Pretotyping, CES 2019 and an AI Mouse for your Cat

Pretotyping Global Summit 2019

LG Rollable TV CES 2019

In October 2018 we Pretotyped the concept of a 'Pretotyping Global Summit 2019'.

The Skin In The Game was to get 5 clients and partners to cover their costs to join me and a few days later it was on.

We went to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show to get a view on emerging tech, followed by time in San Francisco to understand how companies are experimenting at scale. Here we spent time with Facebook, Slack, High Fidelity, Evernote, Google, Barry O'Reilly - author of Unlearn and, of course a morning with Alberto Savoia who co-created Pretotyping.

Lots of lessons and insights to share in the next update, but the AI hype is getting over the top. Here's an example of 'AI' - for the cat that has everything. The AI (?) mouse.

AI Mouse?

AI Mouse?

Below is the best summary I found on this years CES, focusing on the overall trends and direction of this year's innovations.


AFR Pretotyping Exponentially

Pretotyping in AFR BOSS Magazine.

Includes RACQ CIO customer story

Coming Up

The wait is almost over ...

I am thrilled to announce that Alberto's new book, The Right It—Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed, will be released in two weeks.

Preorder it today at any of the following retailers: 

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | IndieBound

Apple Books | 800-CEO-READ


Thanks for reading.

chat soon,


Anki Vector Robot meets Magic Leap

Anki Vector Robot meets Magic Leap


These are two exponential technologies that have surprised me recently.

Magic Leap

The $2.3 Billion startup that has taken four years to get its first product out the door has blown me away. I’m on the board of an Extended Reality startup, Phoria, so have seen multiple iterations of these technologies, from Google Glass through Oculus, Microsoft Hololens to the gold standard of VR, the HTC Vive. They’re all incredible tech, and effective in industry verticals like Real Estate, Training, Design Engineering, etc but fail to compellingly answer the consumer question:

”What is it for? What can it do 10X better than I can do right now?” 

Without solving this, behaviour does not change.

Then they launched the Magic Leap on 8/8/18. Based on reviews by journalists who tried the Magic Leap, I expected a slightly larger viewport Microsoft Hololens.

I was so wrong.

Image, if you will, a computer slightly bigger than a mobile phone clipped to your belt and a light, comfortable headset. And a small mouse sized controller. That’s it.

No cables, no pc, no phone.

Absolute freedom. Touching and engaging with the AR rendered world using your hands. Mapping a large room in real time. This is the future. We have LEAPt across the chasm.

ANKI Vector

I love the idea of robots being useful and how frustratingly challenging this is to get right. I bought the HEXA, as 6-legged, Programmable, Highly Maneuverable Robot a few months ago and, although technically smart, it’s basically a radio control car with 6 legs. Sure, it’s programmable, but the community is tiny, and the sensors are few. Disappointed.

Enter Vector. “a robot sidekick for your home”.

They nailed it. This little guy roams around the desk, recognises you, gets excited when you’re around, throws tantrums, is not 100% controllable and has oodles of personality. Just the right amount of sensors and awareness and randomness. I love the evolution of this tech and how ANKI now have a crowdsourced platform of thousands of robots to learn from and the same number of humans to practice on. CEO and co-founder of Anki, Boris Sofman sums it up here on this a16z Podcast.

Anki Vector Meets Magic Leap

What happens when you put a little smart robot in an Augmented Reality world generated by Magic Leap?

Magic Happens


and this is what it looks like in the current / “real” world



My Predictions:

  1. Magic Leap has started the exponential curve of mass adoption of useful, unobtrusive Extended Reality. ETA 2020

  2. Vector has started the exponential curve of mass adoption for a smart, useful robot. ETA 2022


Based on work by Singularity University


ANKI Vector:

Magic Leap:

Phoria XR:

Exponential Innovation:

The Innovation Experiment: Year 4.


[Image: Jack Moreh]

It’s year four of my experiment to figure out how to apply startup and scale-up techniques, tools, and tactics to corporate innovation.

After selling GetViable in 2013, a platform to help founders get from idea to MVP, I wanted to solve a bigger, seemingly obvious problem. How do you connect start-ups to corporate innovators to drive value for both?

Since July 2014 I’ve been running a multi-year experiment, to understand how to plug start-ups into corporates. Start-ups have ideas, entrepreneurial people and freedom of thought and corporates have money, scale, resources, mature processes, and customers.

My thesis is that you can use well-proven techniques, tactics, and tools used by start-ups and scale-ups in a corporate innovation environment to drive real innovation that delivers results.

What are great innovation results anyway?

  • An employee engagement program to help staff think about problems in a new way, amplifying the work of the frustrated innovators in the business.

  • A training program to teach these techniques to staff, like Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Pretotyping and Pirate Metrics so they have the tools to stop and assess ideas before wasting precious resources on the wrong ideas.

  • An experimentation program to rapidly test, learn and prepare for new technologies, services or business models.

  • An evangelist to help the organization to understand that the sky is falling right now and we better get off our asses and innovate.

Or the holy grail.

  • Creating disruptive, non-organic growth by finding that 10x breakthrough product that customers love and will part with cash to have.

All I needed was a company willing to let me figure it out.

Three years later I’ve worked for two of these companies.

Experiment 1: Outside-in. Consulting with ThoughtWorks

ThoughtWorks is on the edge of self-managed, empowered people/culture. They have a reputation for excellent, smart technical people, are niche and expensive and attract clients that want this. Perfect.

ThoughtWorks attracted this client-base and sent me in whenever someone said ‘disruption’, ‘innovation’, ‘startup’, ‘accelerator’, ‘fail-fast’, ‘lean startup’, etc. 

This allowed me to engage with forward-thinking members of large corporates who wanted to learn more and experiment.

Finding the brave soul driving innovation at these companies is key.

This gave me a good level of insight of what Tier 1 companies in Australia and New Zealand think innovation is, how they approach innovation and the challenges and opportunities executing innovation projects.

What I learned here is:

  • Innovation creates strategic advantage. Most clients are happy for short-term engagements but realise very quickly that they need to execute their innovation initiatives themselves for exactly this reason. The challenge is they don’t have the right people, mindset or tools and techniques to do so in most cases.

  • There is an abundance of smart people and great ideas inside each business. They just need to be unleashed and appropriately guided and managed. Finding ideas is not the problem — figuring out which ideas to pursue or discard is the challenge. Pretotyping is ideal for this.

The opposite, however, is true.

  • Sticking ideas onto a wall, chatting about them, Lean Startup, Lean Canvas, Pretotyping, etc. seem simple on the surface. Few people put in the effort to understand and execute these correctly or to learn the right way to approach early stage innovation, resulting in poor outcomes, money and time wasted on the wrong ideas and as a result, surprise — poor or no outcomes.

Experiment 1 Complete. It was time to move on.

Experiment 2: Inside-out. Heading Innovation at Sportsbet

I was looking for a high growth, digital e-commerce company that genuinely wanted to experiment and innovate. The company also had to be relatively autonomous with decision making — hard to find in Australia as most larger corporates are sales offices of larger conglomerates, regardless of what they tell you. I wanted to have a platform to figure out what worked, test these techniques at scale and plug early stage start-ups into the process to innovate at pace.

Sportsbet fit the bill perfectly for this phase of the experiment. Sportsbet gave me a decent budget and leeway to mold the team in the best way we could. We settled on three startup techniques to filter out the good ideas from the not-yet-ready ideas:

We tested hundreds of ideas by combining these three approaches, saving millions of dollars by not building the wrong stuff. Quickly validating ideas to productise them and creating an environment where everyone could participate in innovation.

What I learned here

One the biggest learnings is that innovation is a new discipline for most and tough to execute.

As an Innovation Leader:

  • You’re a change agent. And everybody hates change.

  • You’re an evangelist.

  • You’re a salesperson.

  • You’re a technologist.

  • You’re a VC.

  • You’re a cynical optimist.

  • You’re a storyteller.

  • You’re a mentor.

  • You’re a relentless communicator.

Outside again

At the end of July 2017, I left the Head of Innovation role at Sportsbet.

Every few years I like to step out, assess the landscape and deliberately choose where I focus my energy next. This is that time.

I think of employers as systems I pass through where we exchange value — I bring knowledge, capability, and outcomes and they bring knowledge, resources, customers, and cash. This relationship needs to be in balance, and when it’s not one of us should leave.

In both cases, I decided to leave while we still valued and liked each other. The business is in a good state to continue on the innovation path it has chosen, hopefully enhanced in some small way by me being there. My relationship with the people and business remain in place for future engagement.

After three years, I’ve learned that Innovation Leadership needs:

Do you accept innovation-led growth as absolutely critical, and do you have cascaded targets that reflect this?

which concludes with

‘In our experience, though, CEOs are likely just going through the motions if they don’t use evaluations and remuneration to assess and recognise the contribution that all top managers make to innovation.’

  • a three-year horizon at most. Why? This is the tenure of many CEO’s and they’re working for their near-term bonus unless…

  • there is an environment of genuine constraint to get traction. Think energy retailers, general retailers under threat from Amazon, the music industry, etc

  • an unwavering belief and trust that the ‘process’ will deliver tangible and intangible benefits to the business,

  • strategic clarity and alignment,

  • the right people. People that don’t fit properly, challenge the norm, have startup or innovation experience and Get Shit Done.

  • space and time to experiment,

  • a global network of relationships,

  • humility,

  • being a strong and active node in the local innovation network (see Brad Feld’s thinking).

Experiment 3: Outside-in?

I know it’s time to move on and find the next thing. Right now this looks like working with scale-ups, accelerators, engaging with corporate innovators, venture partnering or innovation consulting.

I want a broader perspective and success looks like this:

When I look back in a few years time I’ve helped to impact entrepreneurs, corporate innovators, and the innovation ecosystem positively, at scale.

As the next step I’ve just returned from spending time with some of the biggest thinkers I know — the Singularity UniversityGlobal Summit in San Francisco. This conference made a tremendous impact on my thinking last year and this year didn’t disappoint.

More on that to come.