Interview with the authors of ‘FOUND: Transforming Your Unlimited Ideas into One Sustainable Business’

Book Title: ‘FOUND: Transforming Your Unlimited Ideas into One Sustainable Business’

Authors (Photo): Naveen Lakkur (Corporate Innovation Coach) and Dr Liz Alexander (Consulting Co-author and global thought leadership strategist)

To know more about the authors: Naveen ( and Dr Liz (

The book was launched yesterday at Bangalore, India. Since it a book that is aimed at entrepreneurs, a group that I work with closely, I wanted to know more. Though I could not be there in person for the event, I caught up with Naveen for a quick e-chat. An edited version is presented below. I hope this will give you an overview of the book and incite interest to read it. My best wishes to the authors for all success of their book.

Here is the interview:

What gave you the idea to write FOUND: Transforming Your Unlimited Ideas into One Sustainable Business?

The enthusiasm for entrepreneurship is on a rise and, of course, such excitement is an important part of this journey since it takes a huge commitment in time, money and effort to bring an idea to its full reality. We also need more entrepreneurs to build meaningful companies which, in turn, helps to support and sustain the economy. But if you look at the number of startups that survive, the figure is very low. What is needed to successfully build a sustainable business is a sound process and methodology for deciding which of your many ideas you will pick and act on. Our book, FOUND, is all about helping aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs – as well as those charged with intrapreneurial initiatives within the corporate world – find that one winning idea.

What is your view on entrepreneurship in India currently?

Traditionally in India, entrepreneurship at the grass roots level has been more about family-owned businesses that operate locally. Thanks to technology, the term has been redefined and taken to a new level. One in which entrepreneurs are able to build more scalable, even global solutions. As such, technology has been a catalyst, increasing the number of people interested in entrepreneurship and who wish to create a bigger impact for a larger base of people. That’s especially true in India where there is considerable interest, not just in creating products and apps, but in providing fresh solutions to some of our most pressing social problems. With the opportunity to help change our country and the world, we’ve seen many more first time entrepreneurs stepping forward. The startup dynamic now looks very different to the way it did just a few years ago.

How might the five-part framework in FOUND contribute to the recently-launched Startup India movement?Foundcover copy

Now that Startup India has become a movement, tapping into the aspirations and personal goals of people who want to make a difference in the world, there is the potential for very large number of new entrepreneurs. While something like 4,500 startups were registered last year, we can see that in the coming 5-10 years, that number could be boosted to 100,000 startups—a huge increase compared to what is happening currently. But as we said earlier, the success rates of startups is currently very low. If the number of people attempting to become entrepreneurs grows exponentially, there has to be some support system in order for all those ideas to become sustainable businesses. FOUND is our humble offering that contributes to Startup India by ensuring future entrepreneurs are able to stand up and stand out.

Naveen, you bring considerable experience from corporate life, as well as being a startup founder, startup investor and now a corporate innovation coach. What have you learned most from that blend of experience?

As you say, my experience has come through a variety of different approaches to ideation and startup success and I’ve had a lot of learning along the way. As a result of joining all these dots I was able to develop this proven FOUND methodology and offer it to people who want to come up with a lot of ideas yet find one that can become scalable, even globally impactful. Because I’ve had experience both in the startup space and the corporate world, the intellectual property that came out of that learning has been transformed into the FOUND framework. And the beauty is, it works as an enabler for people aspiring to become entrepreneurs, and for corporates looking to support intrapreneurship in their organisations.

What were some of the challenges you faced in your own entrepreneurial journey?

I’ve always been someone who has found it easy to generate a lot of ideas and can see opportunities in them all. I found that picking one idea and making that a priority was one of my biggest challenges, because it’s very tempting to want to try to take them all to the next level! Which is why I find it easy to empathize with entrepreneurs who face the same hard decisions and why I wanted to write this book!

Also, when I went through my own entrepreneurial journey there was very little in the way of support. There wasn’t the same ecosystem that there is these days. So I had no option other than bootstrapping, which can be a double-edged sword when you are trying to test and validate a lot of ideas to begin with. I certainly made a lot of mistakes and learned the hard way. It’s this learning that we’re sharing with the readers of FOUND so they can build a sustainable, successful business without having to experience too many missteps.

What are your hopes for your book, FOUND?

Both Dr. Liz and I hope that the framework for ideation presented in our book will help launch many sustainable businesses and prove especially helpful for those entrepreneurs who plan to bootstrap and use their resources wisely. What would delight us most is to discover that one day the founders of several unicorn companies – those with billion dollar valuations or more – say that they read this book called FOUND and that its principles and framework helped them create global value-creating brands.

I hope you found the short e-interview interesting. For those who want to find ‘Found’ I am sharing a quick clue:


Interesting Links This Week: 18-Aug-2013

With social media becoming widely believed to be the resource constrained marketers tool to fight larger competitors617px--_Flower_19_- – will niche networks help? While on one hand the number of followers on twitter or fans of facebook is a measure of your popularity, do they turn into revenue? Will niche networks with lesser but focused participation solve this challenging correlation? Here are some thoughts. Link: 

Samsung recently enhanced its efforts under the banner of “Open Innovation” by launching an accelerator in the Silicon Valley! Why would Samsung want to do this, especially at a time when its innovation programs are doing well. They want to utilize the startup ecosystem to strengthen their feeder for innovations related to software. This can then be funneled into all their products. Sounds like corporate are exploring the use of entrepreneurial talent in a variety of ways. I am sure this is just another step in that direction. We are sure there is more to see than this. Here is one interesting article on it:

Life Sciences is an emerging domain. But the entrepreneurs starting up are mostly scientists and technically oriented minds. So many find it difficult to take off and become commercially viable. Here are some tips from people who crossed the chasm. Link:

Interesting Links This Week: 04-Aug-2013

My top links for this week:

Have you ever wondered how to use social media tools intelligently? Especially if you are an author, are you using theMacro_Flower_2 social media tools to find new readers and engage existing reader? If you are not or  if you are finding the going tough, here are some thoughts that could help. Link:

Google SVP Jonathan Rosenberg is one of the important people who practice innovation in the world. How does he ensure his team remains open to ideas and be consistently successful at innovation? Here at a talk given to his alma mater he opens up on what makes innovation a success at Google and how we can take a few lessons to achieve success in innovation ourselves. Link:

Career advice is always helpful! But when you look at some of the ideas presented here, it looks more like advice to plan life to be lived well and fully. Check it out and take whatever portions you liked. Link:

Interesting Links This Week: 23-June-2013

Links that made it to my list this week:Roasted_coffee_beans

Getting internships can be one hell of a job in itself, especially if it is in a company like Google. Now you have a movie that explores what it would be like! With 40000 people applying to get into the 1500 intern positions – its a competitive exam in itself. Here are some thoughts why it makes sense to try. For entrepreneurs some ideas on how to attract and utilize top quality talent during internship. Link:

Negotiation is always a tough skill to pick. This is truly a differentiating skill when it comes to the tough competitive environment in which we are attempting to thrive today. A surprising revelation on the subject from the maverick Steve Jobs. This is a subject you learn by observing and apprenticing under someone. Here are some tips. Link:

I always take the example of retailing coffee to explain value proposition and perception in the mind of the consumers. Nowhere else in my opinion can you see transformation of trade so strikingly.  This article on how Starbucks approaches innovation crept into this list for this and many other reasons (which you may also discover!)

Telegram Service – End of the dot dash fullstop era!

July 15th 2013, brings to an end the telegram services in India. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of young people, GenY, GenZ telegram--621x414don’t even know what telegram means. And why would they? When communications industry has seen the fastest rate of change in the last two decades.

The telegram service was probably the fastest way to send information across the country  at one point in time. The standard response to the postman coming over with a telegram was one of dread and fear. As almost always telegram would bring the news of loss or sickness of someone in the family. This is the first memory for many of us. Then comes the pink sheet of hastily made up short forms of words!

In today’s fast world much of these seem arcane. But  there is no doubt that it reduced the time taken to convey important and urgent messages over long distances – and for many it was the only available option, as close as two decades ago. While the current generation will remember the existence of such a service, to many youngsters even the thought that this was an essential service can be surprising and shocking. Just as twenty years from now people wouldn’t believe we actually used floppy disk to transfer data.

Some thoughts that came to me as I mulled over this:

  1. Old always has to give way to the new
  2. Anything that is born must die
  3. Even for paradigm shifts in innovation to happen there has to be some incremental innovation
  4. Was Telegram the twitter of the non-internet era?

The lifespan of services and products is fast reducing. Which like all other things is both good and bad. Every single person has a lesson to learn from this. More so my dear entrepreneurial friends.  

Learning to innovate is important and learning to let go to innovate further is even more important. The closure of the telegram service reinforces this message while serving as a reminder that there are some basic laws of the universe that always work on every single thing!


Books and Me: The Little Black Book Of Innovation

Book Title:  The Little Black Book Of Innovation1422171728

Author: Scott D. Anthony

Innovation is a buzzword today. The term jugaad being associated with it has only catalyzed its usage in our geography. Almost anything that is slightly different is categorized under this subject. Innovation is also touted to be the game changing tool for emerging enterprises. While there are hundreds of books on innovation, the little black book of innovation is more like an introductory book for practitioners.  It brings  a good blend, of theoretical references and their practical adaptations. It demystifies numerous illusions that so many of us carry on the field with regards to the subject.  A very interesting chapter on the author’s selected ten innovation masters, also introduces the reader to more worlds and bodies of literature. While some aspects of the book tend to have American references, I believe it will not come in the way of grasping the essence of the book’s intention by a non-american reader.

The second part of the book contains a suggested 28 days innovation program. This four week program is structured around four broad groups or stages namely , discovering opportunities, blue printing ideas, assessing and testing ideas and moving forward.  The overall themes are then broken down into short day wise suggestions on behaviors and practices.  Each of those chapters contain interesting anecdotes, cases, how to tips, exercises and references for further reading.

The interesting trend that I am beginning to see in recent books including this, is the references to blogs and websites rather than papers and books. This in my opinion is bound to increase. There is also a list of interesting books put together by the author relating to the various topics discussed in the book.

Overall the book is an easy and interesting read.  It is written with practitioner in  mind and contains number of triggers which may make you put the book down and start doing something about innovation.  I am sure the author will be delighted if this happens!

Interesting Links This Week: 05-May-2013

Links that caught my attention this week range from a scholarly paper to the on-ground challenges with regards to innovationnature

a)  A paper that attempts to explain wealth gaps between West and ‘the Rest’ . Why was ‘Rest’ of the world struggling to catch up on entrepreneurship in the 19th century while West was pushing its way to success?

b) A very interesting write up on how art and science of delivery brought effectiveness not just to a company, not just to a community but to a country at large

c) An article around the moderated panel discussion on Innovation at Wharton Economic Summit 2013 around definition of innovation, its relationship to entrepreneurship and what is required to nurture it