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Entrepreneur Journeys v.4 : Innovation: Need Of the Hour Paperback – May 20, 2010
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While Wall Street’s gambling has brought the world economy to its knees and venture capitalists continue to act like bankers, innovators must have more conviction than ever before. While it is always important to be fearless—now is the time to be savvy.
In Innovation: The Need of the Hour, the fourth volume in the Entrepreneur Journeys series, entrepreneur and strategy consultant Sramana Mitra offers readers a multitude of ways to transform innovation into market leading businesses.
As in the previous volumes, she leads specific discussions on bootstrapping and shoestring innovation, which remain the most successful ways to circumvent early-stage funding challenges in order to maintain freedom and control. She turns to innovators in such fields as healthcare and cryptography, gleaning how they found pragmatic and profitable solutions using practical methodologies, such as consulting on intellectual property to generate cash flow. One thing is certain—the carnage of the world financial crisis can only be cleaned through innovation and polished by innovative entrepreneurs.
As you navigate your company through the entrepreneurship waters, this series continues to map the system for your success.
ForeWord Clarion Reviews:
“The time is now for ‘a system that rewards long-term, sustained effort in solving humanity’s biggest problems, not one driven by unbridled greed,’ Sramana Mitra writes in the fourth volume in her series on entrepreneurism. Her call to action asserts itself in the wake of the recent financial meltdown, and Mitra is resolute in her demand for increased innovation among entrepreneurs and ‘the value creator’s return to power.’ Despite a risk-averse economic environment, especially for venture capitalists, Mitra argues that the stranglehold on credit, equity investments, mergers, and other transactions that propel businesses is verging on hazardous because it ultimately squelches big ideas just when they are most needed.
At the core of Mitra’s ethos is a kind of American spirit that prizes optimism, resourcefulness, and in her words, ‘bootstrapping’ and ‘shoestring’ innovation. She believes that the best ideas, and very often, the most successful businesses, are not just those founded on great ideas or designs, but are those that respond to needs or problems. With her own background in engineering and computer science, Mitra seems especially keen on how these fields can be marshaled to address challenges in healthcare and cleantech. She’s also a believer in the role that academic institutions can play in fostering new entrepreneurs. Innovation: Need Of The Hour is constructed around interviews with leading innovators in all of these arenas. She frames the discussion with brief, analytical introductions, followed by her conversations with the entrepreneurs she deems exemplars. This format results in a quick, readable text that is made even more approachable by other design features that draw attention to key insights and advice along the way.
Mitra teases out background stories, educational paths, and the inspiration that preceded some of the businesses recognized as groundbreaking and foundational within their sectors. She and her subjects get into some detail, talking about how certain companies were launched and made profitable, but also about some of the pitfalls and hard lessons learned along the way. Ashar Aziz, for example, raised $100 million in startup money for this first company, which was then spent at breakneck speed, well before they were generating any revenue. His advice: ‘The higher the capital intensity, the greater the risk of ultimate failure.’
This kind of pithy advice is easy to come by in Mitra’s book, but it is grounded in a thoughtful discussion of the very process by which groundbreaking innovation actually occurs. Mitra’s prose style is clean, clear, and to the point—presumably a skill she has honed while writing her business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy, and writing a column for Forbes. Her latest book offers a window into the zest for creation and dogged perseverance at the core of so many successful startups. It lays out some ideas for putting unemployed engineers back to work, and it is a worthwhile read for savvy innovators who are considering going into business with their own big ideas.”
About the Author
More About the Author
She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant, she writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Sramana was a columnist for Forbes, and currently syndicates to numerous venues including Harvard Business Review and Huffington Post.
As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book also tackles innovation from a broader perspective of how should government, universities, investors and entrepreneurs work together on larger scale research initiatives that are beyond the means of a single entity is able to accomplish on its own.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship.
A particularly valuable characteristic of the books is that Mitra's own thinking on the theme of each book is organized into a clearly-structured argument which is then expressed in brief, lucid essays, which are themselves then amplified with really informative and productive interviews she conducts with successful entrepreneurs whose experience in the area discussed is instructive. I have found that these interviews are also filled with terrific and hard-won insight into more generally important - even vital - aspects of management, making these books a real treasure to read.
The latest in this series is certainly no exception. It builds on the overall trend of the arguments in the book series, which began by describing the entrepreneurial process, moved on to discuss core managerial approaches for succeeding with it, to - in the current book, "Innovation" - analyzing the importance of the entrepreneurial function itself to a vibrant, healthy economy. In this context, innovation as an economic activity that produces groundbreaking advances is the focus, rather than the incremental process-improvement form of innovation that many managers concern themselves with.
Both forms are vital to an intelligent, productive economy that supports a dynamic, forward-moving society.Read more ›
In Volume 4, Mitra structures the interviews around the central thesis that we have a societal need to innovate our way out of the challenges we face today. She digs deep into the past as well as finding more recent examples of the type of creativity that we can only hope will not be stifled by regulation and taxation. Once again, she hits lots of different industries, including Clean Tech, software, alternative energy, healthcare and many others. A feature that I like, given that I am an analyst who researches public companies, is that many of her interviews are with entrepreneurs who have taken their companies public. In this volume, she profiles several who may reach that achievement in the next couple of years but also Tom Leighton, one of the founders of Akamai (AKAM) and Jonathan Bush of athenahealth (ATHN).
The structure of the book allows the reader to progress as slowly or as quickly as he or she wishes. There are four main sections, each with 2-5 conversations. I was captivated, so I read it very quickly, but it's so compartmentalized that it could also be read over several weeks with the same impact to the reader.
As with the other volumes, Mitra's direction of the interviews adds a lot. I liked that she addressed some really big issues and tied that theme through the book. This volume too left me hopeful that we as a society can rise to meet the challenges of the big problems with energy, the environment, healthcare, etc. Hopefully, risk-taking will not be a victim of the Great Recession and Mitra can describe in one of her future works what great companies arose from the ashes.
1. Legendary Innovators
2. Innovators in Academia
3. Cross-Domain Innovators
4. Shoestring Innovators
On a Wikipedia Web page it is stated that innovation "may refer to an incremental emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations." I go along with this concept of innovation, and as such, believe writing a book about entrepreneurial innovation that comprises only 235 pages cannot really do the subject justice. And by merely stringing 13 interview sessions together it was impossible to do the subject justice.
The premise of the book is that the world, and America in particular, has been facing tough economic times since the start of 2008. The ability to obtain credit to fund a startup or grow an existing company has become incredibly difficult or even impossible. And since money is tight today, the number of people willing to start something that is risky to start (something innovative) is small. So with credit scarce and the number of people willing to create innovative companies small the world (and America) don't have much hope of jumpstarting a downed economy and creating lots of jobs for the underemployed and unemployed.
In years past the US has had more money and success in the business world than most other countries.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Entrepreneur Journeys v4 is just the book for our current economic times? Why? Because by being a practical guide to becoming an entrepreneur it can perhaps reorient the... Read morePublished on October 18, 2012 by Leigh Fitzpatrick
This book started out strong on the premise that we need to focus more on rewarding the inventor and less on rewarding the one selling the invention. Read morePublished on October 20, 2011 by ut158
I haven't read the earlier entries in the Entrepreneur Journeys series, but I have read Jessica Livingston's Founders at Work. Read morePublished on August 2, 2011 by Trevor Burnham
A sidebar interview with the author in a recent issue of "IEEE Spectrum" magazine made me aware of this "Entrepreneur Journeys" series of books. Read morePublished on July 9, 2011 by Erik Gfesser
Yes - there is coursework relating to becoming an entrepreneur, but of course you really either have it or don't. Read morePublished on March 26, 2011 by Delaney
I am an entrepreneur and this is as good of a book as any to share insights as to what it's like to be an entrepreneur as well as insights that may help current entrepreneurs or... Read morePublished on November 23, 2010 by Roberto
Innovation is mostly thought of as creative thing new ideas that bring about new ways of doing things. Read morePublished on October 22, 2010 by Eunice Nyandat
Volume 4 of Sramana Mitra's Entrepreneur Journeys series helped me most by inspiring me and giving me hope. Read morePublished on October 11, 2010 by Justin Mares