Doodling to Help New Entrepreneurs Avoid Mistakes

by Chad McAllister

Mistakes are a curious thing. I try to avoid mistakes, yet recognize that some of the best learning comes through mistakes and failures. It is said that when Thomas Edison was asked by a reporter what it felt like to have failed 10,000 times to make an electric light bulb, he emphatically replied he not failed– he had found several thousand ways that won’t work (from an interview conducted in 1890 for Harper’s Monthly Magazine).

Mistakes are stepping stones of experience. As we make each one, we place another stone, building upon our knowledge of what won’t work and learning more about what will work.

Kriti Vichare is an innovator who has put her mistakes to good use, helping first-time entrepreneurs learn what not to do. She also has an innovative take on how to accomplish this – through doodling. She creates cartoons and bite-sized pieces of wisdom about the mistakes new entrepreneurs too often make. Today she is the Director of Innovation at the United States Postal Service and previously worked for PepsiCo as a Senior Marketing Manager and Kraft Foods as an Associate Brand Manager. But, her experience as an entrepreneur taught her the most about innovation and she shares what she learned through her cartoons, which have appeared in Forbes and numerous other publications. An example is the the Entrepreneur’s Maze, which likens the journey of an entrepreneur to a rat trying to find its way through a maze… (Entrepreneur Fail)

“of dead ends, shiny distractions, competitors who are more experienced and little tastes of success which keep the entrepreneur going.”

Entrepreneur Fail for Innovators and Product Managers

I interviewed Kriti to learn about her hard-earned lessons. See link for podcast interview below.

Validate First

Many innovators dream of leaving the corporate world and starting their own business. Kriti made that dream a reality, with plans to dive into developing a product. She skipped validating her product idea with potential customers, instead opting to start on development as fast as possible. After floundering for 6 months, she read the “Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries. Her previous experiences had already taught her about the importance of validating a product idea with customers before building the product, but as a new entrepreneur, the lure to rush to product development is intoxicating.

She realized the importance of validating the product concept and applying the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach Ries described in his book.

The goal of the MVP is to develop the smallest product (think fewest features) that solves a problem customers are willing to pay for. The MVP approach also creates the most effective marketing approach – a great product that offers compelling value to customers.

Listen to the interview with Kriti Vichare on The Everyday Innovator Podcast.

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Chad McAllister, PhD is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow him on Twitter.

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