The Innovation Global Network ( Mount Freedom)) is the brainchild of Arthur Fox, who has worked in innovation for many of the 28 years he spent in big pharma. Prior to founding the Innovation Global Network, Fox worked for the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer (New York), where he created Pfizer’s first multifunction innovation team to incorporate best practices. He also developed a mentor innovation program for all of Pfizer’s global brands. After he left the company, he considered how he could leverage his experience and passion for innovation, “which was now part of my DNA.” Thus, the Innovation Global Network was born.
When considering how to implement the Innovation Global Network, Fox spoke to former colleagues about their problems with innovation, and he learned that most large companies weren’t good at implementing new ideas. These executive- and management-level individuals were looking for expertise and best practices to help them, and were reaching out to sources outside their companies. At the same time, service providers were telling him that they had the best practices and processes, but found it difficult to connect with those who needed to know about them. Fox realized that there was room for an innovation marketplace. “I designed the Innovation Global Network as a combination of traditional networking features and outreach features, so individual members can achieve their specific objectives,” he told us.
More than 2,600 members have joined the Innovation Global Network, and they come from all over the globe. Fox monetizes the network through membership fees. There are three types of membership, including a basic free membership. The next level is “Innovation Leadership,” whose members tend to be the practitioners who are the most active in the network and who participate most often in virtual networking events, Fox said. The third membership level, “Innovation Provider,” is for organizations, consultancies and service providers. A recent addition to the site has been a section where vendors can present their innovation solutions to the membership. Fox says he is looking for additional innovation professionals to join, as well as vendors who have methodologies and techniques that can help the network.
Company name: Innovation Global Network
When did you launch the company? 2012
Product name: www.innovationglobalnetwork.com
CEO: Arthur Fox
New Jersey location: Mount Freedom
Team: Solo founder
Any employees? Professionals hired as needed for specific tasks
Market you are serving: Professionals in companies and other organizations, entrepreneurs, consultants, service providers, inventors and academics across industries and sectors who are focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and organization change
The 10 questions:
1. What is your New Jersey connection? What brought you to New Jersey, and do you plan to stay here?
I moved from New York City to New Jersey in 1981, a year after I graduated from NYU’s MBA program, and was recruited to work as a market research analyst for Warner Lambert, a diversified pharmaceuticals and consumer products company headquartered in Morris Plains. That company was later bought by Pfizer, and I eventually became the global director of consumer insights and new products identification for its Consumer Healthcare division. I was responsible for directing the creation of programs to identify global consumer insights to drive growth; and for mentoring the innovation teams for its large portfolio of iconic global brands, such as Listerine, Nicorette, Benadryl, Sudafed and Rogaine. My wife is a special education teacher in Rockaway Township, and we both are currently planning to stay in New Jersey for the foreseeable future.
2. What problem are you solving?
Professionals, entrepreneurs, and inventors in most organizations need to find the best practices, expertise, tools, methodologies, technologies and help to create innovation, entrepreneurship and organization change. Consultants, service providers and academics believe they have these, but find it challenging to identify, engage and educate those who could benefit from their help in these areas. They also tend to lose touch with 90-95 percent of the people they meet along the way, due to a time-efficient means of communicating with them, leading to the probable loss of additional opportunities. They also often miss opportunities among “current contacts” because their contacts’ knowledge of their expertise and resources tends to be limited by what they worked on together and when they did it. They also exist in ecosystems with other consultants, service providers and academics who come to them with additional project, partnership and collaboration opportunities. Because they find these relationships valuable, they are seeking opportunities to expand those ecosystems.
3. Why can you address this problem better than anyone else?
After a number of years of witnessing innovation programs struggle to produce successful results, I developed the insight that the main reason for this poor track record was that the managers that were being asked to lead those initiatives were never trained on how to create innovation in their MBA programs, and the company itself did not have a set of best practices and processes to train them on. Typically, these managers would then try to hire innovation experts to coach them and help them with their programs. I pointed this out, and was asked to review and assimilate what was known about innovation and to recommend how the marketing team I was working with should proceed.
A short time later, I became the leader of the company’s first innovation team and created the first successful new product pipeline in the history of the large Consumer Products division, which I was part of. Using this success as a role model, I then helped create an innovation program for the whole division. Later I created and mentored innovation teams on all of the company’s global consumer brands, such as Listerine, Nicorette, Rogaine, Sudafed, and Benadryl. Having helped build sustainable innovation programs and processes from the bottom up, I developed an intimate knowledge of the challenges of creating innovation and how innovators and innovation expert service providers can facilitate meeting those challenges by networking and engaging with each other.
4. How did you come up with your startup name?
The name of the company, “Innovation Global Network,” was designed to accurately describe the purpose and scope of the organization. It is a truly global network, with professionals focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and change management all over the world. Approximately half of its members are from outside the United States. This provides members with potential opportunities beyond the local areas they live in.
5. What was the biggest mistake you’ve made so far in your entrepreneurial journey, and what did you learn from it?
When I was in the design phase, I sought out input from many of my colleagues and contacts. That was a great idea, which I encourage every entrepreneur to do. However, I incorporated so many unique networking, outreach and learning features early in the process, it delayed me from launching sooner. On the other hand, they have helped members achieve their individual specific objectives, adding value to the membership.
6. When was the last time you thought about quitting your startup and going back to corporate life, or doing something else? What got you to stay?
I very much enjoyed my 28 years in the corporate world, creating new powerful consumer and customer insights; helping to create new marketing strategies; developing new product ideas; pioneering new innovation processes and working with some great, smart people. I look back on all of that very fondly. I left because I wanted to try something different that would leverage my experiences and passion for creating innovation and change. Connecting organizations and individuals to partner and collaborate is exciting and fulfilling. The creation of new innovations, new businesses and dissemination of new best practices fulfills my passion for doing something new that keeps me and the Innovation Global Network moving forward.
7. If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
The Innovation Global Network could have benefitted from a longer pre-launch optimization phase, although there is a school of thought that says it is best to learn by getting out there, seeing what works and refining later.
8. What’s the best place to find founders to network with
The Innovation Global Network has many founder entrepreneurs. I regularly schedule free online “Opportunity and Networking Events,” in which members introduce themselves, their expertise, and present their new tools and services and how they are looking for other network members to collaborate and partner with them to help grow or commercialize their offerings. The various entrepreneurship- and technology-focused organizations and meetups throughout New Jersey are also excellent places to meet founders.
9. What does your family think about you being an entrepreneur?
I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and two great children, who have provided unlimited support and active encouragement over the years. It has made a huge contribution to my success.
10. What has helped you the most to achieve your current success?
I do everything based on insights as to what current members, potential members and strategic partners are looking for. Listening and respecting their input and feedback has been critical to the success of the website. In fact, I always operate in a continuous improvement, learning and optimization mode, so the Innovation Global Network keeps getting more and more valuable to its members.