Yesterday morning I got out of bed at 4AM Sydney time to attend one of a series of free webinars on innovation run by Stanford center for professional development. 10AM in California doesn’t seem to be good for anywhere else as far as I can tell, yet there were 600+ people in attendance.
Being free, these are (as you might expect) not terribly deep – being aimed at recruiting students into the paid courses by offering a brief intro to the course, however they do offer good insights into the topic, and also of Stanford itself. Particularly impressive is the calibre of the presenters and guests.
The topic of “business models for innovators” was kicked off by professor Haim Mendelson, quickly moving to introduce the perspective of VC Howard Hartenbaum who described what, for him, makes a venture interesting enough to invest in, and also some of the indicators of a less interesting new business venture. Some of these seem a bit obvious (requires a lot of investment is a turn-off apparently), whereas the suggestion that click-based business models, or those in industries where acquirers don’t place a lot of value (services-oriented or relying on integration to legacy systems) were less obvious.
The case study on RelayRides from CEO Andre Haddad caught me out as it is already a step ahead of what I thought was the quite new innovation of short term car rental (such as Goget in Australia). The business model – leveraging off the Sharing Economy, and increasing tendency of young people to not buy cars – cuts through the traditional car hire model by completely removing the need for RelayRides to own any cars at all. Very smart, and successful.