Let me make one thing clear. I love entrepreneurs. I admire their creativity, ingenuity, and perseverance. I have stood in their shoes as we built out Innosight’s core business and explored new geographies and offerings. I have also funded many entrepreneurs through our company’s venture investment arm.
I am writing today, however, to praise corporate innovation.
Right now start-ups have undeniable sex appeal. If you ask twenty-somethings where they could go to have an impact, they will tell you a start-up. They have read the stories of Andrew Mason from Groupon and Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, peers who have created billions of dollars in value. Having a movie made about your start-up? Sexy. Joining a faceless corporation manned by drones? Not so sexy.
But let’s deal with the reality of entrepreneurship. Sure, there are entrepreneurs like Mason or Zuckerberg who win big. But the vast majority of new businesses fail. Further, while some start-ups legitimately have the potential to change the world, many more are fast followers looking for a “quick flip.” That may be sure motivation for the financially oriented but it sure sounds like “selling out” to me.
Scott D. Anthony is managing director of Innosight Asia-Pacific.