DigitasLBi is on the ground at SXSW! We'll be live-tweeting, snapping photos, and recapping sessions for the next few days: follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Flickr for more insights. Plus check out our own speakers and sessions here.
Friday afternoon’s session at SXSW, “Always be Innovating: Thinking Like a Startup”, posed the question, “how is it that start ups can launch a new product in a matter of months, when it takes most companies just as long to make updates to their website?” In addition to not having years of entrenched bureaucracy, startups have a culture of innovation that allows them to be nimble and make decisions quickly.
Corporations do have one big advantage over the nascent startup, however, because they are more likely to have the resources to subsidize a startup program without being distracted by fundraising efforts. But it goes beyond funding. Establishing a culture of innovation is key, and it must be driven by the passion and the vision of the founder and extend to all employees. It's the founder who lays out the company’s mission and shows a motivation for creating something amazing, not simply making money. A business leader must be unshackled from their day-to-day responsibilities to foster this type of culture.
In addition, startups approach product development in a unique sequence: first they create the product, then scale it, and then finally begin to profit from it. This can be anachronistic for most organizations that have a very short window for which they need to show positive financial results. For startups, the benchmark for success isn't always profitability—instead, it might be measured by relevant metrics such as the number of daily active users.
Finally, startups understand that timing is everything. They understand how critical it is to have a product with market fit at the right time and not miss their window. This is especially true of technology, where cycles are vicious and a new category can go from the early adopter stage to mainstream—and then evaporate completely—in just 18 months. That's something that every company, big or small, should always keep in mind.
Written by Tony Bailey, VP/Group Director, Technology Lead, DigitasLBi Chicago and San Francisco