Founder of Siri: ‘Fail fast, pivot often’ is wrong

By Editor September 29, 2015

Silicon Valley’s popular approach to creating new ventures is rooted in trial and error – test markets with new concepts and a minimum amount of capital, “fail fast, pivot often” and hope for the best.

And while widely practiced, this route to the top has only worked in a handful of exceptional situations. More often than not, it simply ends up hurting entrepreneurs both personally and professionally. And even more broadly, it hurts society at large by misdirecting resources that otherwise could have been productively employed.

In their new book, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD: A Guide to Creating, Building, and Sustaining Breakthrough Ventures (Harvard Business Review Press; October 20, 2015), Henry Kressel and Norman Winarsky—technologists, inventors, and investors with stellar track records in launching successful new ventures—hope to counter this pernicious trend. In its place, they offer a tried and true roadmap for aspiring entrepreneurs to build market-leading businesses that will become a permanent part of our landscape, and profoundly change the way we work and live.

Kressel and Winarsky walk readers step-by-step through the critical stages from an entrepreneur’s initial concept, to the first funding meeting with a top investor, to the decision to go IPO, and to maintaining a culture of innovation in the new public company.

Based on the authors’ experiences—including Norman Winarsky’s personal account of launching Siri, Apple’s Virtual Assistant—they describe and illustrate with examples how to do the really hard work that lays the foundation of great businesses by:

• Identifying and sizing large markets and evaluating them for growth by understanding the resources needed to effectively compete

• Assessing, developing, and hiring exceptional teams

• Identifying a sustainable, differentiated technology or business solution that trumps the competition

• Developing a value proposition and business plan that articulate the company’s value, strategy, and plan and attracts the required capital

Today’s world is rich with opportunities for disruption and change in markets and technologies including areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, personalized medicine, medical devices, new small satellite systems, new energy sources and more. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD is the guide to help entrepreneurs aim high, use that breakthrough technology or business model to identify opportunities, and build lasting companies that can impact the world.

“We think the world is a better place – with more satisfied people, more value and impact on society and civilization – when ventures that can change the world actually do,” write Kressel and Winarsky.

IF YOU REALLY WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD: A Guide to Creating, Building, and Sustaining Breakthrough Ventures
By Henry Kressel and Norman Winarsky
Harvard Business Review Press
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Hardcover ISBN: 9781625278296; Price: $30.00; 256 Pages
Author Hometowns: New York City and San Francisco