Lab Notes

The Art and the Fear of New Business Creation

Let’s talk about hybrid business models – traditional businesses that, in order to continue thriving, embrace a ‘competitive’ model that’s rising to threaten their legacy business.

Why would any organization do this? Simply put – at the current pace of change (business, social, technology, you name it) all business creators have to be thinking about what’s next or risk being left behind. And because of this, you should be afraid.

Five years ago, apps were something you found on restaurant menus. Over 50 billion downloads later, the App Store has seismically shifted distribution and consumption of software. Entire economies now run on the utility provided by our mobile devices and the apps powering them.

But for every App Store, there are countless product failures. Fear of being one more failure is understandable, but sitting still is simply not an option, even for currently successful business models. It’s a simple choice really, create or fade away. We prefer to create, but we do so smartly.

So in the face of being understandably afraid, how can your company smartly take risks to find and serve new market needs, validate assumptions about what customers want, and iterate until getting a solution that works?

10,000 Ways Not to Make a Lightbulb

Edison once said that he had discovered ‘10,000 ways that will not work’ to make a lightbulb. In other words, creators have to accept failure as part of a learning process.

At the core of our belief system, GoKart Labs is all about taking calculated risks placing intelligent bets that teach us how to move forward. We believe in betting the garden, not the farm. While doing so, we build understanding of the marketplace, user behaviors, and technologies involved.

For example, we helped Capella transform education when we invented Sophia.org and, subsequently, sold it to Capella Education in 2012. Today, students can start earning college credit at a dramatically reduced cost through Sophia.org.

Had Capella simply gone about its business without paying attention to ‘what’s next’ AND taking action, another online competitor would have certainly solved the low-cost entry model first.

Innovation is Not a Magical Accident

Let’s look at the art (yes, I said art) of creation – coming up with something new for your organization that transforms the way it does business (and creates a roadmap for long-term success). Some call this art ‘innovation’ which is often thought of as some kind of magical accident.

What happens when a guy eating chocolate runs into a woman eating peanut butter? The ‘accident’ results in peanut butter cups – an innovation in the candy world, right?

We prefer to think of innovation as the result of a whole lot of intention and practice. When you spend your time practicing the art of creation and invention, you begin to see that there’s a repeatable method behind successful new ideas or products.

That’s why we’ve worked tirelessly to create the invention culture at GoKart Labs – to help our clients take calculated risks to create meaningful paths forward for their businesses.

To do this we blend four separate practice areas:

  1. Strategy and Innovation
  2. User Experience and Design
  3. Web and Mobile Software Development
  4. Digital Marketing and Analytics

We provide a unique combination of talent that spends a huge part of their day practicing their craft. Our Iteration Zero service offering is the result of years of practice – from inventing our own products and platforms like Sophia.org, co-inventing digital platforms for clients like Mayo Clinic, Jostens & Aveda and through exercises like our GoKart 600 where we invent, design, develop and launch an ‘idea’ in a single day.

With any activity that requires practice, a coach can be incredibly helpful. Think of GoKart Labs as a creation and invention coaching resource. We’ll help you practice the art of creation, guiding your team and co-inventing models, products and platforms that will help your business grow. Best of all, we’ll do it by betting the garden and not the farm.

Could you use help embracing a competitive business model, or inventing a new product or service offering? We’d love to help put our years of invention experience to work for you.

A.J. Meyer has spent his career starting, inventing and creating businesses. He loves looking at problems from new angles… rolling up his sleeves, digging in and, where necessary, connecting talent to bring ideas toward flawless execution. He writes and shares articles across a range of digital business topics.

Blazing the cyber trail for over 15 years, AJ broke the seal on many online tactics, techniques and technologies that are now industry standards. His constant analyzing and asking questions is part of his DNA and, by association, has defined GoKart culture; by turning that introspective tendency to interactive strategy and architecture, he maintains his status as a pioneer (minus the Wild-West aroma).