conference?" That's what it started out to be. It's evolved far beyond that, though, and the vast majority of the 1500 people who have attended an InnoVenture conference came looking for something else. So what is InnoVenture; an innovation conference. Yes, but that doesn't seem to describe it fully either. And most of the investors that come still make room on their calendars for InnoVenture by comparing it to other "venture capital conferences" they attend.

I do know that it is very important that you name new ideas well. One of the most critical jobs an entrepreneur has is defining the competition for pragmatic, mainstream customers. And that's what naming new ideas does. It tells they customers that they should do this, instead of that which they otherwise would have done. It can not be overestimated how critically important that positioning is to gaining market acceptance. I recently read an analysis of the video uploading marketing, and the author opined that a major reason the current market leader won is because they have a great name that clearly describes what they are: YouTube. There's something to that.

So that's what struck me as odd about, "The Encyclopedia of Emerging Industries." By the time the name for something new has become widely accepted, especially by the time the name is compiled into an encyclopedia, is it really "emerging" any more?

1 comment:

Patrick said...

A few comments on Innoventure. I really enjoyed attending and networking at the seminars and conferences I attended this year. The Creativity Day at Clemson was great and was probably the best networking event of anything I attended this year because they forced you to interact in, well creative ways and I thought of new ways to do my business. I also got a lot out of the seminar on Trademarking, etc. with the panel of lawyers.

The thing at Furman was interesting but it wasn't that applicable to me and the last thing they had with the guys talking about some kind of idea sharing software seemed more like a sales pitch. That should have been an expo of similiar technologies and procedures.

I've talked to some other small business people and they have shared in conversations that things like Innoventure and SCLaunch are not for them but rather targeted to the larger manufacturing companies that already have the "big money."

My business has the appearance of being not being innovative because we are in saturated market but we are trying our best to be unique and do things our competition or pereceived competition is not doing.

Web development is a big chunk of our offerings but it's not all that we do and we don't brand ourselves as a primary web development company.

My biggest frustration so far has been trying to develop the "secret ideas" I have not made public yet.

I really want to see the South Carolina and in particular the update make a better effort at targeting innovative entrepreneurs but who don't have the resources for dealing with legal fees assoicated with protecting these ideas or investing in the equipment or extra staff to work on things in the their "labs".

In conversations with other business people like myself we are a bit bothered that South Carolina is not as attractive or friendly to developing innovative and often technical ideas like Silicon Valley and other places. We really need to keep our eyes out for people like the two college kids who started Google or two guys named Steve who started a little computer company in their garage in the 70's.

I'm thankful my business is growing . We have started hiring our first employees this years, working in a spot downtown now and things are twice as better this year than last year and I'm slowly integrating some of my unique ideas as resources allow but with an improved culture that supports smaller companies I'm sure we could go to the next level a lot faster.