Of innovation, innovators and lagging readers…

I am trying an experiment today, as much because I can as because of need but also just to see. I’ve been chasing out some issues lately, and I am focused today on seeing in fact if my theory is correct. The first thing is the order of posting. I have been posting on one of my two blog sites first for the past couple of weeks, just to see if my initial theory is correct.

So far, that initial theory is in fact correct. But sadly there isn’t anything I can do about that reality. It is what it is. Blogs are a lot like dogs. If you have a dog, it owns you. Or in my world, I believe that dogs are family members, not something you own. Based on that reality, it is really important that you treat the dog as a family member.

In the past 11 months, I have talked to and worked with 22 different Kickstarter and Indiegogo Campaigns. For the most part talking to them about a realistic TAM. TAM is the total addressable market that any one device can actually each. No, you cannot say your TAM is 100%. In part because at a 100% TAM the US, EU, and other large economic groups would start coming after you as a monopoly. Secondly, no one gets 100% of a market. The best you can hope for on a first run basis is 100% but that blue ocean reality isn’t as likely. Plus, it would only apply to your first run, all later runs would have smaller and smaller share.

I won’t bore you with the process to arrive at a proper TAM. It is quite long, tedious and frankly boring. What I will tell you is that success with any innovation involves being honest not only with what is possible but also with when it is possible.

In my book on innovation, I talked a lot about the concept of creating an innovative idea. The concept of the book was that the reality of innovation and innovators has changed in the past ten years. When I started my IT career (after leaving public school teaching), innovators tended to work for the R&D group of large companies. In so doing, they were able to do two things. First, they were able to learn the ins and outs of the manufacturing process. They were also able to have an organization focused on making money determine the potential TAM.

It was not a perfect system and it began failing. Innovators were frustrated by the slow rate of movement by large R&D departments. Crowd-funding pushed them out of the nest and into the wild. But in many cases, the baby bird innovators hadn’t yet learned to fly. They didn’t understand the manufacturing reality, and they didn’t understand TAM. They pushed their dreams out via Crowdfunding sites and in many cases waited for a miracle.

The Miracle wasn’t going to happen. That meant they were stuck. Dreamers don’t like moving towards their dreams, and the avenues were no longer open. So they went to a new crowdfunding site and tried again. This time they stopped, they listened, and the didn’t assume the miracle would happen. The found the Superbackers in the space they were in and got them involved and engaged beforehand. They, the Superbackers on Indiegogo and Kickstarter actually can drive eyes, potential backers and provide excellent guidance and advice.

I have to say this new market is interesting, exciting and fun to be a part of, rather than waiting for a large company to release the next big thing! Seeing the creators build and deliver the next big thing is a lot more fun.

Seeing the TAM of a small device blossom and become something viable is impressive. I was very happy with the original Pebble Watch. I saw that crowdfunding success grows into a company. Sadly, they sold that dream to Fitbit, but the idea was still strong. The innovation ended up having a market and being a successful dream.

Sometimes that is all you can hope for.


innovation dreamer