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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 1, 201805:10 AM EST

In search of innovation? Be patient

Firms that help business find solutions offer insight at the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

In a climate where innovation seems to be moving businesses forward rapidly, Mike Potts has a message for you: Slow down.

“Innovation is not simple. It’s not quick,” said Potts, founder and CEO of Jacksonville product design and development firm feature[23].

“If you’re not patient, it’s never going to happen,” he said Tuesday during a discussion about innovation at the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville.

Potts, who started his company 10 years ago, said clients sometimes want quick results but he advises them a successful innovation may take years to implement.

“If you’re not in it for five years, don’t give me the first six months. We’re just wasting your time,” he said.

Kevin Calloway, managing partner of IJHANA.

Potts was joined in the discussion at Jacksonville University’s Davis College of Business by Kevin Calloway, managing partner of digital application developer IJHANA.

Both said it’s important for their firms to find innovative solutions that help a client’s business rather than build a new business around an innovation.

“Innovation cannot be your business model,” said Potts.

“The first thing we have to do is understand your business better than you,” said Calloway.

Like feature[23], IJHANA takes a patient approach. Calloway said his engineers have a 30-hour workweek in which they focus on specific tasks, and then take 10 hours a week to be creative.

“The idea is to free up their minds to not focus on the everyday problem,” he said.

“Innovation is about learning,” said Potts. “If you can’t learn, you’re not going to build the right software.”

As a business learns, it may discover that its idea isn’t going to work or won’t be able to attract customers to make it worthwhile.

If that happens, “somebody needs to be mature and kill that activity,” Potts said.

“They really need a mentor to say there’s not a business here.”

Potts said Jacksonville entrepreneurs could benefit from more mentors to help guide them. He believes it’s more important than finding more venture capital investors.

“It’s not the money. It’s the mentorships,” he said.

Whether innovation is having a significant economic impact on Northeast Florida is difficult to quantify.

“There are so many questions about the employment aspect,” said Daniel Gilham, a financial adviser and president of the Economic Roundtable. Innovation can create jobs or eliminate them as new technology replaces work done by hand.

Potts does not think Jacksonville should look at innovation as a job creator.

“It’s not going to create new jobs. It’s going to create better jobs,” he said.


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