How to Out-Innovate at the Frontier
Updated: Apr 6
By Alex Lazarow, Investment Director with Cathay Innovation
The new playbook for innovation and startup success is emerging from beyond Silicon Valley—at the new “frontier” of startup culture.
Startups have changed the world. In the United States, many startups, such as Tesla, Apple, and Amazon, have become household names. The economic value of startups has doubled since 1992 and is projected to double again in the next fifteen years.
For decades, the hot center of this phenomenon has been Silicon Valley. This is changing fast.
Thanks to technology, startups are now taking root everywhere, from Delhi to Detroit to Nairobi to São Paulo. Yet despite this globalization of startup activity, our knowledge of how to build successful startups is still drawn primarily from Silicon Valley.
The Silicon Valley “gospel” on innovation best practice is due for a refresh—and it comes from what I call the “frontier,” the growing constellation of startup ecosystems, outside of the Valley and other major economic centers, that now stretches across the globe. The frontier is a truly different world where startups often must cope with political or economic instability and lack of infrastructure, and where there might be little or no access to angel investors, venture capitalists, or experienced employee pools.
Under such conditions, entrepreneurs must be creators who build industries rather than disruptors who change them because there are few existing businesses to disrupt. The companies they create must be global from birth when local markets are too small. They focus on resiliency and sustainability rather than unicorn-style growth at any cost. When infrastructure does not exist, they build the full-stack, developing enabling business models, only to offer their desired end product. Finally, entrepreneurs at the frontier don’t just build their startup – often they are building their ecosystems at the same time.
With rich and wide-ranging stories of frontier innovators from around the world, Out-Innovate shares this new playbook for innovation—wherever it has the potential to happen.
Out-Innovate will be published by Harvard Business Review Press. It was one of the three
finalists for the best book proposals exploring emerging business themes, a competition co-
hosted by McKinsey and The Financial Times, organizers of the Business Book of the Year
Award. Out-Innovate was named
“Top Book To Inform Your Technology And Innovation Strategy” - by Forbes
#1 Release in Venture Capital on Amazon.
The book launches on Amazon on Tuesday, April 7th.