As entrepreneurs we are risk takers by nature, we shoot for the moon, and swing for the fences. But this attribute can also become our biggest weakness as it leads many entrepreneurs towards the path of frustration and eventual failure. We are all looking for the 10x technology advancement, but the reality is advancement comes in small increments.
True disruptive innovations do not happen overnight. Innovations are typically iterations of existing technologies that eventually hit a tipping point and lead to the next big thing. This is true for some of the largest companies in the world today including Apple with the iPhone and Google’s search engine. Behind the scenes these companies were truly great at specifically one thing, iterating quickly. Lots of small advancements when aggregated appear as one large 10x innovation.
Sertifi, my current company, is a good example of a company that participates in a market where small advancements in existing technologies lead to an innovation that changes the way we live and work. The SaaS market is an architectural change to a global client server network. How did this happen? Did it come from some brilliant overnight engineer who had an aha moment in the shower? Of course not, it was an iteration of the existing client server network that utilized advancements in other technologies such as broadband, advances in security and computing power
In addition to being a CEO of a SaaS company I am also an investor in many other companies leading the way towards innovation. My recommendation to them is always the same, based on your resources find a place in the market where a small incremental advancement can solve a large pain. For example, one investment is pursuing an exoskeleton market with a 100B Total Addressable Market (TAM), but early on had little traction. We redirected their efforts to focus on a very niche application where they are now selling their products to Navy Seals who are using the technology to run 3x faster when put in drop zones. Another investment is an autonomous technology that had great success adjusting their market to serve commercial carriers so that their aircraft can reliably and securely be flown from the ground.
The future is more exciting than ever, we are truly fortunate to be living in a time where each generation will experience significant improvements in technology specifically around how we work and play. It will take all of us working together making small steps that will eventually lead to 10x innovation.
As opposed to throwing the hail Mary pass, focus on small improvements and iterate fast.