I’ve talked at length over the years about the importance of innovation and differentiation for startups and that creating a competitive edge, or moat, is imperative for sustainable success. I’ve been consistent that this leg up on the competition doesn’t always need to be technology advancements or “mad science” only via hardcore intellectual property (IP), patents, deep machine learning and artificial intelligence, etc. I’ve written about being the most prepared person in the room, the criticality of deep market research and what makes a great entrepreneur.
The Different Ways To Innovate
When it comes to innovation, It can certainly be legal like those patents or some brand or name or tagline oriented trademarks (all potentially smart and important) but those things simply outline publicly your special product/platform/brand magic and competition will skirt around them to compete. Most startups are founded by industry experts and technologists thinking “product out,” so this is certainly why so many focus on the IP and technology as their competitive edge.
There is a different type of innovation that is also an equalizer and accelerator – and it is what being a creative entrepreneur is all about. Innovation can and should occur on the business and customer side as well. Innovating on business models, customer engagement, GTM motions, user experience, community building, pricing and packaging, partnerships and interrelations, brand building, thoughtful M&A, team structures, incentives and compensation plans, culture and office space can all play a major role in your companies unique scaling blueprint. GTM, brand and community are our specialties at York IE.
There’s Only One You
That’s right, back to the above, I said UNIQUE because no matter the pattern repetition your VCs may see in your startup, you are a snowflake and a one of a kind delicate flower. There are always folks to watch (thus, our obsession with market research) but copying never wins over the long haul. Entrepreneurs need to remember that although fundamental principles exist in business and certainly in SaaS startups, with benchmarks aplenty they must focus on numero uno as their market, product, team, approach is there’s and there’s alone. Try things, expose what makes you a force, turn those knobs and levers, experiment and make it count. Be you in a sea of others playing their own game.
Ensure to research your market, be the most prepared company and person in the room. Be a trailblazer and disruptor in your industry. It’s why we at York IE are so committed to helping startups strengthen their foundation and establish horizon planning on their path to realize their grand vision. Innovate everywhere. We’re here to help!