Even though the Dublin Tech Summit 2018 didn’t live up to the high standards it set itself for its impressive debut in 2017, there was still a number of talks that delivered good value. Here’s some of the insights shared that stayed with us.
Talks are always so much richer when a presenter is honest about their journey and doesn’t sugar-coat the challenges encountered along the way. Jason properly reflects on the ups and downs as a founder of scaling businesses.
He shared his learnings over the past 15 years of building four companies from scratch. He surprised us with an admission that “Almost all start up founders experience a deep and prolonged sadness after selling their company, even when the sale is an outrageous success.” He explained how inextricably linked founders are with their start up – it almost becomes part of their personal identity. So when you sell it, “a piece of yourself has been eviscerated, irrevocably.”
Jason referenced research done in Finnish universities which used brain scanning to uncover the connection between a father’s love for his child and an entrepreneur’s love for their company. They discovered that many of the same emotions, rewards and neurochemical processes were triggered in these two different test groups - which may help explain why entrepreneurs feel such devotion and pride in their businesses.
He also talked about the risk of burnout and entrapment for a founder as their start up scales and suddenly there are employees, and partners, and customers and maybe investors. After the excitement of creating something new, it can be hard to find the sweet spot between joy, skills and priorities as their responsibilities to others increase.
Next up was Sofie Lindblom, CEO of ideation360 with a catchy talk title “Avoid your Kodak Moment – How to Setup for Continuous Innovation”
She didn’t disappoint. She quickly delved into the mechanics of innovation and explained just how important it is to innovate in order to stay relevant in the future. A Kodak moment happens when an industry leader fails to adapt to changing market trends and ultimately loses out. Kodak refused to acknowledge relevance of digital cameras and filed for bankruptcy in 2011.
“It’s not as easy to walk the walk when it comes to innovation…To carve out time for the future is really important. It’s really about portfolio management.”
She also shared the importance of challenging assumptions to make sure they have a place in the market. She highlighted one particular product which I’d never heard of: “Lasagne created by Colgate” – surprisingly eating Italian dishes made by a toothpaste brand doesn’t tickle the taste buds. If they had cross-checked this innovative idea against Sofie’s guiding pillars of need, value, credibility and solution, they would have quickly recognised that credibility was not a box that was being ticked. Unsurprisingly the product was a flop.
When it comes to exercising innovation, she talked about a focused approach that Ideation360 adopted using the power of 5s (See slide below) By applying a set of 5 rules to the innovation process, she said the quality and creativity of the ideas in such a short space of time has been incredible. Ideation360 has now adopted this as a successful ideation form. Something we now intend to try in Artizan.
This was our first experience of hearing the YouTube Personality, Filmmaker/Vlogger and Entrepreneur with over 9.3 million subscribers. Interesting that Casey, like Gary Vaynerchuk the year before were the only speakers at the event that used no slides throughout their presentation. They are the presentation – their reputation naturally commands attention but sincerity and conviction of belief brings their content to life and justifies the large crowds. Work ethic and passion for what they do sit above everything else. It seems they both worked their asses off to earn their reputation and continue to work hard to maintain it.
Casey gave an honest account of his rise to fame, sharing the challenges and tough times along the way – his live storytelling is as compelling as the videos he creates.
It was also fun to see Keith Barry seize the moment at the end of a subsequent panel talk and ask Casey to think of a hash tag he’s never used before and write it down on a piece of paper. With repeated eye contact and a couple questions about colours and animals, Keith correctly guessed the hash tag: #octopus. Impressive.