Luis Davila's Blog

sharing thoughts on life, change and innovation…

On being an entrepreneur

So today I was forwarded this video on what it takes to be an entrepreneur:

Working on Momentum for Change at the United Nations Climate Change secretariat it is clear that entrepreneurial skills, or perhaps “intrapreneurial” skills, are essential to excel at my work. I think the video provides good inspiration not only to those launching new ventures in the private sector, but anyone launching and/or supporting new initiatives. This especially make sense in institutions with deeply entrenched corporate cultures… ūüôā

In any case, it is good to be reminded that we should not be afraid to make mistakes, as long as we remain committed to learning from them. Enjoy the video!

Posted by Luis on October 21, 2012 | Posted in entrepreneurship, Innovation, momentum for change | Tagged , , | Comment

Hyperlocal sites – Is a good idea?

After spending a few months in Bonn, I’ve noticed that “hyperlocal” sites, especially in English do not really exist here. The city of Bonn offers some information both in English and German, and the Bonn English Network offers information from time to time. Rhine Online offers more information, but focusing in Cologne. Having been used to sites like EveryBlock and FreeWilliamsburg I have been craving for more information since I’ve been here.

As you can notice from stories in newspapers NY Times about hyperlocal news sites,
there is a growing movement of blogs/sites helping people find out what’s happening in their communities. I think these sites, contrary to the ones I’ve found in Bonn so far, must be comprehensive enough to include relevant news, reviews of local businesses, and a decent schedule of local entertainment and events (including
accurate schedules for movies not dubbed to German).

In Bonn, I think that a localized site may even produce enough revenue to pay for its costs and potentially hire part-time staff to profesionalize the work. However, it may also take a lot of work. Based on limited research, I found that according to Mark Potts, CEO and co-founder of, “it takes a year or two to get critical mass on a local site.”

I’ll keep looking into this and keep posting on the subject…

Posted by davilalu on February 9, 2010 | Posted in entrepreneurship, Innovation | Tagged , , | Comment

The Innovator’s DNA


Image by Vermin Inc via Flickr

I just finished reading an article from the Harvard Business Review on what shapes an innovator. In it, the authors focus on five key skills that define true innovation. These abilities are: associating, questioning, observing, experimenting and networking. When it comes to associating, the authors refer to the “Medici effect;” when great minds with different perspectives come together they will enrich each other work. Places like New York came to mind, where its diversity of people and ideas really promoted a sense of vibrancy and innovation that I have not really found anywhere else.

Innovators also tend to pose the right questions. They tend to break barriers and seek for ways to beat the system. Innovators tend to question the obvious, and imagine opposites. In many ways, as posed by Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind, innovators have “the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their head.” Sometimes this involves playing devil’s advocate, sometimes it means looking at “pushing others to justify themselves.”

I was particularly intrigued by the authors’ take on observation as a way to innovate. It sounds so simple, but this is how I personally have come up with out-of-the box ideas. By looking at something, really spending deconstructing something, one is really bound to come up with new ideas. Think about it, and start innovating it!

After thinking about what to create, or what to improve, innovators start experimenting! The authors mentioned how “whether it was intellectual exploration (Michael Lazaridis mulling over the theory of relativity in high school), physical tinkering (Jeff Bezos taking apart his crib as a toddler or Steve Jobs disassembling a Sony Walkman), or engagement in new surroundings (Starbucks founder Howard Schultz roaming Italy visiting coffee bars).” The authors also have data on how important it is to experiment other cultures. Innovators tend to live in different countries and leverage experiences to innovate in products and services.  

The authors also discussed networking as a tool for for testing new ideas, with a diverse group of people. When others network, they do to seek resources or sell more products, however innovators are looking to extend their knowledge domains. Innovators also attend events like the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conferences, where they are both inspired and energized by new ideas and different ways to tackle problems.

Above all practice, the cross-cutting theme of the article is to keep practicing. The best way to truly innovate is to learn from mistakes and sometimes build upon them. As the authors state in the article “innovative entrepreneurship is not a genetic predisposition, it is an active endeavor.”

Posted by davilalu on January 30, 2010 | Posted in entrepreneurship, Innovation | Comment

Youth and Social Enterprise

I am currently involved in a social enterprise fellowship called Startinbloc. For those of you who have not heard of this organization, it “educates, empowers and connects emerging leaders to drive positive social change across sectors.” It does so through intensive fellowship programs that provide prospective social entrepreneurs with the tools to become effective in their quest to achieve the so-called “triple-bottom line.”
This type of program also encourages a peer community of social entrepreneurs who share best practices and provide support while in the process of launching a social venture.
As part of the fellowship I was given a¬†business¬†problem that I need¬†to resolve¬†with a group of colleagues, similar to a¬†management consulting assignment. Most specifically,¬†I’m helping a social enterprise develop an effective volunteer program. I hope that my previous experiences at Junior Achievement and coordinating Global Youth Service Day will be helpful!

Posted by davilalu on February 25, 2008 | Posted in corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, young people, youth, Youth and Social Entrepreneurship | 1 Comment