The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas-and What to Do About It

The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas-and What to Do About It


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The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas-and What to Do About It by Ross Baird

Our innovation economy is broken. But there’s good news: The ideas that will solve our problems are hiding in plain sight.

While big companies in the American economy have never been more successful, entrepreneurial activity is near a 30-year low. More businesses are dying than starting every day. Investors continue to dump billions of dollars into photo-sharing apps and food-delivery services, solving problems for only a wealthy sliver of the world’s population, while challenges in health, food security, and education grow more serious.

In The Innovation Blind Spot , entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ross Baird argues that the innovations that truly matter don’t see the light of day—for reasons entirely of our own making. A handful of people in a handful of cities are deciding, behind closed doors, which entrepreneurs get a shot to succeed. And most investors are what Baird calls “two-pocket thinkers”—artificially separating their charitable work from their day job of making a profit.

The resulting system creates rising income inequality, stifled entrepreneurial ambition, social distrust, and political uncertainty. Our innovation problem makes all our other problems harder to solve. In this book, Baird demonstrates how and where to find better ideas by lifting up people, places, and industries that are often overlooked. What’s more, Baird ultimately outlines how to create long-term success through “one-pocket thinking”—eliminating the blind spot that separates “what we do for a living” and “what we really care about.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781944648619
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 09/12/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 462,676
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ross Baird is an entrepreneur and investor who is best known for finding, developing, and investing in entrepreneurs in places and industries where most people aren’t looking. He founded Village Capital in 2009 and has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs in over fifty countries since then. He has visited over a hundred cities worldwide by train, plane, and bus in an effort to find new entrepreneurs and help people supporting them, and he and Village Capital have partnered with over twenty Fortune 500 companies to help large institutions uncover new innovations. Before joining Village Capital, Ross worked for a venture capital firm and was on the founding team of four different startups.

Ross and his work have been featured by more than fifty media outlets including the New York Times , Bloomberg Business Week, Inc., and FastCompany. He has also lectured in entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia since 2012. He has a MPhil from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was a Truman Scholar and a Jefferson Scholar.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1: What Happened to the American Dream?

Chapter 2: Chasing Whales and Unicorns: Why the Venture Capital Process Causes Us to Miss Out on Most Ideas

Chapter 3: People and Place: It’s Who You Know

Chapter 4: The Two-Pocket Mentality: How Short-Term Thinking Sets Us Up for Long-Term Failure


Chapter 5: Changing the Process: Why Entrepreneurs Are Better Judges of New Ideas Than Expert Investors

Chapter 6: Building the Pipeline

Chapter 7: One-Pocket Thinking: Why Do We Know What Things Cost but Not What They’re Worth?


Chapter 8: How Investors Can Find Ideas Where No One Else Is Looking

Chapter 9: How Do I Become a One-Pocket Investor?

Chapter 10: How Do I Illuminate Blind Spots in a Big Company?

Chapter 11: How Government Can Play a Role in Closing Innovation Blind Spots

Chapter 12: What Do I Do If I’ve Got the Next Great Idea?


Chapter 13: “We Are the They”: Building an Ecosystem

Chapter 14: What Can Happen to the American Dream?


About the Author



What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Ross Baird is on a mission . . . [He is] working to empower communities around the country to invest for impact.”

—Devin Thorpe, Forbes

“For the past seven years, Baird has been doggedly finding and developing successful businesses in downtrodden places.”

Bloomberg Businessweek

“We know a lot about what it takes to generate new ideas—but so little about how to recognize the ones that are worth pursuing. The Innovation Blind Spot is here to change that. It’s a terrific read, with vivid data and memorable examples to help you stop betting on flops and spot the hits hiding right under your nose.”

—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take

“Every entrepreneur with a great idea should have a fundamental right to start a business. But today, far too many barriers in society prevent the best people from competing. In this book, Ross outlines compelling strategies to find the best innovations—no matter where they are.”

—Wendy Guillies, president and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

“In this time of seismic shifts, our businesses, our governments, and our communities need to work together for our society to succeed—and we need new ideas to get there. Baird identifies the outliers that no one’s betting on, and compellingly outlines how we can bring them into the mainstream.”

—Governor Deval L. Patrick, managing director, Bain Capital Double Impact

“Every single city and community has the power to change the world. But to realize that power, we have to find the ideas and entrepreneurs that people aren’t paying attention to. In The Innovation Blind Spot , Ross shows us how to do just that.”

—Brad Feld, cofounder, Foundry Group, and author of Startup Communities

“There's a myth that the innovation economy is a meritocracy, but unfortunately your background and your network still play a huge role in success. Ross makes a compelling case for how we can access the untapped potential in our innovation economy.”

Donna Byrd, founding publisher of The Root and vice president of Digital Media at Univision Communications

“If you’re interested in understanding the root causes of why the American economy isn’t working, read The Innovation Blind Spot. Ross Baird highlights how most people and capital focus on only a couple of industries and a couple of cities—and how if we change how we think about solving problems, we can get better results for everyone.”

—Andrew Yang, founder and CEO of Venture for America and author of S mart People Should Build Things

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