Entrepreneurship is NOT about Innovation, But Commercialization

Future-of-Colleges-and-Universities-542Entrepreneurs role in society is Not Innovation, but taking promising innovation to market.

Great entrepreneurs start their business venture with phrases like “I want to bring this innovation to market”,  or “I’m looking for innovation that could solve this pain/problem”.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, didn’t invent the search engine technology that got Google started. Robin Li did. In 1996, Li developed the Rankdex site-scoring algorithm for search engine page ranking, based on the idea of ranking websites according to the number of other websites that linked to that site, something similar to citations in scientific articles.


Li invention was dormant inside a Dow Jones subsidiary company called IDD. In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought that innovation to market, and the rest is history.

Only, two years later Robin Li will recognize the potential of his invention, and created Baidu, the most popular search engine in China with 80% market share. Eventually, like the Google founders, Li is now a billionaire, ranked as the second richest man in China with a net worth of $10.2 billion.

Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, nor the assembly line.

Karl Benz and hundred of mechanics garages across Europe were building cars since 1886. Henri first car was produced in 1913. What makes Ford Different?

Henry’s entrepreneurial motivation was to bring the automobile to the rest of America. In 1907, Henry Ford announced his goal for the Ford Motor Company to create “a motor car for the great multitude.” “When I’m through,” he said, “about everybody will have one”.

This was said at a time when automobiles were expensive, custom-made machines. Cars in 1908 were sold for about $2,500 a piece. Henry wanted to start a company that make cars that everyone could afford. His reference price to achieve that goal was $849 a piece.

But, to build a car for that price, Henry has to build it in a completely different way. So he asked himself “What available innovation could help me build a car that sells $849 or lower”. He started visiting flour mills, breweries, canneries, industrial bakeries and other mechanics garages around the country in search of innovation that he could replicate.

The aha moment finally came when he was visiting Armour Meat Processing Plant in Chicago. Henry was impressed with the efficiency of their disassembly line: a pig carcass hung from a hook that rolled along an overhead rail in front of a line of workers, each of whom cut off a piece of the pork with a specialized knife. The pig was skeletonized in less than 2 minutes.

Inspired by the “disassembly line” Henri created his Model T’s on an assembly line. He broke the Model T’s assembly into 84 discrete steps, and trained each of his workers to do just one. He also hired motion-study expert Frederick Taylor to make those jobs even more efficient. Meanwhile, he built machines that could stamp out parts automatically, and much more quickly than even the fastest human worker could.

His “innovation” (as grossly recorded in the school books) reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to two hours and 30 minutes. The rest if history.


Another great entrepreneur is Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. Sam Walton didn’t invent the supermarket. His vision was to make supermarket a place for everyone. As Maverick Roy H. William wrote, Sam Walton was just another Henri Ford with a different haircut.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn’t invent the personal computer. Their vision was to bring the personal computer to the rest of us. Microsoft didn’t invent MS-DOS or the personal computer. Bill Gates’s vision was  to put “a computer on every desk and in every home.”

Once you’ve fully understood the fundamental difference between innovation and entrepreneurship, your chance of success increases dramatically. Big companies separate R&D (Research & Development) from operations (commercialization) for that same reason. 

Innovation is a very risky business. Most of it is sponsored or subsidized by governments’ funds, universities, VCs and big corporations. Commercialization is what companies are primary created for.

The best entrepreneurs seek innovation to introduce to market, and live from making profit. Innovators seek to discover new technologies and solutions, and live from patenting and licensing. Two different mindsets and two different business models.

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About Mawuna KOUTONIN

Mawuna Koutonin is a world peace activist who relentlessly works to empower people to express their full potential and pursue their dreams, regardless of their background. He is the Editior of SiliconAfrica.com, Founder of Goodbuzz.net, and Social activist for Africa Renaissance. Koutonin’s ultimate dream is to open a world-class human potential development school in Africa in 2017. If you are interested in learning more about this venture or Koutonin’s other projects, you can reach him directly by emailing at mk@linkcrafter.com.

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