S8 E10 Innovation is different in Startups. Frameworks for finding business opportunities with Jeremy Gray artwork
Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray

S8 E10 Innovation is different in Startups. Frameworks for finding business opportunities with Jeremy Gray

  • S8E10
  • 12:59
  • January 25th 2022

Episode 10 Innovation is different in Startups. Frameworks for finding business opportunities.

How can you find good, innovative ideas that lead to business opportunities? Three exploration frameworks— changing what doesn’t work, making things easier for customers, and making things more affordable—can reduce the risk and uncertainty associated with new projects.

Start-up is a temporary status—a term for an organization whose vital objective is to launch a new business model or open up a new market. For such companies, the model that identifies four primary sources of innovation—product, process, business, and customer—is inappropriate, an obstacle to the development of truly transformational ideas. Start-ups look at innovation from a different angle. After considering the needs of a particular industry or market, they deploy a new plan to improve the industry (incremental innovation) or create an entirely new market (disruptive innovation).

Innovative ideas, by themselves, are not enough; they are just one element of the journey towards market domination. Just as a drug can cure one disease but not another, start-ups have to apply innovation in an intelligent way that actually solves their customers’ problems. This is the main difference between how start-ups and traditional companies approach innovation.

The concept of innovation encompasses three fundamental characteristics:

For the consumer, innovation must always result in something new. If you compare what existed before with the new creations, you should see a positive advance.

Innovation doesn’t always involve the incorporation of new technologies. Value can be created for customers in various non-technical ways: designing a special customer experience, applying the low-cost concept to other consumer services, or introducing an unusual distribution model.

Innovation must have commercial value; if it yields no benefits, it’s just an idea.

Innovative ideas, by themselves, are not enough; they are just one element of the journey towards market domination. Start-ups have to apply innovation in an intelligent way that actually solves their customers’ problems.

Three exploration frameworks

For innovative entrepreneurs, the process of solving the customer’s problems begins with observing people and keeping abreast of technological changes. The next step is to ask whether there are any business opportunities that solve existing problems or address existing needs, taking into account that the proposal must be relevant and valuable to customers.

By combining this reflection with the three fundamental elements of innovation, we can define three exploration frameworks that allow start-ups to generate ideas that are both innovative and aligned with the elusive taste of the customer.

Framework 1: Change what doesn’t work

In this framework, the idea is to innovate incrementally. Borrow an existing idea or well-known service, assess its problems, and figure out how to do it better. Many kinds of attributes can be improved; adding new functions to the product is not the only way forward. The most interesting approaches often have to do with reducing or eliminating inefficiencies related to time, cost, risk, or effort. To be clear, “doing better” means more than just a simple product update.

Framework 2: Make things easier for customers

Being disruptive is clearly more difficult, since it involves disregarding known problems and preconceived notions in order to see things in a new light. This framework requires a certain degree of abstraction; rather than improving a defined product, you’re finding a new way of doing something.

Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems with Jeremy Gray

After over 30 years in the MNC corporate world at the C-suite or General Manager level I am now focused on helping Entrepreneurs and SME's succeed. Using the lessons learned from working in Europe, North America and Asia while as an MNC executive along with 7 years supporting smaller businesses I bring this knowledge to my listeners. The topics will change but the message will remain the same, how to profitably grow your business.

Jeremy joined the IBGR.Network to build his next career focusing on developing strategies that accelerate revenue, profit, and long term growth. The size or age of your business doesn't matter, only the size of your dreams. He can help you get there with:

  • Mergers and Acquisition Support - building your company to sell? Looking to grow from buying your competitors?
  • Business Turnarounds - your dream is failing and you don't know where to start?
  • FP&A, Budgeting and Cash Flow - profitability is driven by the ability to manage cash flow!
  • Staff Development - are you the only competent person around and success is possible if surrounded by equals?
  • Strategic Planning - how to plan a future that is achievable and achieve it!


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Jeremy Gray avatar
Jeremy Gray
Owner, 3 Continent Consulting Pte Ltd

    "In business set backs are inevitable – defeat is not. If you have a difficult problem let me help you to find a practical solution"

    Jeremy has over 35 years of experience in senior Finance roles and General Management based in Europe, USA and most recently Asia. He is an experienced CFO who has helmed troubled operations in the USA, China, Japan and, turning their poor performance into profitable businesses.

    ​He has also led M&A projects across the globe including an acquisition in China, that was a first for his MNC employer at the time. 

    Jeremy enjoys sharing his wealth of experience and knowledge with others, having participated in CFO Innovation Conferences in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Bangkok. It has become a passion for him to use the expertise he has honed over the years to support SME owners with revenue and profit enhancement programs while imparting strategic development skills to help grow their businesses. 

    Jeremy broadcasts LIVE from Singapore