Pipkin started his company in the 1980s in his parents garage and the innovation has never stopped — from the earliest days of computing to today’s Internet of things and on to tomorrow.
The company capitalized on the early explosion in personal computing, selling devices that connected computers to printers. Through the years the company has kept pace if not stayed ahead of the changing tech landscape. In 2014, Fast Co. named Belkin one of the 10 most innovative companies specializing in the “Internet of things” thanks to its Wemo line of Internet-connected home accessories.
Belkin is still private, has 1300 employees, a billion in sales and Pipkin keeps a very low profile.
He’s low on ego and high on hands-on philanthropy, as opposed to just writing checks.
Although Chen is focused on turnarounds, his approach and execution is applicable to any boss who wants a culture that attracts good people, motivates them to become great and retains them because they believe in the vision, as well as enhancing innovation and juicing initiative.
As Chen says at the end of his post,
All in all, a turnaround culture is one that enables everyone to pitch in to get things done. That requires focusing on a goal, and empowering employees to take risks and go the extra mile.
However, with the financial support of 48,971 backers, Coolest Cooler has raised a whopping $10,362,461 — making it 20,721% funded. And the campaign doesn’t end until Friday.
The reinvention of the boring, unsexy butter knife is cool enough to attract boring non-shoppers with no little-to-no interest in the trendy—such as my sister. The attraction comes from the fact that it solves an annoying problem—something entrepreneurs should give more thought to doing.
Four college guys have developed a solution for women to a problem created by guys. It’s a badly needed product that gives women a simple way to know if their drink has been doctored.
The polish — called “Undercover Colors” — will change shades if it becomes exposed to a drugged drink. (…) Simply dip your finger in the liquid. If the polish changes colors, you’ll know not to keep sipping.
The giant that re-imagined one of the most necessary and embarrassing products on the market today or the ad agency that created a hip way to get the word out.
The company is Kimberly Clark, the product is adult diapers and the agency is Ogilvy & Mather”s New York office.
Adult diapers are used by all ages, often due to injury, and the younger the user the greater the embarrassment at the check stand.
Nearly half of those who experience some form of urinary incontinence are under 50, according the brand. Among the causes are, for women, weakened pelvic muscles that can stem from pregnancy and childbirth and, for men, prostate cancer.
A recent Reuters report found that the majority of Silicon Valley startup founders that receive Series A funding come from the same pedigreed cohort: either they previously worked at a large, well-known tech firm, a well-connected smaller tech company, they previously created a successful startup, or they come from one of three universities—Stanford, Harvard, or MIT.
It’s been 15 years since I first wrote about the proclivity of managers to hire people like themselves and more over the years showing it leads to homophily and the negative impact that has on a company.
It seems it’s no different for investors.
They are funding people like themselves who were raised, educated and worked along paths similar to their own who they either know or are introduced to them by a friend.
“Like a lot of the investments [Instacart] that have come our way, a friend of a friend talked to us about it, and told us about it, and encouraged the founder and the CEO to come and chat with us. One thing led to another.” –Sequoia partner Mike Moritz
When you fund from a homogenous group, no matter where they are, creativity and innovation are watered down, because those groups tend to be insular and badly interbred talking mostly to each other.
If you’re fishing from a pond of rich white guys, you’re only going to get ideas that address the needs of rich white guys.
A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read allIf the Shoe Fits posts here
Are you working to build a culture of innovation in your startup?
Do you live the startup mindset of 100 hour weeks, all night hackathons, 24/7 availability and no time for vacations?
If you answered ‘yes’ to both you’re in trouble, because a yes to the second sooner or later will nullify the first.
According to Marc Barros, co-founder and former CEO of Contour, there are five actions you can take to avoid killing off your golden egg, i.e., your culture of innovation.
Here they are, with my caveats (follow the link to read the originals).
Offer Unlimited Vacation: while this isn’t always possible, and may not even work, making sure your people, including founders, take real vacations, which means no email, texts or emergencies. They should last a minimum of three days, but a week is much better. And if having you/them gone for that time will really crash and burn the company you have bigger problems than you realize.
Let Employees Work Remotely: in addition to working remotely physically whenever possible be sure to provide an environment that promotes mental remoteness. In other words, they don’t have to think/work/act like you to achieve the desired results.
Ditch the Meetings: make sure that those you do have are short and productive.
Nix Department Goals: goals at all levels—department, team, personal, should always focus on what needs to happen to achieve specific, major, annual company goals (never more than three).
Give Plenty of Feedback: just don’t make giving constant feedback an excuse or cover for micromanaging.
One of the biggest actions that Barros doesn’t mention, but is implicit in what he does, is trust.
If bosses don’t believe that their people really do care that the company succeeds and trusts them to make it happen then they will be unable to implement any of this.
In the comments section, Mick Thornton, who worked at Safeco Insurance (definitely large and definitely old-line), talks about the success of the team he was on.
The biggest keys to success for our team was a manager that understood broad goals saying things like “Here’s what we want the end to look like, now go figure it out. Let me know if things start to slide or go south, otherwise work how you want to meet the deliverable.”
Open source lends itself to a great culture with a few caveats.
All of the approaches and actions described are based on 100% superlative, open, honest, direct, no-game communications, with no exceptions, which aren’t typical of the human race.
Millennials are impatient and will vote more quickly with their feet; HOWEVER, that may change as they marry and take on mortgages, kids, etc. High risk is more acceptable when you have little to lose.
The larger/faster a company grows the more difficult to keep hiring for cultural fit; and
the more difficult it is to keep the micro cultures that form under each leader (whether manager or not) aligned.
There is an underlying problem with stories about cultures like GitHub’s even with in-depth explanations of how and why they work.
Too often, founders who crave the results will try to implement the strategy without taking time to lay the groundwork.