Category Archives: Innovation

The Rise of the eSports Economy

Competitive video gaming has existed for decades, as both amateur competitions between friends in suburban basements and professional level tournaments with large audiences and cash prizes. Now, gaming seems poised to take a major leap forward, gaining the legitimacy given to other organized competitions through the establishment of governing bodies and an expanding infrastructure catering to players and spectators alike. A recent local radio segment brought my attention to the rapid growth in collegiate eSports programs, revealing the breadth of interest and investment in the gaming economy.
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Augmented Reality: The Future is Ready to Download

In our previous exploration of augmented reality technology, Inside the Innovative Mind: Virtual & Augmented Reality, we took a look at the origins of AR and how it might evolve in ways that connect people to their surroundings in new and innovative ways. Today, less than a year later, the explosion of AR apps is already offering a broad range of new experiences to users. From enhanced gameplay in real-world environments to consumer/product interactions and even clinical applications in medicine and pharmacology, AR is making incredible strides.

Let’s take a look at some of the products of this new technology that are reshaping how we interact with the world around us.
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Is Blockchain the Building Block of the Future?

I recently stumbled across a quote that captured my imagination by speaking to today’s entrepreneurial mindset and unleashing the future possibilities of innovation and hard work. Tapscott Group CEO Don Tapscott, during an interview with a tech writer for McKinsey & Company, said, “I’m not a futurist. I think the future’s not something to be predicted – it’s something to be achieved.”

Tapscott’s words should resonate with any successful innovator. We learn through experience that while ideas are important, the execution of the idea builds the true foundation for success. Too many good ideas have been compromised by faulty execution or overshadowed by others who got there first. Tapscott reminds us that prediction is not as powerful as action – that the future is built by those who take the first leap forward.

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The MultiCultural Edge: Who Are Tomorrow’s Super Consumers?

Recent Nielsen data confirms a seismic shift that is occurring in the demographics of American consumers. First released in 2015, Nielsen’s report on The Multicultural Edge revealed that multicultural consumers are “the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.” While Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and other multicultural groups currently make up around 40% of the population, they are on track to be a numeric majority by 2044.

This young and growing segment of the consumer population is already driving changing trends in groceries and beverages and is poised to greatly impact markets such as technology, entertainment, and fashion and beauty as well. This segment of consumers offers an exciting opportunity and a challenge for today’s brand-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators. How will we respond?
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What Kickstarter Helped Startups Achieve in 2016

Innovators and startups take many different paths on their journey from idea to execution. As a founder of SparkLabKC, an accelerator program in Kansas City, MO, I was privileged to witness many of the ways in which scrappy startup founders pursued funding. These entrepreneurs, driven by their unique vision for the future, work tirelessly to share that vision with the rest of us.

Of course, they can’t do it without funding. While the current investment climate makes it possible for many young companies to achieve the dream of landing venture capital or other major investments, not all startups are in a position to avail themselves of traditional methods. Where can they turn?
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How Successful Brands Evolve Over Time

A brand is a promise you make to your customers. It’s a hallmark of the consistency, quality, and efficacy of a company’s products or services. A brand is also an aspirational statement – we’ve encouraged brand-makers to ask themselves “Who do our customers want to be?”. A brand at its best both answers and fulfills this question.

But what happens as a brand ages and evolves? As a brand weathers multiple decades of innovation and market variation, change isn’t just an inevitability, it’s a mandate: evolve or risk being left behind. Here’s a look at three brands that have transitioned successfully over multiple decades of existence, with an eye towards what today’s brand-makers can learn from their example.
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Inside The Innovative Mind: Virtual & Augmented Reality

2016 has been a banner year for consumer Virtual Reality technology. The Oculus Rift (arguably the first successful VR platform) was released earlier this year and the well-reviewed Oculus Touch controller arrived this month just in time for the holiday season. Microsoft, Playstation, Google, and other big names have also released VR products. While VR technology has largely captured the public imagination in the context of gaming, there are many innovative possibilities for its use and development in the near future.

What can innovative minds learn from the long history of efforts to develop effective virtual reality technology, and what new possibilities does it create?
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