A very simple model for innovators


Once upon a time you needed to be a big company, with research and marketing departments and lots of money in order to find out what people wanted and give it to them.

That’s not the case any more.

The big companies that sat between creators and consumers are disappearing, as the internet makes it easier for people who want a thing to find the people who make that thing.

But, we still have barriers in many places.

Take innovation inside an organisation, for example.

If someone wants to improve a process or a particular way of doing things – can they just do it, or do they need to go through other people first?

How many layers are involved? Does IT need to install the software needed? Does a manager need to approve time to work on the idea?

Approval processes and managers rarely come up with cool new things. IT departments, which should be enablers, often become blockers.

People messing about with ideas and trying to make them work do.

There is a very simple test to see if an innovation has potential.

And that is – does someone else want it?

Whether we’re trying to improve an excel application, create a new product for our customer base or set up a new startup – if we make a thing that someone else wants, then we’re on the track to somewhere.

Will we make any money?

Possibly – perhaps not in the way many people think.

New revenue models are popping up all the time. For creators, Jack Conte created Patreon, a platform that allows people that make stuff to get paid through membership subscriptions.

He did that because money from adverts on platforms like YouTube were plummeting.

So.. if someone wants the thing you make, there is probably a way to make money from it.

At YCombinator, the startup incubator, this idea has become a mantra.

Make something people want. Don’t worry too much about making money.

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