Spark Partners continues December’s highlight of admirable and not-so-admirable innovators by looking at the mistakes companies have made by investing in the wrong innovations. Companies like Uber, Segway, and others with unique creations have gone wrong when they confused their value delivery system with their value proposition. Uber just gave up on their billion dollar investment on autonomous vehicles, an effort that never aided their value proposition. As cool as Segway was, no one had any use for it. Even the great winners in innovation, like Microsoft and Google, have lost by creating products that customers did not need (remember the Windows Phone and Google Plus?). So what’s the right investment?
We’ve said it before. You must know your customers and know their needs. You can’t create a solution without knowing the problem. Like Apple and Zappos, innovators need to give people what they need before they realize that they need it. This might be difficult for those with MBAs or experience in rigid organizations; you probably know how to run the business, but might be less inclined to be a risk-taking innovator. But even innovators can find businesses to work within both systemically and creatively. If you want to get rich, get to know your customers first, then create innovations.
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