The Renaissance Innovator

Thoughts, examples and updates on the Renaissance Innovation Method

Posts by Serguei Netessine

A Lean Startup Approach to International Development

Posted on December 16, 2014


In a recent blog post that first appeared on Harvard Business Blogging Network we discuss International Development. Trying to find solutions for the problems faced by people living at the bottom of the pyramid is frustrating and hugely expensive; experts say that three out of four development projects in Africa fail. PlayPump, a children’s carousel designed to help pump clean water in Africa is a typical example. Despite getting $16 million in funding, it failed to gain traction.

The Geolocation is Enabling Retail Business Model Innovation

Posted on November 13, 2014


As we describe in our recent Blog on INSEAD@Knowledge, in category after category, Amazon has steadily eroded the market share of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail chains, which seem to be in a state of irreversible decline. Much of the online giant’s competitive advantage is based on its access to and mastery of rich customer data.  Traditional retailers know relatively little about their customers, unless they have a loyalty card and actually buy something – and even this knowledge comes late, after a purchase is made.  They have no way to cross sell, recommend new products, or target advertising.  Unlike Amazon, they can’t tell if a potential customer visits the store or passes by it without buying anything. But all that is about to change because…

Innovating the process of product innovation

Posted on June 3, 2014


The iPhone 6 is due in September. And this forthcoming event stimulated our recent blog post on Harvard Blog Network. The build-up to its launch will almost certainly follow the Steve Jobs M.O. Device specifications will remain a closely guarded secret until the launch date (unless an employee forgets his phone at a bar). There will be long lines at stores. We probably won’t be able to actually get the product for a couple of months after the launch. And, of course, users (we) will have no input into what we actually get; Steve Jobs’ dictum that “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them” is still an act of faith for Apple’s management. But is this the only way…

Is Facebook Paying Too Much for WhatsApp?

Posted on February 21, 2014


We could not miss the news of acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook, so we covered it in the recent post on HBR Blogging Network.  With $19 billion, Facebook could have purchased Sony or Gap or four aircraft carriers.  Instead, it bought WhatsApp, a tiny startup that so far had accumulated barely $60 million in funding, mostly from Sequoia.  This is nuts, you might say; although the world of mobile messaging is upon us, that is an awful lot of money. But think about what exactly Facebook is buying:

Why Large Companies Struggle With Business Model Innovation

Posted on September 28, 2013


After a brief summer hiatus, we are bmarkerBulback and blogging!  As we describe in the recent blog post on HBR Network, innovation success stories are all strikingly similar: a bright idea, supported by a zealot-innovator who sees it through. The windfall of goodies follows.  But failures happen for all sorts of reasons, and they often occur even when the idea is sound.

A Business Model for Bangladesh

Posted on May 21, 2013


As we discuss in our recent blog post on HBR Blog Network, the death of over 800 people in the collapse of Rana Plaza, a building with garment factories in Bangladesh, spurred widespread outrage over working conditions in offshore factories. In the search for blame, many commentators point to the absence of building codes, lack of workplace safety rules, and the greed of US corporations.  Many of the solutions proposed are around paying people more to manufacture in the USA. But however well intentioned the ideas are, this is not the best use of one of the most productive workforces in the world. The true solution, we think, lies in understanding the changed nature of modern supply chains and identifying new business models better…