How to identify innovation? We at Fulton Waters have a daunting role to play in business development acceleration. We validate 1000s of companies in order to identify the truly innovative businesses that we consider differentiated enough to work with. Now, innovation has taken many a form recently, with its definition varying according to who you speak with. Companies are on the lookout for a particular type of innovation, start-ups want to be a particular type of innovation and we look out for companies that are going to change the way the world functions.
It’s definitely not a simple task. The task gets more challenging when companies are differentiated by very small but significant aspects. Below are a few guidelines that we keep in mind when studying the latest in the early stage space to identify potential opportunities.
What I really love about what I do is that I am aware of the key aspects of any industry – AI, security, insights, real estate, e-commerce, customer service – take your pick. Having this knowledge helps you understand the space better and aids in spotting the minute nuances and differentiators that you might have missed otherwise.
Look at the past as well as predicted trends for the specific market vertical. Where has it been and where is it heading? Is there an amount of conversation that is enough to pique your interest or is there so much that it’s now the latest me too conversation topic? This will help in identifying where specific companies could potentially be in the coming years and how, if at all, far ahead of the curve they are.
Are similar companies repeatedly getting funded? This could again provide some insight into how ahead of the curve companies actually maybe – too many similar businesses being funded could potentially mean that the trend may not be upcoming, but has in fact peaked.
Traction aside, studying the current clients of start-ups could also aid in identifying how differentiated they may be. Are their clients companies that are known to be on the forefront of change or are do they adopt the more tried and tested route?
Talking to professionals with the relevant expertise not only augments your knowledge in the space but also gives you an idea where the industry is heading. Forward thinking conversations could help you look at the market not over the next 6 months, but over the next 5 years. This helps in forecasting specific areas of focus and recognizing which companies are slated to fill that upcoming void.
Founders and CEOs
Now each Founder and CEO will have their own reasoning to highlight specific points of their company’s differentiation and their view on where their market is heading. Talk to one, get a perspective; talk to three, get a vague idea; talk to five – you can form your own opinion basis multiple conversations with people are live, breathe and sleep the market you’re exploring.
Now, I have to admit, these are not foolproof ways to identify and gauge the innovativeness of any company, but they do work in making the task easier. We at Fulton Waters identify, curate and work with companies that are the face of innovation in their particular fields, making it easier for you to identify truly innovative opportunities.