Start-up Grind’s (@startupgrinddc) fireside chat with Gary Shapiro (@GaryShapiro), moderated by Brian Park (@BrianbPark), was full of insights from Gary. The second part of this blog series is going to talk about his book, Ninja Innovation, which is focused on the creation of ideas.

What does Ninja Innovation mean? Gary likes to use this term when describing how small companies can be extremely innovative. He describes them as small, scrappy, and thinking outside the box. He believes that the best killer strategy for a small company to have is flexibility. How does he classify flexibility?

Gary pointed out that there are many circumstances that will happen when you are operating a business:

Circumstances will change

Information will never be perfect

You will take risks…and they may not work in your favor

The important thing to understand is that if a risk is taken, and you can adapt to change, then you have the sense to abort the mission at hand and save your company from folding over a bad decision.

A couple other nuggets from Gary:

  1. Plan for the long term and not always look at the short term.

  2. Try to make a profit immediately, but not at the expense of the long term  

  3. Having a long term visual is what CEOs sometimes sacrifice for stock price valuations and bonuses

Office Chatter As A Company Valuation Method

The job of a CEO is not to be focused on the day-to-day activities. Gary says that if your employees are talking about the future then your company is going somewhere. If they are talking about the present, then you have work to do but you will make it. Then he drove the point home, if your employees are talking about the past, and how things used to be, then the company is heading down a bad road. 

Patent Trolls

This last topic that Gary mentioned should be interesting to all start-ups. He was very intense on the subject of patent trolls because CEA is working hard to protect their member companies against them. The Innovation Act of 2013 was just passed through the House of Representatives and now sits in the hands of the US Senate.

So what is a patent troll? Gary gave an example:

Hundreds if not thousands of components go into building a commercial printer. Well at some point, one of these components violated a patent in design, application, or use. Guess what? The patent troll now owns that patent and you as the startup, owns that printer. 

You get a letter in the mail telling you to pay $80,000 for your crimes and if you don’t you are threatened with legislation. Because you bought a printer and did the unthinkable….printed something.

This is capitalism at its most inefficient. Bullies building nothing and getting rich, startups slowing down or going away, and innovation put on the back burner. CEA and a number of other organizations are trying to put an end to the patent troll black market.

Check out Startup Grind’s next event on January 21, 2014 and in the meantime:

Take the initiative, take a risk, be successful.