It Doesn’t Have to be New: Focus on How it’s a Creative, Valuable Adaptation

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When you’re pitching your new idea, remember the idea itself doesn’t have to be new; what makes it valuable to the customers and investors is that it’s a creative adaptation.

Most innovations are not the result of the “solitary genius” who has a EUREKA moment. Rather others have worked on related problems and generate ideas that you’re creatively compiling into a new adaption. Steve Jobs created the iPod after several other companies created MP3 players; but he found a new way to design and market its ability to put a 1000 songs in your pocket. Similarly, the first Apple computer was inspired by several things he saw at Xerox’s PARC – a laboratory of innovative ideas including: computer-generated bitmap graphics, a graphical user interface, a mouse and laser printers.  While they worked on the technology, he adapted it to the personal and business markets.

Another example is Kheyti, a company that is creating greenhouses for small farmers in India to adapt to climate change.  Large commercial farms use greenhouses to protect their crops. Their expense makes them unfit for the average Indian farmer (about 70% of families in rural India!) who own less than five acres of land, earn less than $3 a day and rely on farming for their livelihood.  A group of entrepreneurs received funding to create a”Greenhouse-in-a-Box” which helps these farmers adapt to drought conditioning by lowering temperatures so the plants require 90% less water. The greenhouses also require 70% less pesticide than traditional farming, reducing soil erosion. 

The point of any effective presentation pitch is to focus on explaining why your innovation, whether not or an adaption, improves the profitability, sustainability, resilience, longevity, etc. of your target market, and why investing it does the same for the investors. As we teach our clients: explain but don’t get obsessed with the technology ; instead focus on the audience’s needs and how well the adaptation satisfies them!