Mass Innovation Nights founder Bobbie Carlton on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur
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Bobbie Carlton is an award-winning marketing, PR and social media professional who founded Mass Innovation Nights, a free monthly product launch party and networking event powered entirely by social media.
Mass Innovation Nights is a sponsor in the upcoming SmartCamp Boston event and we recently asked Bobbie why she is interested in the event and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur today.
As you can probably guess, in my role as the "den mother" for Mass Innovation Nights, I am most interested in hearing about the local startups and their new products.
What does an ecosystem need to be successful? Big business, government, academia, location, tech people?
A successful innovation ecosystem is comprised of many parts. The first step in the innovation economy continuum is a place where people can go with an idea and vet it. They need a place where they can discuss the idea in relative comfort and security. Is the concept worthy of next steps? Once an entrepreneur feels like they are on to something, they move on to things like market research, assembling a team, creating a business plan and a prototype. From there, a successful ecosystem has a number of opportunities to test the waters with the product.
How does a company become successful with so many companies often chasing the same problem?
Knowledge of customer needs and the ability to execute go hand-in-hand. Knowing exactly what a customer needs, and is willing to pay for is a key competitive advantage.
What do you see as some of the emerging trends in the entrepreneurship space?
Maybe it is wishful thinking but I feel like the last six months has seen a surge in startups with real business models. I am seeing fewer companies “free-strapping” – creating something out of nothing and often not having a business model associated with their product. More startups are seeking paying customers and fewer are going the free (and freemium) route. (There are still some but there seems to be a greater number of revenue-driving startups than even just a year ago.)
If you were to give one piece of advice to up and coming entrepreneurs, what would that be?
Make sure you are solving a real problem. A real problem is one that your customer will open their wallet to pay for because it impacts the success of their business.