Silicon Valley vs Corporates: How to beat the 2 guys in the Garage.

By 12 januari 2017Updates

By Carlijn Nelissen, 5 min read.

Successfully outgrown the garage, CEO Netflix said “we need to become HBO,
before they can become us”. Maybe from a corporate perspective we can say:
“We need to become the 2 guys in the garage, before they can become us”.

In Silicon Valley 90% of the companies have an innovation strategy to reinforce their business, versus 20% of all global companies (Booz & Company, 2016). These Silicon Valley companies clearly have big visions focused on making the biggest possible difference for their customers. Many disruptive innovators are located in Silicon Valley. What can we learn from this ‘Creative City, where creativity and innovation are spreading through infectious energy.

Last year we visited Silicon Valley with one of our clients to get inspiration for their innovation strategy. We visited big companies like Google, PayPal, and Sephora. The favorite part was visiting startups, perhaps on the edge of disruption.

The first was JAUNT VR, who is on it’s way to become the YouTube of Virtual Reality. According to them disruption means take risks, learn fast and work hard. They created 8 concepts of panoptic camera’s (360-degree view) in one year. They partner with journalists and artists who create content with Jaunt VR camera’s. Because they don’t have to hire thousands of content creators, they can stay lean, increase their reach and focus on their core value: creating awesome VR camera’s so that viewers can experience a feeling of ‘being there’ of ‘being them’.

Secondly, Twindom, literally, 8 guys in a garage, offer 3D printed full-body portraits to consumers. Just getting picked-up in Asia. They stressed that more people within the company, does not mean more profit. It slowed them down, they needed to be lean and only work with the most driven and competent people to chase their dreams. A year before their team consisted of 18 and now with just 8 they have doubled their sales. After 12 prototypes in one year, they created a small, mobile 3D camera that can be placed anywhere and they partner with 3D printing companies to print the 3D portaits, wherever in the world. This way their reach is endless and they can focus on their core business: creating smaller 3D camera’s and give access to the 3D printing chain.

Last but not least, Q Scientific, founded by 2 brothers who graduated from Stanford who have created an algorithm to predict your list of groceries. These two guys can be a real threat to the big supermarket players, because they could turn the store into a commodity. Why go to the supermarket, if there is an app who knows exactly what you need and when and just sends it to your house. These two guys can possibly disrupt the million dollar retail industry.


What can we learn from these innovative startups? What characterized these ‘2 guys in the garage’: 

The power of startups is that all employees still know WHY the company started. Successful startups have a clear purpose and there is alignment about this purpose within the team. Further more, this purpose, a goal greater than your ego, results in having the drive that leads to the commitment to get results and not stop when facing failure. They continuously ask themselves: What do we (want to) mean to our customers? This intrinsic customer-centricity is largely their competitive advantage. It also creates focus on the company’s core business is and what they can outsource.

The ability to have an open mind and always think in possibilities. To see every problem as an opportunity. This leads to a positive energy and excitement within the team. There is nothing no more deadly than negativity in the team. As an antidote openness and equality are core values and therefore, decisions are made based on data not job title.

This decision-making process is part of the reason startups are experts in navigating hypercompetitive and fast-evolving markets with agility. Startups keep it smart & simple, and cheap. They test quickly if their customers value their new products or services, if not, they adjust. They learn fast from failures and customer insights, and make fast decisions accordingly. Crucial for speed is to keep the organization Lean & Mean. Due to trust and openness there are not more processes than necessary, because they do not need control and bureaucratic processes.


80% of the attempts to change the way people work fails. The way you work is a result of how you think. Can we change the way you think? Sir Buckminister Fuller, Designer, Inventor, Futurist, said: “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking”.

This hits the core of what we do as Innovation Boosters. Our purpose is to challenge corporates employees to think more innovative. The last 4 years we have developed a structured innovation process with easy to use tools, based on 80+ innovation projects within corporates. The Booster mindset is young, innovative, and bold. We do things differently. We never deliver reports, instead we ignite the drive and innovative mindset of employees. We deliver a New Way of Thinking in a sustainable way. During the learning process employees develop innovative products, services, and processes to increase business value.

In short, we create performance-based transformation by excitement. We teach people to think more like the ‘2 guys in the garage’ and learn fast. Because the only way you can win, is to learn faster than your competition.

If you can’t beat them, learn from them!