Failure is not a Gift

Every time I host visits to the innovation hubs in the world with nexxworks, be it in the US, China or elsewhere, I get asked the question what my key takeaways are and how I will use those in business. However interesting a new piece of technology, a new app, a new platform or a new business model may be, I strongly believe it is the overall ‘vibe’ of the tour you really take home.

European Questions

Every single participant I went on tour with was flabbergasted with the enormous possibilities, both technologically and financially, these innovation hubs have to offer to themselves, their employees and their customers. In Silicon Valley for example, bright young kids proudly talk about their new devices, platforms, advanced appliance of AI or the use of robots and we listen breathlessly to their jaw-dropping displays of genius. At the dinner table, the feasibility of the startups’ plans is discussed and a lot of ‘European questions’ are raised on ROI, budgets, planning and so on. Those who are directly responsible for innovation in their organizations, are usually deeply jealous of the nearly absurd investment potential and the wonderful lack of risk aversion with investors there which they suffer from so dramatically back home. The Innovation Tours show us that we have to watch out with these European questions. It’s one thing to be critical, but a very different one to let these ‘fears’ come in the way between you and your future.

Feel the Vibe

As the week progresses, so do the insights. Five days of visits to startups, accelerators, scale-ups, IPO’d companies and innovation centers of established organizations does that to you. and let’s not forget about the numerous inspiring talks by our academic and business speakers that add visionary and practical context to the rest of the program. Realization comes that – in business and specifically in innovation – it is the HOW that matters most and not the WHAT. Every single speaker displays a CAN-DO mentality: they all believe in their dream, their ultimate goals. You really need to be there to experience that wonderfully energizing VIBE. To feel the enthusiasm. The absolute belief. These are people that don’t just “do” business; they endeavor to help humanity in one way or another.

Failing is not an option

It is this experience, this emotion, that lingers on. A spirit of not giving up, of getting back up on your feet when things go wrong. Now mind you, I am definitely not saying that failure is regarded as a gift! Contrary to the popular story these days, the very competitive environment that characterizes the Valley does NOT admire failing startups. And there is no way you can get venture capitalists to invest in yet another adventure UNLESS you can clearly demonstrate the big learnings you got out of your first fiasco. People at startups there work hard, extremely hard. It is no wonder that most of their venues have everything it takes to spend most of your day (and sometimes night). Getting the company to a success is what keeps them practically busy 24 hours a day. The adrenaline can literally be felt and it is precisely this adrenaline which allows our travelers to cope with the mere exhaustion after five packed days.

Key Takeaway

There will always be as many takeaways as there are participants to our tours, but if there is one piece of advice I want to offer, it is this: take a few days off after going through an experience like this. It will help you ‘land’ after this rollercoaster, give birth to your own ideas and paint your path forward.