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I recently attended a talk by Saranee Boonritthongchai, the head of B2B and SMB marketing for Google Thailand. She generously shared some of the innovation principles that Google applies to their worldwide business and how you can weave them in your startup’s operating values –
|1. Be Ambitious: Grow 10x, Not 10%|
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|Google co-founder Larry Page famously said “Everyone is working on delivering the next 10%, but if you can work on delivering 10 times the solution, you have the chance to really change things.” In everything they do, Google aims big. Google employees have reported bringing things to management and being met with “this isn’t good enough. This…this is a 20% growth idea. Solid. But we want 10x, and you can do it.” How can your startup grow 10x?|
|2. Tackle Big Problems|
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|Following up on their desire for 10x growth, Google wants only to tackle big problems. Their formula for success is threefold –
Google calls these kinds of big opportunities “moon shots”. An example of this process is in Google’s desire to focus on mobile users in the developing world. To do so, Google developed a “lite” version of their search results to have fewer images and load faster. They operate a testing area at their headquarters in Mountain View, California with 2G only data speeds to simulate the user experience in countries with poor infrastructure or slower connections — reaching emerging markets with a full-fledged internet experience is a huge opportunity.
|3. Put People First|
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|Google believes that first and foremost, innovation is made of people. Therefore people are the most important part of any business, and consequently, hiring is the most important thing you do. Google’s solution to attracting and retaining top talent is to hire the smartest people they can find and provide them with a creativity fostering environment. As you scale your nimble startup, lay a solid foundation with the best people you can muster.|
|4. Always Focus on Your User|
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|As technology evolves, what used to be amazing is now expected. As an early stage startup, you must exceed user expectations to wow your way in to the market. Remember: you’re the underdog.
Focusing on your user can come in many forms, but one famous example from Google’s colorful development past is the implementation of what they refer to as the “knowledge panel”. The knowledge panel provides in-depth information that appears on the right side of the screen during select searches.
This might include searches for celebrities or well known personalities, restaurants, city information, etc. To implement the knowledge panel meant that ads could no longer appear in this space. Google engineers discovered that this change would result in a $100 million reduction in revenue. This decision was brought to the top — to company leadership and co-founders. They decided to forgo the near term revenue and do what was best for the user. Ultimately, revenue from additional users far exceeded the $100 million forgone.
|5. Default to Open|
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|In most things they do, Google defaults to open. Open, honest communication with investors, employees and customers, mostly open source code and projects and open platforms for innovators to create on. For example, Google has had tremendous success with its map product being 100% open to user submissions –
How can you apply Google’s innovation principles in your startup? Let us know what you’re up to in the comments or at the next Startup Stir!
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