Earlier this week, I received a press release about a friend. His name is Steve Epner and he’s an expert in entrepreneurship and innovation. He’s not in our industry but there are actually quite a few people who read this blog who know him. There are a few other reasons I want to mention him, as well.

The other day, there was a particular response to my post on influencers:  https://outonalims.com/2015/12/16/who-are-our-industry-influencers/#comment-5435  In this response, there is one particular quote that struck me, “I think the more visionary folks are in other industries. Our LI industry pretty much follows rather than leads.” In a way, it’s odd to think that some of the companies that are the biggest in our industry got there by being followers. In fact, in past conversations with one particular one, that particular one is actually quite proud that they do nothing at all that’s new but merely jump onto whatever they see that others are doing. If you grab what others are doing and do it more completely or better, there’s a definite place in the world for that. However, we also need to have some innovators around.

Back to Steve Epner:  Steve is long past his initial career. He started a successful business and, years ago, sold it in order to retire. Since then, he’s done nothing but get himself involved in what sounds like yet more and more work, but he’s become dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation. After teaching entrepreneurship at Saint Louis University he was snatched-up by Boeing where he seemed to do nothing but get involved with cooler and cooler ideas as, according to Steve, Boeing is a place where cool things happen as a regular occurrence rather than by accident. Now, he’s on to his newest adventure.

For those of you reading who are interested, here’s the press release:

“News Release

January 7, 2016

Steve Epner announced that, as of January 8, he will be providing Corporate Entrepreneurship services through a new firm: The Startup Within.

Steve has pulled together a team of innovators to provide ideation, validation and acceleration services across the country. We want to help existing businesses reignite their entrepreneurial spirit. The other three founders are: Ken Herold, previously the CKO at HOK; Pat McGauley, previously VP of Innovation at Anheuser Busch; and Dan Lauer, a serial entrepreneur best known for Waterbabies (celebrating 25 years of success).

Epner is stepping down as the Entrepreneur in Residence in Boeing’s Phantom Works Ventures organization. Epner was tasked with driving a creative and entrepreneurial mindset by working with Boeing employees. His background teaching Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Saint Louis University, John Cook School of Business made him a perfect match for this role.

Epner will continue to manage the St. Louis Innovation Roundtable which he founded about 3 years ago. Boeing, MasterCard, Express Scripts, Monsanto, Emerson, Nestle Purina, and many others participate. The first full day conference on Corporate Innovation is already oversubscribed. “We limited attendance to 30 executives to ensure a robust conversation.”

‘“We have created a wonderful environment for Innovation leaders to get together and discuss common problems.”’ Meetings are held 6 mornings per year (7:30 to 9:00) and often include a tour of a hosting company’s operation. ‘“One of the favorites has been the experimental kitchen at AB Mauri.”’ The group is open to company leaders who are tasked with Innovation for their organization.

Epner may be contacted at Steve@TheStartupWithin.com.”

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

5 Thoughts to “Innovation, Press Release and Steve Epner”

  1. Gloria, you commented: ‘In a way, it’s odd to think that some of the companies that are the biggest in our industry got there by being followers. In fact, in past conversations with one particular one, that particular one is actually quite proud that they do nothing at all that’s new but merely jump onto whatever they see that others are doing.’

    I would point out something else that is odd. They are proud of how they do nothing but follow others and yet they claim to be the leaders. Who are they leading? I think their definition of leadership is pure marketing hype with no substance. I think they subscribe to the idea: just say it loud and often and everyone will believe you.

    That of course is an old tactic. Check out this quote:

    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
    ― Joseph Goebbels

  2. You just don’t have these types of people in the LI industry. I don’t know why but I suspect that there is just not sufficient money to make it worthwhile to the flash entrepreneur. Look at our industry, is there any star CEO? Do we have any flash keynote speakers? Nope. It is all about as dull as a lims screen shot.

    Dull is fine as long as it just works. I think that is the basic mentality. LIMS are not things that people want to rush out and buy. They are necessities to labs and the more they just do their job, the less the users have to think about them. Flashy, star driven entrepreneurs and CEO’s go where the bucks are at and it is not in our industry. Else, why would HP have dumped their LIMS product, why did Beckman, why did a whole series of large, public companies essentially shelve their LIMS product lines? The reason is that it just does not have the bucks/profits. The LIMS industry is made up of hundreds of privately owned, quiet companies just busy serving clients and there is so much competition from like minded folks, that the profits are kept in check and thus no big attraction to the flash visionary folks. No one is getting rich on LIMS except for maybe the owners of a few current high flier LI companies.

    Anyway that is just my thoughts on it. I would love to see examples of true innovations in the LI industry and if you can point one out that is not just a knock off from another company that did it years before, I will truly be surprised and pleased. I just don’t see any Steve Jobs in our industry or even a Steve Epner. Honestly, I am not sure our industry needs them or wants them. The market is conservative and skeptical of such “Heros”. They want solutions that just work and reduce costs and want their lims vendors to keep up with technology so that they can bring those benefits to the users.

  3. sepner

    Having taught Corporate Entrepreneurship for years, I hate hearing about industries that just are not entrepreneurial. Anyone who remembers Smith Corona (once one of the largest typewriter manufacturers in the world), knows they did not think word processing would ever replace secretaries at their typewriters. Kodak did not think there was a future for digital cameras. And there are many other examples of once proud companies that are only shadows of their former selves or gone completely.

    I think there may be a goldmine in LI – but only if someone is willing to look beyond what you do today. Somewhere, there is a visionary within the industry who will take the ball and run with it. My challenge to everyone reading this post:: Why not be that person?

    1. Steve, as you build your new web-site, I’d be interested for you to post a link so that our industry can read what types of things other industries are doing to break out of their habits.

  4. Steve, I honestly think that the LI industry is headed in a direction that could well cause mass displacement in as short a period as 10 years. Not too sure about when that 10 year clock will start but it will take 10 years to disrupt my company and all the other LIMS companies. I am personally planning for the day that clock starts and moving my company in the direction I think will work well for us. That disruption is Open Source and Cloud. Software license fees will be greatly diminished and in many cases eliminated. The disruption will not be a technical wiz bang thing. It will be a business strategy. Basically, LIMS will become free to almost free. Much of the software world will move in this direction. Some large companies are going to have a hard time with this concept.

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