A Publication of WTVP

On a weekly basis, we hear and sometimes see hundreds of ideas. We also hear and see several unique business strategies. In the business of commercializing innovations, we have to ask ourselves the key question: Can a business be built around this idea?

Prior to writing this segment, I went out and did some research on why start-ups fail. Here are some of the reasons from the experts: poor execution, no plan, hope as a strategy, field of dreams (if we build it, they will come), no viable market, too little capital, too much capital, competing with the 800lb gorilla (market leader), limited market, wrong management team, no sales infrastructure, growing too fast, etc.

Ultimately, after having met with hundreds of entrepreneurs and reviewing the experts’ opinions, it appears that following the principles of business is the key determinant in the success or failure of a start-up business. The reasons start-ups fail are: failure to plan, failure to execute, and failure to adapt. A successful business must develop a business plan, execute the plan and alter the plan when the market dictates.

Sridhar Deivasigamani, CEO of Intellihot Green Technologies, a tenant and client of the Bradley Technology Commercialization Center at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center, shares his story:

While we had the fundamentals on why our idea would become a great product and even a working prototype, the venture was lacking the critical momentum that every great idea needs in order to turn into reality. Clearly this momentum and subsequent critical velocity was achieved only after moving into the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. Simply attending other peoples’ pitches to investors at Peoria NEXT revealed a lot about how and why some businesses are successful and others not. In fact, without the business plan refinement we received through Bradley’s Technology Commercialization Center, we would still be headed down the wrong path.

A bright idea is just a starting point in becoming a successful company. Several other facets of the business are required to ensure success. Early exposure to raising capital, marketing and sales advice from Bradley’s Technology Commercialization Center allowed us to plan creatively towards market entry. While it is possible for an individual to get access to individual elements of starting a business elsewhere, the critical momentum is only possible when all these facets are available quickly and in one place. Momentum is necessary because all new ideas have a finite shelf life and window of opportunity.

The talented and committed staff at Bradley’s Technology Commercialization Center at Peoria NEXT brings the essential skills and knowledge that are required for every start-up to build this momentum. Another benefit of being in the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center: You are surrounded by other entrepreneurs who share a similar burning desire for success that allows for sharing of ideas and resources. Needless to say, it is of little surprise that companies that start in an incubator setting have a significantly higher chance of success.

The following are a few recommendations on how to successfully commercialize your idea:

Protect your innovation and identify your intellectual property (IP). Evaluate what patents already exist and protect your idea before you begin to publish or publicly discuss it, or you may waive your future patent rights. You may wish to consult an IP attorney for further counsel.

Ensure there is a market. Interesting ideas and solutions may not always address an existing market need. Products or services with no customers do not turn into successful enterprises. Ideas and innovations that originate from a deep understanding of a valid market are much more likely to succeed.

Understand your customer. Before you begin on your journey to start a company, speak with your potential customers and develop a strong “go-to-market” strategy. You can then write your business plan around this strategy.

Focus your R&D on the market need. Design your research and development with your market need in mind. Demonstrating and validating your commercial viability with solid data will reduce your risks and make your innovation more attractive to angels, venture capitalists and top-notch management talent.

Remember the 3 Ps. Publish, present, and promote your work once you have protected your intellectual property. By doing so, you will attract potential customers, partners, investors and employee talent to your company.

Build a strong team. Know what you don’t know, and hire the talent in those areas to ensure your success. Successful entrepreneurs are resourceful and get help when and where they need it.

Get the community behind you. It takes a village to raise an innovation. The Peoria NEXT initiative was developed to provide an entrepreneur-friendly community to nurture the diversity of the regional economy.

Capital, capital, capital. Access to capital is one of the most critical elements of commercializing innovations. Without community angel money and the attraction of venture capital networks, the commercialization of innovative ideas is just that—an idea.

In the business of innovation, don’t forget the business. iBi