An expert in disruptive businesses, the Brazilian entrepreneur teaches us how not to deal with technology as a magic ingredient that may botch a company.
Innovative ideas anchored in technology have been shown to be the trump card of start-ups to conquer space in markets dominated by large companies. This strategy has caused disruptures in the economy, changed consumer behavior and produced the phenomenon of the unicorns – start-ups whose value exceed a billion dollars.
The list is headed by large technology companies, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber, and Waze. They have emerged as models for entrepreneurs, and their roaring success contributed to creating the mystique of technology as a magic ingredient, capable of ensuring the success of an enterprise. Yes, innovation and technology are key ingredients for success, but they’re not magical.
Not to wreck on an innovative idea, it is important to note certain commandments of the business world. Check out the following key points for the success of an innovative business according to the Brazilian entrepreneur Arie Halpern, who created from e-channel duplicators to loyalty programs with embedded technology.
- Don’t lose sight of the real world
Inventions, although great, need to have applicability. Scientists or inventors are not always attentive to this aspect. This is what makes the role of the expert in marketing essential. He or she will transform the innovative technology into a viable product and find out where the consumers for that product are (including those who do not even know they need it), as well as promote it so that it is more easily accepted by the market. Only implement the project if there is a growing or promising market for the product.
- Consider protection against plagiarism
A matter of life or death for any business: Can its product or service be replicated easily? If the answer is yes, the invention is doomed to fail. To take the investment and effort ahead, the cost of market entry must be high.
- Have working capital
Genius alone does not pay the bills. So, in addition to good ideas, you need working capital to start a business. Without it, not even the most disruptive business will survive. A common mistake, motivated by the enthusiasm for the venture, is to believe that it is possible to finance the company with its first sales. Do not be fooled by this illusion. Be prepared to face lean times in the beginning until the product or service overcomes resistance and is adopted by consumers.
- Pay attention to the innovations acceptance curve
When launching a new business, bear in mind that the process of technology adoption has its own dynamics. It starts with a minority of consumers who pay to be the first. Later this group will swell successively with new layers of customers until it reaches the entire market potential. In the classic project of Everett Rogers, there are five successively categories of consumers: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. It is a decisive issue for the company’s strategy to know how long it will take for the product to go from one stage of this process to the next.
- Ensure the return to the investor
Carry out the financial planning taking into account the time required for the sales begin to compensate the investment. A brilliant idea has to generate results before investors break. Or else, the innovation, no matter how disruptive, is just charm.
- Speak the consumers’ language
If the basic script for launching an innovative product is observed, that is, it offers real benefits, has a competitive advantage and good value for money, is hard to be copied and has a market, an important part of the homework is done. There is another issue, however, just as important: communicate all this to the consumers. While they do not perceive the value of the product, the business does not take off.
- Test the product
Testing, testing, and testing are three crucial steps in the development of a product, according to the good innovator’s handbook. It is necessary to check how the target consumers will react to innovation. Even if the idea is good, it is important to be flexible and make adaptations that may facilitate the adoption of the innovation.
- Create a good team
The company has to be lean, avoiding unnecessary expenses. Right, but you can not do without a good team of collaborators. An effective and reliable team will make sure that the project has a good level of quality before reaching the consumer. Rather than a cost, this is an investment.
- Lead wisely
A creative and challenging environment assures the collaborators the freedom to oppose its founder’s opinion. Therefore it is necessary to know how to recruit people with critical ability to question, and emotional maturity to do it constructively. The leader’s feeling when recruiting is crucial to the future of a startup.
- Keep an eye on technological changes
A company that invests in disruptive technologies can not forget that the world of technology is subject to constant changes. It is necessary to maintain an information system that provides the top executives with a picture of technological trends, potential innovations, new concepts and systems, new raw materials and anything else that may affect the operation. This will prevent the innovative business from being dislocated by an unexpected disruption.
Get to know Arie Halpern
The Brazilian entrepreneur Arie Halpern has since early felt attraction for the risk, and taste for the innovation. In the early 1970s, being little over 20 years old, he focused on the map of Brazil’s exports and saw an opportunity in Africa. There he went to sell umbrellas and sunglasses. It was not what he had imagined, as the Chinese traders were already there practicing very competitive prices. Halpern decided, then, to focus on the North American market. He found a niche that earned him great businesses: to sell canned fruits – mango, guava, pineapple. To win the contracts, he had to pay his dues on convincing Brazilian manufacturers to adapt the product and packaging to the requirements of the US market. After this, Halpern’s taste for innovation found an auspicious field for technology-bound businesses. In Brazil, he developed the telephone channel duplicators that were used by all the phone companies to decongest the lines, which were not enough at the time.
As head of CTF Technologies, he revolutionized the supply system of vehicle fleets in Brazil. When he sold the business to a foreign partner, the company had more than 5 000 customers and processed the purchase of more than 3 billion liters of fuel per year. He transformed the company into a global leader in loyalty programs with embedded technology. After that, he developed a loyalty program for Petrobras – the Premmia – based on its own technology for collecting and managing the system at points of sale. He currently focuses on two products that have a disruptive potential in common. One of them is a dietary supplement for monogastric animals that takes the brand Tonisity, and that is initially being marketed to pigs. Pigs? Yes, a business that aims a flock of 1,2 billion animals worldwide. The other is Gauzy, a company that widened the application possibilities of glass. Equipped with liquid crystal film, this innovative glass can control the input of light, as well as turn into a surface for projection of images.