The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Posts by Karan Girotra

Renaissance Innovation @ INSEAD Knowledge

Posted on June 1, 2011

Check out  this  interview we did for INSEAD knowledge, our in-house business publication. The write-up and the companion video (embedded after the break)  summarize the key aspects of our theory of Renaissance Innovation and we answer some common questions related to the practice of Renaissance Innovation.  Regular readers of the blog will notice that we mention many of the example that we already blogged about here. We find that videos are  a great tool to liven up discussion in the boardroom or classroom, and we welcome you all to use the video to initiate the uninitiated… Click through to see the video interview…

Music to your Ears!

Posted on May 15, 2011

Record Labels  (and content creators, in general)  have  faced many storms over the last 15 years. With the movement to digital content and the industry’s slow and grudging  adaptation to it, the industry has basically had Apple and others steal its lunch. The traditional model of picking artists and investing big in them has failed to deliver the goods. But now,  a  pioneering Dutch company SellAband  is  challenging the traditional business models in this industry and hoping to reclaim some of the former glory– by changing the risks inherent in content creation businesses! How?

GroupOn: Rebirth of the Coupon Book

Posted on May 2, 2011

Much has been written about the rapid growth and success of GroupOn. Every week seems to bring a new GroupOn copycat. And it is for good reason— No other startup has gone more quickly from launch to $1 billion+ in valuation except YouTube (12 months), which Groupon achieved in 16 months with its  $135 million infusion  in  April 2010. Just as unprecedented is what  followed  this valuation– after turning down an offer from  Google that valued it at $6 billion  last December, the Chicago firm is now eying a  US$25 billion IPO ! Some would explain this with the ready-to-explode bubble in startup valuations, and others say this is the impact of “Social”. While we see some merit in both arguments, we feel all that is written about Groupon has…

Fast Enough to Catch up with Fashion

Posted on April 23, 2011

Some of you may have heard of  Fast Fashion, the practice of quickly bringing  designs from the runway to stores. This strategy helped upstarts like ZARA, supplant some of the most-established leaders of apparel retail. The strategy has now been emulated by many others like Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21, etc.  Today, the strategy is recognized as being more responsive to customer trends, but it is often derided for its inefficiency.  When ZARA started out many practitioners were puzzled by many counter-intuitive choices in the design of this business model– production in high cost locations, super expensive air freight and logistics, limited sales, etc.  As a consequence of all these expenses, practitioners expected  ZARA’s products would have to be much more expensive than traditional retailers to cover the…

Zipcar Zips Ahead on First Day of Trading

Posted on April 16, 2011

Some of you might have read about the recent IPO of the car rental company Zipcar. On Thursday April 14th, zipcar car shares surged 56% on the first day of trading after an expanded initial public offering. This values the car rental company at US$1.21 Billion, at 6.5 times last years sales, more than seven times higher than the multiple of 0.9 for its competitor, Hertz! So why do the markets love Zipcar so much more than Hertz?  How does a company shake-up a staid, boring industry like car rentals and be valued at multiples more akin of much higher growth industries? You guessed it– by  identifying a renaissance innovation!

From a Dorm Room to US$14.6 Billion

Posted on April 16, 2011

In the early 80’s a pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin, by the name of Michael Dell started an informal business upgrading computers in his dorm.  By 2011, this business catapulted his net worth to  US$14.6 Billion. More interestingly, this student did not invent any new computer technology, did not attack any new market; yet he completely revolutionized the computer industry, essentially driving mega-corporations like IBM out of the business. At the root of this was a new operating model, a renaissance innovation…

Making the World a Better Place

Posted on April 8, 2011

Getting drivers to switch from gasoline cars to eco-friendly electric vehicles has long been a goal of policy-makers and governments. But all attempts at attacking the mass market have largely failed. Despite rapid advances in battery technology, electric vehicle’s limited driving range and high up-front costs have all held back mass adoption. Some companies like Tesla Motors, have invested heavily in improving electric vehicle technology, but have not met with much success. But one company,  Better Place took a different route and has the best chance in a generation at mass-adoption of electric vehicles. Rather than invest in technological innovation, it decided to take a decidedly different route, innovating the operating model around electric vehicles– the renaissance innovation route.