How we run our in-house generative AI accelerator: Framework for ideation

At one point, every scaling business faces a decision: Do we continue our core business or venture into uncharted territory? It’s a choice between improving existing products and branching out to create something new.

For tech giants willing to expand into uncharted territory, the common approach often involves acquiring early-stage companies or even teams and integrating them into their ecosystem. This is because for mature organizations, separating from their core business is not easy. In practice, going from zero to one is always more difficult than scaling from one to 100. In fact, less than 8% of businesses launched internally reach scale.

And the strategy of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) may not necessarily be the answer for growth. This approach requires deep pockets, a luxury that industry titans such as Adobe, Google, or Meta, along with the expertise to acquire and effectively integrate businesses, take advantage of. And still, 70% to 90% of acquisitions end in failure.

At Reface, we started with a difficult challenge to find out how to build new businesses within the company. In this article, I’ll reveal our framework for evaluating new product ideas and how we can determine if a concept is worth pursuing.

Enlightenment or method?

Classic Y Combinator advice on “perceived” ideas undoubtedly a good way to discover ideas; however, this is not the primary method for a company that needs to constantly generate ideas into action. So, through trial and error, outside advice, and extensive research on the subject, we developed our own approach. This methodology can result in a higher number of ideas that are sufficient for testing compared to just following the “observed” path.

The first important step to foster innovation within an established company is to create a dedicated space where new ideas can be born.

The first important step to foster innovation within an established company is to create a dedicated space where new ideas can be born. In the day-to-day grind of an operating business, employees are usually occupied with their daily tasks and tend to stick to established processes and clear goals, rather than digging into the bag. -new ideas or start new projects. Therefore, it becomes important to establish conditions that encourage the creation of ideas.

This may involve setting up a small, dedicated team (preferably no more than five people) responsible for managing the idea backlog, creating an analytical feed of ideas, and creating a framework for evaluating weigh and prioritize ideas based on your company’s strategy. I believe in collective brainstorming during the first stages of exploring the idea, gradually moving to clear ownership during the stage of implementing the idea to resemble the conditions of a founder launching a startup.

Creating an analytical feed of ideas is equally important. We designed a system that parses recent ML research papers, reacts to social media trends and search spikes, and tracks various sources of inspiration.

For the entire ideation process, we offer two important pieces of advice. First, adopt a laser-focused approach with concentrated sprints aimed at a group of ideas. If an idea is rejected, it is easy to move on to the next one. Second, focus on identifying good idea areas, not a specific idea. While the first idea may not work out, exploring the right space may lead to the discovery of viable alternatives. In essence, we are looking for fertile soil, trusting that within it, the seeds of innovation will naturally germinate.

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