Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Do Lean Startups Mean Less IP?

Published

on

Can principles of management impact on the creation of IP? The question has taken on potentially greater significance with the ever-increasing emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship and the search for the best ways to manage such activities. Within this context, there are few managerial notions that have attracted more attention than Eric Ries’s notion of lean start-ups. As set out in his 2011 best-selling book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, here, Ries argues that product development cycles can be significantly shortened by adopting “validated learning.” The idea is to put the customer’s needs as the focus of product development rather than adopting what has been described as a Field of Dreams approach—“build it and they will come”, here. Under this view, the emphasis is on constant iteration of trying to find out what customers really want. As described in The Economist (“Tech Start Ups: A Cambrian Moment”, January 18, 2014):

“involves building something [in the world of Ries, a minimum viable product that is used to ascertain consumer interest],measuring how users react, learning from the results, then starting all over again until they reach what is known as “product-market fit.”

The claim is that the constant process of iteration enables the startup to remain lean by
“eliminat[ing] wasteful practices and increas[ing] value producing practices during the product development phase so that startups can have a better chance of success without requiring large amounts of outside funding, elaborate business plans, or the perfect product.”

In the world of Ries, where almost anything “can be made”, the real question is not “can it be built?’, but rather “should it be built?” In support of this “lean” function, a form of “accounting for innovation” has been developed, which requires the entrepreneur to maintain detailed records of their iterative activities and to analyze how they impact on “meaningful metrics” that measure the innovation function. Not surprisingly, a cottage industry has grown up around this so-called “lean movement”, including over 1,000 “lean-startup” groups, an organization (Lean Startup Machine) that offers workshops, tools to chart a company’s “lean” performance, all of this augmented by related printed materials, YouTube presentations and the like.

Before considering how lean startup approach may impact on IP, it is important to consider forms of push-back that have been expressed, as suggested by the piece in The Economist. First, there is a psychological dimension. Entrepreneurship is often described as a journey in following one’s passion, even when no one else buys into your notion. But the lean startup approach has built into it the need to constantly admit that you may be wrong (so wrong that, in the lexicon of the field, one should “pivot”, meaning scrapping the current product idea and starting over). In the word of Joel Gascoigne, an adherent to the approach, “as an entrepreneur you’re meant to be bullish about your opinion. But leans means that you constantly remind yourself that you could be wrong.”

Another criticism can be bundled under the claim that lean startups are not really acts of entrepreneurship, but merely the disciplined activities of “empiricists who try to find a profitable niche.” As such, there is inherently in the lean approach a very low ceiling for innovative potential. As venture capitalist Scott Nolan observed,

“lean provides a useful toolkit, but it can bias you towards the incremental rather than the transformational. You cannot simply iterate your way into orbit.”

Ries himself seems to acknowledge that the lean approach can lead to “analysis paralysis” if not properly applied (though this is an occupational hazard of any approach that is heavily driven by metrics and the responses to them). A more general criticism, which applies both the lean approach and the current world of startups more generally, was expressed by consultant Venkatesh Rao, who argues that what is happening is less about fostering the next world-beating startup and more about creating the managerial framework in which today’s knowledge workers can flourish. In his view, this process is analogous to what Rao claims happened to artisan steelworkers at the end of the 19th century, as their skills were commoditized, the goal being to create a reliable and productive working class with the requisite knowledge.

So what about IP? At a certain risk of generalization, this author wonders whether the lean approach, if it becomes the norm for a critical mass of knowledge workers, may dampen the conditions by which innovation and invention take place. The suggestion that startup activity should be aspiring to a form of assembly line for knowledge workers, engaged in constant empirical iterations in the search of “the product”, would seem to narrow the scope for the kinds of creations and inventions that are the staple of IP rights. Incrementalism has its place, but it should also have its limits, lest it have a pernicious dampening effect on the ability of knowledge workers to continue to create and invent.

written by IPKAT team. IPKAT represents a team and platform passionate about all things IP. see more.

Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

Published

on

Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

Published

on

Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending