Simply put, when entrepreneurs fail, they create waste.
A business idea can be conceived as a bundle of key assumptions about economic realities. A startup often fails because it is based on one or more faulty assumptions – but not necessarily. Valid assumptions do not guarantee success. Failure can often be a matter of execution, of insufficient capabilities, of incomplete market understanding, or simply a function of circumstances outside the control of the entrepreneur.
So, what happens to the valid assumptions of a business model that failed? Where do good ideas go when they go away?
In Dubai, I am not aware of any structured effort to formally retrieve and recycle the valuable intellectual capital created by unsuccessful enterprises. Nor am I familiar with any initiative to methodically identify the causes of failure and to articulate lessons intended to prevent similar mistakes in other enterprises.
Not capturing the wisdom of the unsuccessful is more than an oversight – it is a massive waste.
Cain & Co’s innovation incubator was conceived to reduce such waste by dispelling the stigma associated with failure, by making visible the value generated in failed attempts, and by reducing the cost of failure in Dubai – so entrepreneurs can fail more often. The last point will require a lot of help from regulators and key stakeholders in the city’s economic development.
Cain Innovation Credo – Fail early. Fail often.
Note – These words are not original. A google search has just revealed identical quotes from IDEO and The Economist, dating a mere few months ago. I greatly admire both organizations – yet, it would have been quite nice to be able to lay claim to what I thought was my own catchy original expression. Apparently, good ideas that are also successful have a tendency to be recycled effortlessly. Long live appropriation.