Our First Accelerator Program
When we launched our first Accelerator Program, in San Francisco in April 2014, little did we know that we may end up as an innovation development organization? While we had great successes helping our startups thrive, and were named one of the top 100 most influential accelerators in the world, already one year later, in 2015, we noticed that our unique and methodical approach gave us an enormous advantage over all our competitors. Unlike most conventional accelerators, our program was scaleable. Even though “methodical approach” didn’t sound right in a fast-evolving startup ecosystem – it is one of those counterintuitive things about disruption in general, which made the real difference. Our accelerator was in a similar way disruptive like all the four businesses we created before. After discussions with other accelerators about teaching disruption, it seemed to be equally odd. How can somebody teach disruption when each disruption is taking an entire industry onto a radically different course and nobody has seen anything like that before?
In 2016 we began to work on our first accelerator flight to create disruptive business models. We looked for the key characteristic of disruption, how can one become disruptive and how can somebody come to a disruptive business model idea. In our 2016 accelerator, we managed to get 5 out of 8 participating companies to create a disruptive business model. This was a totally unexpected success for us and our teams. When we started this program we were hoping to get 1 out of 8 to come out with a disruptive business model.
How is innovation really created?
Approximately 2 years of research and continuous observation of our own thought processes got us ever closer to understand certain mechanisms how our brain gets to ideas and how ideas are actually formed in our brain. In 2019, we began to realize that methodically guided thought processes show far better results than the random ideation and brainstorming processes. It felt a bit like the difference between randomly hitting piano keys and hitting them in a structured order. And we also realized the analogy was deeply grounded in the very mechanism of innovation. Musicians, actually do not call their process a creation but composition. And we learned that also innovation is no real creation but a composition.
However, when hitting keys, we see our hand, get haptic feedback and kind of know how we move our hands around. But we don’t really know – yet – how we trigger our roughly 86 billion neurons and trillions of synapsis. We learned that those neurons are not statically connected to each other but can dynamically “rewire” themselves. That means our 1,000 Trillions of network nodes are a masterpiece of information aggregation and dynamic association. In a nutshell: Ideas get formed based on dynamic connections of our neurons, which in turn carries information that we accumulated one way or the other from the moment we have been created as an embryo.
To build an analogy to a computer, we don’t need to know the billions of transistors in a CPU and all the connected chips and devices – all we need to know is a programing language to develop code that know where to go. Very similarly we need to know a language or method that triggers the brain’s trillions of synapse through their neural networks. With that understanding we started to model ways to create innovative and disruptive concepts with an astounding high success rate. Getting a glimpse of an understanding how the brain works was an interesting step in understanding innovation creation.
All this is just the very beginning of an amazing journey to come.