I was in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on June 7 for the opening of the Northside Innovation Festival, where I got to spend the first warm day of the summer of 2017 exploring the future. Kudos to the organizers for providing such an inspiring respite from the routines of daily life!
At the Festival, I attended seven seminars on a variety of topics. But what I found most interesting were the programs that dealt with how to be successful. Partly due to the financial crisis, many millennials are striking out on their own and don’t want to work for corporate America. They want to be in control of their destinies and are willing to take the risks. Ironically, their business exit strategies are the same as those corporations: create a great product and/or service and either go public or sell it to a bigger firms that, because of its size, politics, and bureaucracy, has difficulties creating its own successful and innovative brands.
Some of the seminars hosted by Fortune magazine were interesting and insightful. Many audience members were innovators, entrepreneurs and folks who worked for them, and they wanted to know the secret sauce for success. One panelist commented that, “Big Brands are overthought.” I totally agreed. Essentially, the secret sauce is simple: go with your gut, proper planning can make a difference, and know your customers and what they want. A good example of planning was provided by Julie Mossler of WAZE. When the company was still relatively unknown, the team planned a public relations strategy to take place when the next “car-mageddon” event occurred. They decided they would flying out their CEO to the location and introduce their brand and its benefits. The plan worked and the brand got instant recognition.
Overall, opening day for Northside Festival was a terrific and fun filled event. It reconfirmed that innovation and entrepreneurialism is alive and well and living in Brooklyn. Many of the issues and problems entrepreneurs face today are no different than those of their predecessors, except that there are now new and more sophisticated tools available to them.