February 14, 2012 | By Bill Gates
Big Ideas, Big Lessons: Bill Gross' Idealab
True innovation is difficult to achieve consistently over time, but Idealab’s Bill Gross has been starting ground-breaking companies since he was a teenager. Take a look behind the scenes to see what it takes to bring a company to market.
I’m an optimist when it comes to innovation – I’m convinced that the world’s biggest problems require innovative solutions that arise through “social investing”. Bill Gross along with the team at Idealab continues to impress me, year in and year out, as one of the most innovative incubators in the world. It’s not just that they seem to understand innovation, though that is undeniably true. Bill’s desire to experiment with multiple social investments and innovations are a model for the rest of us.
My friendship with Bill gives me the unique opportunity to get a peek in to his methods. It has provided an opportunity for us to learn about how Idealab brings teams of people together to test new ideas and incubate dozens of companies under one roof.
Gross describes a few of these principles in action:
"Encourage experimentation, embrace failure as learning."
Employees don't fear losing their job if an idea doesn't work – it allows them to take risks.
"Bold ideas are important, and can fail."
Try bold things that have a high chance of not working – it's still learning.
"The marketplace isn't always ready for a new idea."
Old ideas that are shelved can come back if the market has changed.
"We get especially excited about the things that are the white space of what other people wouldn't do."
It's important to go in places where other people might not want to venture – the best ideas come at these intersections.