Risk and failure: the keys to innovation - Mobile World Live

Risk and failure: the keys to innovation

27 FEB 2014

LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2014: Being unafraid of failure and taking risks are key elements when looking to innovate, according to the heads of several companies speaking in the final keynote of Mobile World Congress.

John Hering, co-Founder and CEO of security software company Lookout, said the company decided to focus on developing for Android when BlackBerry and Nokia were the dominant mobile platforms.

“We bet the company on Android and iOS and that turned out to be the most important decision we made,” Hering said.

Espousing the hacker culture at Lookout, Hering added that those looking to innovate should “build technology that do things people couldn’t have imagined” and “focus on what you’re great at and on who you are, and scale that”.

Michelle Gallen, CEO of Shhmooze, spoke about how her experience of recovering from encephalitis, a rare brain virus, helped her to develop innovative businesses.

As her brain adjusted during her recovery — a process called brain plasticity — Gallen failed many times to complete a simple task, such as making a cup of tea or walking to the end of the garden.

“I learned that I had to take risks. Innovation is not a miracle, innovation for me is very much part of a cycle of trying and failing,” she said.

Gallen has since developed Irish Talk, an online service to help people learn to speak the Irish language, and Shhmooze, a platform that uses public information to inform users of colleagues or contacts attending events.

Pointing out that tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook have all failed during their history, Gallen said: “Trying and failing is the absolute key to innovation.”

Lance Howarth, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said his company was inspired to develop its small programmable computer by failing applications to study computer science at university.

“Put things in the right hands and support them and you have the opportunity to improve a generation and democratise technology,” he noted.

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Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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