When we think of home-run innovations, we conjure up visions of geniuses working alone in their garages. We often forget that these innovators have behind the scenes the right people and money that improves the likelihood of their success.
As I help innovators commercialize their new ideas, I’m getting a better understanding that in most situations knowing the right people outweighs getting a grant or accessing money to move the idea forward. In other words, often it’s the process of forming a partnership with the right people that will help the innovator move from an idea to a marketable product or service.
An article titled “Forget about the Mythical Lone Inventor in the Garage – real innovations happen in well-funded labs.” by Eric D. Isaacs (May 18th, 2012), explains that innovators are not all lone rangers. He notes that “the myth that innovative genius burns brightest in dingy isolation” leads innovators away from the markets, people and resources that influence their success. In fact, there are significant resources devoted to innovation, so that it does not have to be done in isolation. At the very basic level, it is the importance of relationships that move innovation forward.
In commercializing new ideas, often the person has an idea to solve a problem or improve upon a situation. They can see their idea fitting into an industry or on a ‘store shelf’. Without a business background or skills, they may not know to run the business that would make the idea, product or service available to customers.
When we work with innovators, we are asking more questions about where the idea fits in respect to business operations. If the innovator is not knowledgeable about business, we suggest that they explore a partnership with a business person to help take the idea into the marketplace.
If angel investors have a sense that the innovator needs more business experience, the angel may choose to play a bigger role than just investing money. They may want to enter into a partnership and highly influence the business operations, processes and decisions.
For other innovators, their strategy maybe more straight forward where they sell the idea to a business person that adds it to their product lines. Here the innovator is not ‘going into business’ but rather selling some intellectual property, proto-type or new product asset.
If you do not have experience in running a business and you are looking for Angel Investor, consider an investor who can also be a business coach or the operating business partner with knowledge in your product development field. With their help, you should be prepared to bring on additional angel investors as required.