EXPERT Insight

Critical Questions When Launching Innovation Premium

Is the Team Right? Is It Time to Shift Gears?

Zenios, Stefanos

Date: Third Quarter 2016

Tags: innovation, professional end-user, startup, Silicon Valley, Startup Garage Innovation Process

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Professional end-users can provide vital knowledge to help companies identify market needs and develop new products successfully. Yet having professional users on a management team does not always guarantee success. In fact, they can sometimes bog down the innovation process. In this article, the author summarizes his findings on end-user involvement in the innovation process, based on his work at Stanford. From needs-finding to prototype development and testing, users are a critical part of the process. His research suggests where users are best utilized in the process and in what roles, and when may be the best time to transition from needs finding to prototype development and testing.

Tools and Frameworks:
> "Startup Garage Innovation Process" depicts the eight stages to launch ventures that can be applied to all business sectors.
> "The Impact of the End-User on a Startup" summarizes the effectiveness of professional end-users in various roles: as CEOs, as executives, as inventors and as board members.
> "Theranos: A Dearth of End-Users?" suggests how better placement of more professional end-users might have avoided the woes of this medical technology firm.

Examples Cited:

Trulia, DoorDash, SoFi, Bipsync, U.S. medical device and surgical instrument ventures, Theranos, Physician Payments Sunshine Act, financial adviser selling products to customers

Research Basis:
Based on a study of 235 surgical-instrument ventures selected from a comprehensive database of early-stage medical device startups funded by venture investors from 1979 to 2005 in the United States.

About the Author:
Stefanos Zenios is the Investment Group of Santa Barbara Professor of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at Stanford University.

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