Why being ahead of the boat in innovation can suck

The worst place to be in any business or startup is realizing you “missed the boat”. All of your ideas and subsequent efforts are aligned with a market dynamic that leaves you behind the curve.

There are many reasons and as many business analysts which can identify the exact moment and move, that then fit neatly into a SWOT report. Usually, it’s that an unseen competitor launches with dynamics that smoke you or a product development delay puts you under. Hindsight is easy to apply.

But what about being too far ahead of the curve and too early so that you are “ahead of the boat”? I saw a post from Product Hunt from Gary Vaynerchuk promoting PlateJoy– a healthy eating site that simplifies your dietary requirements, recipe creation and shopping list development service.

I had to reflect for a moment and went to check out  their site. It’s visually appealing, has full social media integration and all the usual integrative tools you would expect in 2016. Looks like they are on their way to long term success.

I went back to my file cabinet and flipped through my project files and opened up “My Cyber Chef” from 2004. I read over the business strategy and reviewed our partner strategies, value proposition and business model. Hmmm. It’s exactly the same.

We were just 12 years too early.

In 2004 the costs to build the site, database, newsletters etc. just to show an MVP cost me about 20 Large. Promoting to get first partners and customers took a ton of friction filled energy. We didn’t have the advantage of social media, Product Hunt, interconnected blogs, hashtags, accelerators and innovation hungry partners.

The project ran into problems with a business partner who thought they would like to rebrand the idea and run with it herself. I couldn’t afford to push the rope myself, so I let it go to the web business graveyard.

Luckily, we have a portfolio of business innovation concepts that are in motion today. We all have the advantages of a highly interactive marketplace, technologies and tools which are accessible to all. We have experience as entrepreneurs and a few successful opportunities.

One way we can help is to help manage disruptive innovation in terms of market readiness, or perhaps lend some contextual perspective to your idea. It’s rare that you might be too far ahead of the innovation curve, but my experience shows it happens.



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