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发明家不一定能成为企业家
The difference between innovators and entrepreneurs

来源:FT中文网    2018-01-10 06:54



        Matt Johnson was raised by entrepreneurs — his parents founded Denver-based landscape architecture practice Civitas — but he had no intention of creating a company himself. That was until, as part of his industrial design degree at London’s Royal College of Art, he invented conductive paint, with which he could create working electrical circuits on walls.        马特•约翰逊(Matt Johnson)是在一个企业家家庭中长大的——他的父母在丹佛创建了景观设计公司Civitas——但他从未有过自己创建一家公司的打算,直到他在位于伦敦的皇家艺术学院(Royal College of Art)攻读工业设计学士学位时发明了导电涂料。这种涂料可以用来在墙上制作工作电路。
        Now, Johnson is chief executive of Bare Conductive, a business formed around his product employing 10 people in a studio in Shoreditch, the east London tech start-up hub. The company has generated revenue of over £2.5m in six years of trading, selling its paint in kits through hobbyist websites and retail chains such as RadioShack in the US. Johnson is in discussions with several FTSE 100 companies about taking operations to a much larger scale.        目前,约翰逊是Bare Conductive公司的首席执行官。公司是以他发明的产品为基础成立的,有10名员工,办公室设在伦敦东部科技新创企业聚集地肖尔迪奇(Shoreditch)区的一个工作室里。在过去6年里,公司通过业余爱好者网站和诸如美国RadioShack的零售连锁店销售涂料工具包,实现收入超过250万英镑。目前,约翰逊正在为扩大公司规模,与多家富时100指数(FTSE 100)成分股公司洽商。
        Many inventors like Johnson try to turn their innovations into businesses, but few reach a large scale. More often it is companies led by entrepreneurs, rather than inventors, that change society with their products.        许多像约翰逊一样的发明家都尝试将自己的发明商业化,但做成大企业的屈指可数。更常见的情况是,许多由企业家,而不是发明家领导的公司通过其产品改变了社会。
        Steve Jobs did not invent the smartphone and Bill Gates did not create the personal computer operating system, but both built their companies into world leaders on the back of these innovations.        史蒂夫•乔布斯(Steve Jobs)没有发明智能手机,比尔•盖茨(Bill Gates)也没有创造出个人电脑操作系统,但他们均依靠这些发明缔造了世界领先的企业。
        Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham, the founders of Pret A Manger, did what the Fourth Earl of Sandwich failed to capitalise on when he gave his name to the filled bread snack in the 18th century. In the 1980s, they bought a sandwich shop in Hampstead, north London, that was in liquidation and turned it into a global chain with almost 500 shops that sold £776m of snacks and beverages in its last financial year.        三明治这种食物于十八世纪由第四代三明治伯爵(指传说中的三名治发明人约翰•孟塔古(John Montagu)——译者注)发明,并以其爵位命名,但伯爵未能将这款夹肉面包食品发扬光大。英国三明治连锁店Pret A Manger的创始人朱利安•梅特卡夫(Julian Metcalfe)和辛克莱•比彻姆(Sinclair Beecham)却利用这一发明大获成功。上个世纪八十年代,他们俩买下了伦敦北部汉普斯特德(Hampstead)一家正在清算的三明治店,并将其打造成为一家拥有近500家门店的全球连锁店,该品牌上一财年靠销售三明治和饮料实现收入7.76亿英镑。
        “I was lucky because I could follow the example of my parents,” Johnson says. He also relied on mentors to help him develop as an entrepreneur, and brought in other people to take on business functions that he did not have the skills to do.        “我很幸运,因为有父母做我的榜样,”约翰逊说。他还寻求导师的指导来助其成长为一名企业家,同时,引进其他人才来负责他力不能及的企业职能部门。
        Having moved from inventor to entrepreneur, Johnson says he has developed a respect for those whose skill is to create companies rather than make technological breakthroughs. “I now understand that creativity isn’t only the realm of those creating objects,” he says. “Creating a company, to me, that is total magic.”        从发明家转变为企业家后,约翰逊说,他对那些具备创建企业、而非技术创新能力的人由衷的敬佩。“我现在明白,并非只有发明家才有创造力,”他说,“对我而言,创建一家公司简直是在变魔术。”
        The stumbling block for many inventors is moving from being a small-scale operation to a large business, says Simon Bond, innovation director at SETsquared, an incubator programme set up 15 years ago by five UK universities to turn academic breakthroughs into large companies.        对许多发明家来说,难点是将小企业做大,SETsquared的创新总监西蒙•邦德(Simon Bond)说。SETsquared是15年前由英国的5所大学发起成立的孵化器计划,目的是将学术方面的重大突破转化成大企业。
        Thousands of inventors approach SETsquared for support. The incubator identifies those that truly have an entrepreneurial bent by insisting that everyone goes on a two-day introduction course that outlines how someone takes an idea from the back of a napkin to a commercial venture.        成千上万的发明家向SETsquared寻求支持。这家孵化器机构要求所有申请人参加一个为期两天的入门课程,借此来发现那些真正具备企业家潜能的发明人。课程内容是介绍如何将写在餐巾纸背面的点子付诸实施,打造一家商业企业。
        For many the stumbling block is about control, such as not being able to decide how the innovation should be commercialised or having to share their ideas with a management team, says Bond.        对许多发明家来说,主要的障碍是控制,例如,无法决定该如何将发明商业化,或不得不与管理团队分享自己的发明等,邦德说。
        Those who do stay with SETsquared are those who are able to share the vision, he notes, often finding a mentor during the introductory course who later becomes the company’s chief executive. He cites the example of SETsquared alumnus Symetrica, a security systems supplier. It was based on a discovery in gamma ray technology by David Ramsden during research at the University of Southampton.        那些能分享其愿景的发明家最终获得了SETsquared项目的支持,他说,他们通常在入门课程期间找到了一位导师,而导师之后也成了公司的首席执行官。他举了一个例子,SETsquared的成员企业Symetrica。这是一家安全系统供应商,其产品基于大卫•拉姆斯登(David Ramsden)在南安普敦大学(University of Southampton)研究期间发现的伽马射线技术。
        Ramsden had come to SETsquared imagining that his discovery would be of most use detecting low-level radiation in satellites, but after meeting mentor Heddwyn Davies, later Symetrica’s chief executive, he was convinced that there was a business opportunity in the technology’s potential to detect dirty bombs at security checkpoints at ports, for example. The company, which has raised $4.7m to date from private equity, is now a supplier to homeland security operations in the US.        在最初与SETsquared接触时,拉姆斯登设想,他的发明最有可能用于探测卫星的低水平辐射。但在与导师海德维恩•戴维斯(Heddwyn Davies)(后来成为公司的首席执行官)见面后,他意识到,这项技术可用于在诸如港口等地的安检点探测“脏弹”(含有放射性物质的炸弹),是一个潜在的商机。该公司已获私募股权公司470万美元的投资,现在已成为美国国土安全项目的供应商。
        “Successful businesses are more than great ideas,” Bond says. “Expanding the business consistently in a way that engages more than a top tier of customers takes more than a single invention.”        “成功的企业远非好点子那么简单,”邦德说,“将企业不断发展壮大,吸引顶级客户以外的客户群,仅靠一项发明是远远不够的。”
        Entrepreneur First is a London-based accelerator programme that helps technology graduates and those already working in tech start-ups to discover their inner founder. In the six years since it was launched it has enabled the creation of 150 companies, valued collectively at about $1bn.        Entrepreneur First是一个总部在伦敦的加速器计划,它帮助科技领域的毕业生,以及那些已经在科技新创公司工作的人,发掘他们内在的、成为企业创始人的潜力。启动6年来,它为150家企业的创立提供了帮助,这些企业的总价值约10亿美元。
        None of these founders would describe themselves as inventors, even though most have an engineering background, notes Matt Clifford, Entrepreneur First’s chief executive.        Entrepreneur First的首席执行官马特•克利福德(Matt Clifford)说,在这些企业创始人中,没人会将自己定义为发明家,尽管他们中多数人都有工程专业背景。
        “The invention itself is rarely the key to the whole thing at least with technology companies,” he says. “We look for people with a bigger vision, who can think in an unconstrained way, not limited by the original idea for their product.”        “发明本身成为创建企业关键的情况很少见,至少科技公司是如此,”他说,“我们寻找的是拥有更宏大的愿景、思维更加开放、不局限于产品的最初想法的人。”
                
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