“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” - Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter
Entrepreneurship is a fond dream of many professionals, particularly product innovators. It’s also a huge risk: statistics show that 8 in 10 new ventures fold within 18 months of launching. Many entrepreneurs watch helplessly as their dreams and savings crumble in the face of constant rejections and the stress of staying afloat.
The fact is, while you may start a business to innovate, during the early months, it is a battle to survive. While they may have the engineering know-how to implement their product idea, the majority of startup founders lack the business acumen and financial tools to succeed. So what is a product innovator to do in these circumstances?
Incubators: Speed up Growth, Guide To Success
Incubators are hubs of support for startup innovators that provide the motivation, business and sometimes, financial support that are essential for startups to ride the crests and troughs of the early months. These ecosystems have come a long way since Joseph Mancuso setup the world’s first incubator in a warehouse in New York in 1959. Today, over 7000 incubators thrive around the world, supported by universities, business schools, research centers and corporates. Some incubators such as Y Combinator in Mountain View – the startup home of Dropbox and Airbnb – have been so successful that investors fight to invest in their mentees.
Incubator Focused on Product Innovation
The Institute of Product Leadership has an aim to build a million product innovators in India. Towards this goal, the institute fosters incubator programs for product innovators through a variety of activities and programs. Prime among them is the first of its kind “Product Labs” program – a learn-as-you-go, innovate-as-you-learn experiential program that all of IPL’s EMBA students go through.
Through Product Labs, participants are encouraged to think of innovative solutions to problems they’ve encountered. Product teams are formed in the cohort, akin to startup founder teams. IPL faculty members – Product Managers, entrepreneurs and industry veterans themselves – mentor teams as they build their product idea step by step. Eminent jury members from industry visit the campus periodically over the course of the program, reviewing and evaluating the work of the teams. Several IPL alumni have gone on to establish companies based on the product idea they developed in Product Labs. IPL has provided the forum for these innovators to pitch their business plans to angel funders and secure funding as well.
Backing this innovation ecosystem is the rigorous curriculum that all EMBA students go through. For instance, the Idea Incubation Program track consists of programs such as “Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship”, “Building Business Plans” and “Entrepreneurial Finance” that give students the necessary grounding in the A-B-Cs of building a business.
IPL also provides participants a chance to network with and learn from industry leaders through a series of industry connect events. Among these, special mention must be made of the not-for-profit Product Leadership Forum (PLF) run by IPL alumni. PLF has been going from strength to strength as a unique product innovation focused platform that attracts a galaxy of product superstars from across the industry spectrum. Experienced faculty, industry connect events, information sessions, mentorship and reviews, VC exposure and a curriculum that focuses on product innovation – IPL is the ideal incubation hub for product innovators.