Research Achievements Help the Industry to Solve the Pain Points of SMEs
Gary Wang is a National Taiwan University professor of the Creativity & Entrepreneurship Program and the founder of TAcc+ (Taiwan Accelerator Plus), a national startup accelerator. Before this, Gary was the co-founder and chairman of Pergolas Medical Technology and the managing director of H&Q Asia Pacific. Earlier, he was also the chairman of Broadweb, a network security company, and CEO of CareMax Capital. In addition, Gary served as the president of 3Com APR Operations and held many senior executive positions at 3Com in operations, engineering, and manufacturing.
Academy/University/OrganizationNational Taiwan University & Taiwan Accelerator Plus
Source1.Anthony, Scott D., S. Patrick Viguerie, and Andrew Waldeck. "Corporate longevity: Turbulence ahead for large organizations." Strategy & Innovation 14.1 (2016): 1-9.
2.CB Insights (2021), The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail.
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Innovation-oriented entrepreneurship is one of the critical priorities governments have vigorously advocated and injected resources into in recent years. However, the global industrialization trend of innovative entrepreneurship has intensified competition to the point that the amateur mentality can no longer cope and must develop towards professionalism. New trends have made large enterprises and startups an integral part of innovative entrepreneurship as the two sides of the same coin. The importance of innovation is unquestionable. However, it cannot succeed simply by brainstorming behind closed doors but rather by analyzing years of accumulated industry insights. It not only requires building industry insights but, more importantly, innovating starts from understanding customers. In the increasing competition, innovative entrepreneurship is a challenge that both startups and large companies must regard as a new battlefield and adopt a new mode of thinking and action.
Innovation-oriented entrepreneurship is a type of entrepreneurship that governments have vigorously promoted in recent years because it can drive economic growth, create job opportunities, and increase national competitive strength. However, the global industrialization trend of innovative entrepreneurship has intensified competition to the point that the amateur mentality can no longer cope and must develop towards professionalism. Nowadays, many industrial changes are not driven by new technologies but by customers. Only by understanding customers can we effectively innovate. Making good use of system tools, continuously verifying assumptions, and iteratively moving forward are the ways to break through in a changing environment.
Two sides of the same coin
Innovative entrepreneurship is the process of value creation, value delivery, and value capture. The so-called "innovation" is an idea with commercial value. The key lies in "value." Relying solely on "invention" or "research and development" (R&D) is not enough. It must attract customer recognition and have customers who are willing to purchase and use it. This way, the company can "get" value and form a complete commercialization process.
The importance of innovation is unquestionable. Besides startup teams that need to innovate, large companies also benefit from premium "innovation." In response to many environmental pressures, companies focus on innovation to stay relevant. According to the report "Corporate Longevity: Turbulence Ahead for Large Organizations" by the Innosight Consulting Group1, the average lifespan of S&P 500 companies in 1965 was 33 years. In 1990, it had reduced to 20 years. The average lifespan is expected to shrink to 14 years by 2026. In this "becoming irrelevant" crisis, innovation has become the top priority for enterprises.
New trends have made large enterprises and startups become an integral part of innovative entrepreneurship. In addition, technology is developing at a faster rate. As a result, all companies need to strike a balance between operating today's business and creating tomorrow's business. Under the pressure of digital transformation, this dilemma has become very apparent. Large companies need innovation to meet market demand faster while startups actively seek enterprise resources such as "Corporate Venture Capital" (CVC) to expand their business and discover new business opportunities. Regardless of whether they are a new startup or a large enterprise, the future winners are those who can combine both advantages, utilizing the efficiency of a large enterprise and the innovative ability of a startup.
Building industry insights and innovating starts from understanding customers
The importance of innovation is unquestionable. However, it cannot succeed simply by brainstorming behind closed doors but rather by analyzing years of accumulated industry insights. These insights will tell you where the future value pools are. For example, many businesses claim that they understand customers. But in many cases, they often fall into one-dimensional technical thinking, believing that as long as they continue to strengthen their technology and produce products, someone will pay the bill. They don't understand the "value pool" changes caused by disruptive technologies and new business models. As a result, they don't understand the differences in customers’ buying behavior. Even if they invest a great deal of time and money in product development, companies that do not plan well will encounter the dilemma of having no customers.
According to "The Top 12 Reasons Startups Fail," published by CB Insights in August 20212, we can summarize that no product-market fit, lack of funds, and not the right team are the most critical factors of startup failures. Companies and startups must first understand customer pain points and needs, and then propose solutions that customers are willing to buy to achieve product-market fit.
A systematic approach to verify hypotheses and move forward iteratively
In the face of dramatic changes, the methodology provides a set of systematic implementation practices. Based on past practical experiences and academic theories, we have developed a set of systematic tools for "Customer Development Edge (CDE)." In TAcc+ (Taiwan Accelerator Plus), entrepreneurship coaches use this set of tools to coach startups. They teach these startups ways to systematically explore and collect customer feedback, verify hypotheses, establish a "Problem-Solution Fit," and propose the value proposition that solves customers' pain points and needs. Besides helping startups, this set of CDE tools is also applicable to the internal innovation of enterprises. It provides an end-to-end solution for them, offers suitable methods and tools, and establishes a "Product-Market Fit." These tools aid companies in innovation and transformation when dealing with critical and strategic challenges.
Many companies mistakenly think that innovation is a "clearly defined process." When they define "innovation," they often use the term "innovation process," which is a linear process similar to a production line. However, experienced corporate innovators know that this is far from the truth. Innovation is not a set of fixed processes but a process of practicing "disciplined entrepreneurial spirit” (Entrepreneurship), which is an iterative advancement of continuous verification of hypotheses.
Every innovation journey begins with many hypotheses, including the customer, the value proposition, the ability to create, deliver and capture value, the scalability and economic feasibility of the business model, etc. Teams must use rigorous scientific methods to verify these hypotheses. However, not all verification results will be the same as the original hypothesis. When that time comes, it's time to take a step back, modify the hypothesis, and run a new experiment.
In the increasing competition, innovative entrepreneurship is a challenge that both startups and large companies must face. It not only requires entrepreneurial thinking but, more importantly, a disciplined course of practice. Therefore, to enhance its competitiveness, Taiwan must regard innovative entrepreneurship as a new battlefield and adopt a new mode of thinking and action.
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