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How Do You Measure the Success of Innovation?

Start-up investors and founders share their KPIs for innovation

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BY Pauline Mendoza - 03 Aug 2018


PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Can success be measured? In the language of start-ups, success can be synonymous to a good return on investment, among other things. But a start-up with a good ROI cannot exist without a thriving ecosystem that supports innovation. Unlike ROI, innovation doesn’t have standard metrics. How then can start-ups measure the success of innovation?

This is exactly the reflection that went into one of the panel discussions at innovation conference Ignite PH last July. Entrepreneurs and investors in the panel weighed in on how to measure the success of innovation in relation to creating a thriving start-up ecosystem in Southeast Asia. They came up with these KPIs for innovation:

1. More people involved

For Mitsuru Kikunaga, an investor from REAPRA, it’s all about more people wanting to get involved in the innovative ecosystem.

“I want to make good friends here in the Philippines who will contribute to the innovation in the region,” he says. “It is more of maybe — I’m not saying we have to hire many people, but [it should be] automatically we need to hire more people, and face more people [because of business growth]; this is one of my [immediate] goals.”

2. Change of mindsets

Takashi Kawabata of business intelligence company Uzabase shares how they continue to help businesses create impactful decisions and more efficient processes with their business intelligence technology, and for him, that’s one of the KPIs of innovation.

“You want to change people’s mindsets and that’s a measure of success for you,” echoes Vikram Bharati, founder of Tribe Theory, who was the moderator of the panel discussion.

3. Strong network

“I think the KPI would be how strong the network will be within the next five years. It is critical that within the next five years, we create the ecosystem, the network [that supports innovation],” shares entrepreneur and TV producer John Aguilar who is behind the entrepreneur-focused reality TV show, The Final Pitch.

“It may not be a yes now — let’s say, a start-up may want to pitch something — okay, maybe [the idea] is too raw, but a no now doesn’t mean a no five years from now so we really have to establish that network, that ecosystem for innovation,” he explains. “The main KPI right now, I think, is to foster an exchange, not just of cards, but eventually in a few years, maybe business, because we’ll never know [who we’ll collaborate with in the future].”

How can Southeast Asia foster innovation?

Bharati shares one key concept, “I think the takeaway from this discussion is how do you create and foster innovation, and it sounds like the answer is it starts with the entrepreneur and ends with the entrepreneur. It’s not the governance, it’s not the investors, it’s not the service providers, it’s not the universities — they all help, but it starts with the entrepreneur.”


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