Innovation in Practice Kathryn Wilson & Lisa SzarazBU420 Topics in Business | Business of Art & Design Ringling College of Art & Design Sarasota, FL Fall 2012
As a "social enterprise" the HuB is active in building a moredynamic community. Since 2009, the HuB has taken an active role inpromoting big ideas. The HuB is a collaborative and creativeworkspace. Unlike traditional ofﬁce space, the HuB promotesinteraction between everyone in the building. The HuB believes thisinteraction is what fuels the growth of each venture located at theHuB, and also helps build a stronger economy in our community. TheHuB understands growing a business out of a garage or in thesecond bedroom of your house can be limiting. Being part of avibrant network of entrepreneurs with similar goals, challenges andpassion can be catalyst to great ideas and great businesses.History of the HuB The HuB started in the summer of 2009. The idea was simple -"Create a place where creative energy could thrive." Over the pastfew years that idea has evolved into a thriving economic and socialengine that has supported over one-hundred entrepreneurs,launched twelve businesses and launched twelve major campaigns
to support creative change in Sarasota, Florida. The Hub wasfounded by Rich Swier Jr. with a simple vision to create a more"dynamic city". Since starting his ﬁrst business in 1994 in Sarasota,Rich has worked towards making Sarasota a city whereentrepreneurs can have the best of both worlds - a beautiful place tolive and start their new venture. In a short time, the HuB has beensuccessful in re-branding Sarasota as a "creative paradise" whereentrepreneurs and members of the creative class can see a clearpath to building their business.How does it work? The HuB is a collaborative space where entrepreneurs developideas and launch new ventures. The HuB supports entrepreneurs inmultiple ways depending on what they need to be successful. TheHuB can provide a wide range of services, expertise and access tocapital to launch any digital business. The HuB is a “creativeincubator;” a "creative incubator” embraces the organic (andsometimes serendipitous) process of entrepreneurs coming togetherto create something great. Unlike other incubators that focus almostentirely on commercializing R&D, the HuB is focused on ﬁnding anddeveloping a new class of entrepreneurs.What type of ventures does the HuB launch? The HuB focuses primarily on "digital" businesses. A digitalbusiness typically provides a product, content or service usingtechnology and new media. The primary catalyst that drives a digitalbusiness is creativity.
Interview Questions:Could you give us a brief introduction to The HuB and how it wascreated? How did the name The HuB come about?How did you go about locating your staff and talent?What is your average third party interest in collaborating and workingwith The HuB? What percentage of your time is spent researchingmarket needs and executing your projects based on those needs? Inand out of the ofﬁce?How do you gauge your competition? Who are your biggestcompetitors?How do you plan to evolve the HuB brand even further?Out of all the HuB’s ventures, which one was the hardest one to start?How do you exercise your mind within the ofﬁce? Is it hard to not getchained up in small tasks?How do you create diversity in the ofﬁce?How do you differentiate the innovative explorers vs. executors withinthe ofﬁce?How do you shine a spotlight on success? How do you reward andmotivate your employees?How do you tolerate the failure of a certain business proposal/idea?What is your innovation process like?What is your process of transitioning ideas into product/servicedevelopment?
What methods do you use to evaluate/prioritize/select ideas forfurther development?How do you practice trend spotting?What is your favorite methods of collecting customer needs & marketinsights?How do you picture the HuB in 10+ years?How do you search for innovative opportunities?Have you explored the concept and production of tangible innovativeproducts rather than just services (studio/production company/onlinemarket)?Is there a company or brand in which you look up to for inspiration?Are there companies you admire?What has been your biggest project thus far? What was it like workingon it?In Peter Drucker’s The Discipline of Innovation, he states that “thereare clearly people who are more talented as innovators than others,but their talents lie in well-deﬁned areas. Innovators rarely work inmore than one area.” Would you agree with this? Do you haveemployees that have a broad range of endeavors?If you could have anything to aid in your innovation, what would it be?What methods of brainstorming do you practice?How much of your funding comes from the HuB Fund? Do you getprivate funding for certain ventures?How did market and technology dynamics provide opportunities forThe HuB?
How was the opportunity concept developed?What sources of ideas were consulted?What methods were used – brainstorming, lead user analysis etc.?How were the risks assessed and prioritized?How does The HuB plan for future stages?How do you maintain creativity in the workplace?What does The HuB strive hardest for?What has been the most difﬁcult obstacle since start-up?What are some of your ideas for growth?In your article,“10 Reasons Why Sarasota Isn’t Number 1.” youdiscuss your thoughts on the lack of “love” for the city. Since yourventure with The HuB, have you seen a change?Do you ﬁnd this lack of love has had an effect or is effecting The HuBand its innovation practices?How does the city and the market effect The HuB?How was the entire innovation process structured?Are many activities undertaken in parallel? How are R&D teamsdesigned?How are decisions made?What challenges are faced?What is the incentive structure within a team and across teams?What types of incentives are given to technical and business peopleengaged in the process?
Are outside individuals part of the innovation process – for exampleout-sourced R&D, community-based users such as open source,academics, consultants, communities?If so, what are the incentives for them? How is intellectual property(IP) managed in these external relationships?What are the drivers of commercialization?What role does The HuB’s business model play or is it a new model?Does The HuB have strong IP (intellectual property)?How much do you rely on other assets such as market channels,brand etc.?Does The HuB engage in strategic partnerships? If so, what are thebasic factors that make partnership-based approach effective?
Innovation in Practice Lisa Szaraz & Kat Wilson
What is The HuB?The HuB is a creative andcollaborative space andcommunity whereentrepreneurs come togetherto develop ideas andcontribute towards building anew economy and culture inSarasota, FL.The HuB is a “socialenterprise” active in building amore dynamic community.
overview- intro to Creative incubating- locating staff and talent- gauging competition- business model- brainstorming process- innovation process- critical path development- the hub’s ventures- dealing with failure- srq’s creative economy- Strategic partnerships- competitive advantage- intellectual property- maintaining creativity in the workplace- going forward
The creative Incubator A "creative" incubator embraces the organic (and sometimes serendipitous) process of entrepreneurs coming together to create something great. Unlike other incubators that focus almost entirely on commercializing R&D, the HuB is focused on ﬁnding and developing a new class of entrepreneurs. Their new 3,000 square foot facility will open next month to house some of Sarasota’s leading entrepreneurial creatives, complete with several lounge areas, multi- purpose rooms, conference rooms, kitchen, event space, video editing rooms and sound booths.
Rich Swier Jr. Founder and CEO,The HuB Graduated from Universityof Florida Majored in Math Created the ﬁrst internetprovider in Sarasota duringthe 1990’sCreated the ﬁrst cablemodem Revolutionized broadbandservice for Comcast
How do you go about locating your staff and talent?“The interesting and coolest thingabout the Hub is that everything isorganic. We don’t recruit, we don’tseek people. Every single person herewalked through that door.Usually what happens is, like abeacon, we put out a vibe in theuniverse and they just come, througheither a party or campaign, somethingfunny or community-oriented,Facebook...People who get it, walk through thedoor.”
How do you gaugeyour competition?“It’s no competition here. It’snot a traditional business,we’re a facilitator of ideas, soin reality, there is nocompetition.There’s a lot of people who dowhat we do, but at this levelin the game, we don’t eventhink of it as competition.”
What is your business model?“The ‘Non-Plan Plan.’Some guy can walk through the door tomorrow and say “I wantto start a company,” and if it makes sense and we have the talentto help him do that, and there’s a market and we can validate it,that’s what we do.”
What is your business model?“I’ve never asked anyone to come here, it’s how it should be. Any otherbusiness model would fail because you’re trying to force it; make people thinksomething. If it’s organic, and you let it grow, and you’re patient enough to dothat, it actually becomes stronger because it’s real.We think of ourselves like a college. We get an entrepreneur and we want todevelop that entrepreneur, and my theory is, that entrepreneur is going tohave 50 big ideas in his lifetime. If you bet on the entrepreneur instead of theidea, you’ll do well. As long as they continue to learn and develop, theywill hit something big.”
What is your brainstorming process?“includes everyone that wants to beinvolved. we go over what we need todo, bring up ideas, use improvtechniques like word association,generally get people excited.typically booze is involved,especially when brainstormingbusiness ideas.we’ll surf youtube for ideas.basically whatever the project feelswhere the answer might be.”
What is your innovation process?Rich’s 3 Elements to Innovative Problem-Solving1. Find an important problem2. Find a disruptive way of solving the problem3. Don’t think like an inventor, think like a consumer “The way I go about innovation is kind of problem solving, but I had this concept of ‘what can be disruptive?’ You want to completely change the way its done, like completely implode the structure of what it was, and transition from sustainable innovation to disruptive innovation. Another thing that entrepreneurs don’t do is, and something to get out of your head, to stop thinking like an inventor. Think like a practical human being and think about what you’d embrace, think of it like you’re a consumer and not like something else. The only true way to be innovative is to continue looking through the looking glass as a consumer.”
critical path development“...you put your plan together and then wemeasure that plan against whatever the goals are,and then really boiling it down to a quantitativething, and then hitting those targets. After that,everything really becomes easy.Because if they know they come to workeveryday, I know what I have to do by next monthby reaching those target goals. As long as they hitthose goals, we’ll make enough money.”
critical path development1. Idea Review2. Execution3. Review Cost Requisition4. Set Targets5. Execute Targets6. Reach Goals7. Retain Profits
critical path development“What typically happens with companies, you’regoing down this critical path, and somethinghappens - something didn’t work the way it did, you have to be able to pivot.Adjust your business to what might come. A lot ofthings that we do here are very organic. If you ﬁndyourself pushing and pushing against this wall andnothing is coming, you have to pivot.And I think I’m good at giving people theconﬁdence to do that.”
do you believe entrepreneursare born or made? “Well I think it’s both, I certainly believe I was born one...”“...because I feel like when I was a kid, or when Iwas in college, people would ask me, ‘what areyou going to do in life?’ I’m like I don’t know - I’mmore of a “renaissance thinker,” so I felt like I wasborn one.You’re deﬁnitely born with that gene, think about itlike being a vampire - you’re gonna hunger for itand you’re not going to be happy unless you do it.It’s that thirst for blood.”
In your article,“10 Reasons Why Sarasota Isn’tNumber 1,” you discuss your thoughts on thelack of “love” for the city. Since your venturewith The HuB, have you seen a change? “Yes, I think so. Especially amongst my age and younger. I think its just an oasis - Sarasota is a desert for young people. There’s really few places where you can go and feel like “this is fun” or somewhere they can be themselves. It’s nice to have a place, a small place, where you can go with like-minded people or people who are cool that you can be yourself and be creative. It’s a sense of community, which everyone wants to be a part of.”
In your article,“10 Reasons Why Sarasota Isn’tNumber 1,” you discuss your thoughts on thelack of “love” for the city. Since your venturewith The HuB, have you seen a change?“You need somewhere wherethere’s enough degrees of separationwhere you don’t feel like you knoweveryone, but there’s not too muchseparation where you don’t feel likeyou’re not important.It’s an interesting dynamic. I feel likewe’re closer to that than anything.”
Out of all the HuB’s ventures,which one was the hardest oneto start?The hardest to get going - in an interesting waythey’re not hard to get going because that’swhen you’re passionate about it and they’re fun.The hardest and the most difﬁcult ones are theones who don’t have an alignment of morality orpassion but it’s when the entrepreneurs aren’treally hardcore passionate about what they’redoing.Those are the toughest because what happensis there’s nobody there to center the passion.Nobody wants to help, when you havesomeone who’s really passionate and loves, nomatter what at the end of the day, it builds thisenergy and everyone wants to be around it.
In Peter Drucker’s The Discipline of Innovation, he states that “there are clearly peoplewho are more talented as innovators than others, but their talents lie in well-definedareas. Innovators rarely work in more than one area.” Would you agree with this? Do youhave employees that have a broad range of endeavors?“Sometimes projects consume you. I’ve had that happen. It’s not that I don’t believe in oneway or the other, I just feel that it’s a mistake to be doing multiple things. It’s something thatyou have to learn how to do. A lot of people don’t know how to do that, and sometimesthings will overwhelm them and you can easily fold underneath that pressure.I would equate it to juggling. If you can juggle, if you can learn how to juggle, and you’recomfortable juggling, then great. But it’s not necessarily something I encourage ordiscourage.
when an idea is dragging,how do you deal with it?“We kill it.”“Because it just pulls on everyone. Evenwhen I say kill it, I wasn’t killing theperson, we’ll put the person onsomething else if he’s a goodentrepreneur.Ideas come and go, products come andgo, tomorrow you might think somethingis the greatest thing on earth, but theentrepreneurs - as long as they stay withit, if you continue to learn and develop,they’ll come up with a great idea.”
How do you deal withfailure?“I encourage failure, I think it’s awesome.”“People fail quickly because the quicker youfail, the less time you’re wasting.Acknowledge failure, don’t be afraid of it.Fail, fail, fail until you minimize. The quickeryou fail, the better.My biggest mistake, when I was young andstarting off as an entrepreneur, I didn’tacknowledge failure quick enough, so I couldget on to the next project. I always held on tothis idea, thinking it was the last great idea,but in reality, it was just stupid.”
How do you deal withfailure?“One of the things we try to showpeople here at the HuB is that failure is no big deal.It’s only when there’s pressure ofthat, that it becomes a liability.When you feel like you’re beingjudged based off failure, that isbecomes a liability in aworkforce. It creates a verystressful environment.”
Sarasota’s Creative Economy The HuB strives to make sarasota a “creative paradise” that attracts creative professionals to move here and start their businesses, and also keep young college graduates here to build the new culture and economy. involved in local politics and shifting our culture to be more progressive. huge supporter of local arts, especially local artists and musicians, promote music festivals, promote groups like SArtQ hang local at in our building, as well as feature local bands at our hub day events.
Sarasota’s Creative Economy help entrepreneurs take their ideas and build companies. provides them a creative workspace, supportive team, capital and resources that are needed to succeed. believe arts and creativity are the center of the new economy. working with more “creative entrepreneurs” leveraging their skills and creativity to build new businesses.
Strategic partnerships “We work a lot with different entities... Its not easy, we want to inﬂuence and change people but you certainly cant expect them to. I believe the best entrepreneurs are artists.. creatives. That is what I discovered by accident. Creative drive is critical.”
the hub’s competitive advantage"Our biggest competitiveadvantage...All the things Ive been saying forthe past hour.. nobody in their rightmind would these things.Encourage free thinking.The beautiful thing about being anentrepreneur is you truly dont needbureaucratic structure in thebeginning.”
intellectual property IP = innovation through mimicry repurposed and inspiration “we live in a collaborative economy, we must live outside the system and constantly innovate.” “its not a bad thing, its all about money.”
maintaining creativityin the workplace brainstorming improv laughter collaborative space space in general events idea wall
going forward with the hub New building to bring togetherentrepreneurs, creative professionals,and technology companies A place for people to congregate,collaborate, and create a new future forSarasota Working with Ringling College’sMotion Design students to bring a newform of art to the Sarasota communitythrough digital projections to beshowcased during their GrandOpening on December 8th.