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Published 16 August 2012 05:01, Updated 16 August 2012 06:56
When you have an idea you think might be disruptive, there are ways to operate that could help you get where you want to go, the founder of technology incubator Pollenizer, Mick Liubinskas, says.
“You really need to play to your strengths – and your strength over the big guys is speed and focus, so you can’t beat the big guys by being bigger than them or having more money, or having more customers,” he says. “But you can move faster and you can be more focused.”
The joy of being small and nimble is the ability to try out ideas quickly. Be prepared for trial and error learning as you go. “If you’re going to disrupt something, you typically are doing something that not only have you never done before, but no one’s ever done before,” says Liubinskas. “So the reality is, you need to fail your way to success and the only way to truly fail and learn is to put something in front of a customer in a real way.”
Rather than investing in building expensive back-end technology, Pollenizer ventures have begun with transactions simply recorded in a spreadsheet or a form. With any potentially disruptive idea, there are likely many assumptions around it. The spreadsheet approach enables them to be tested quickly and cheaply. Liubinskas says his co-founder at Pollenizer, Phil Morle, refers to it as the “Wizard of Oz approach”.
“A customer doesn’t know what’s happening in the background, they just think it’s all magically happening, but you are just doing it all completely manually,” Liubinskas says. “We want to learn as much as we possibly can through manual testing, then once we know enough about what we should build, then we build it.”
Be prepared for a slog. “It’s hard because you are creating new value in a new way . . . but you get to be the first, you get to learn about this new space, doing it a new way and if you get it right, you can shake up some pretty big markets,” Liubinskas says.
And get ready for attacks – don’t expect incumbents to give up their positions without a fight. “If you want to spot a disruption, [look out for] organisations that are denigrating, denying or suing start-ups,” says Deloitte’s chief edge officer, Peter Williams. “These guys are being disrupted – their world is changing.”