Skip to content
Featured image: The Realist’s Guide to Emerging Technologies

The Realist’s Guide to Emerging Technologies

Hod Fleishman, Partner, VP, Deep Tech Business Innovation

“Doing innovation means to spent more time on figuring out the problem than the solution.”

In this episode, we welcome Hod Fleishman, Partner, VP, Deep Tech Business Innovation at BCG X, Boston Consulting Group’s new tech build and design unit, and also a successful founder of various startups with a deep passion for connecting the physical and digital worlds, and digital innovation. In addition to an insight into the very successful work of BCG X and some very exciting real-world examples, we will also learn about the importance of involving customers in the development of new businesses from the very beginning. Why do Hod & team see themselves as "master builders" in what they do? Find out!

Below you will find the full transcript for the episode.

The realist’s guide to emerging technologies

Chris: Hi, and welcome back to the Innovation Rockstars. My name is Chris Mühlroth, and in this episode, I'm really excited to welcome Hod Fleishman, who is Partner, VP, Deep Tech Business Innovation at BCG Digital Adventures. In his role, he supports talented innovators in leveraging deep technology, to, for example, launch companies for the world's leading corporations. That's quite a mission. Hod, thanks a lot for joining us.

Hod: Thank you for having me.

Chris: We start straight away with a short 60 seconds introduction sprint. Now that's all about you, your career, and your role. So for the next 60 seconds, the virtual stage is all yours. Let's go.

Hod: My professional career started some 25 years ago. I've been involved with innovation and technology for all these 25 years. I'm a product designer by profession. My first job as a product designer was to design various protective kits for people working in hazardous chemical areas. So almost like designing spacesuits, for a young designer, it was very exciting. I was building products that were manufactured in the thousands. It was quite exciting! And then I was hit by the startup bug together with a friend that went with me to school. We thought we should actually build something competitive in the market. We were looking at emerging technologies at the time. And cellular networks began to emerge. GPS trackers began to emerge. Accelerometers became available. And we were thinking, what do we do with all of those? And we came to an idea that you can actually use a cellular network and a GPS tracker and an accelerometer to measure driver behavior and to try to predict which drivers are more likely to be involved in vehicle crashes. We built a pretty cool company, actually raised around $100 million, began working with very large insurance companies and corporate fleets, had some very exciting investors. Al Gore's fund invested, Richard Branson's fund invested, Benchmark Capital, which is a very well-known venture capital and was one of our investors as well, did that for several years. And then I ran across the folks at BCG. And here at BCG, as you've mentioned, the business has the classic consulting side of it. I think the people are more familiar with this type of strategy building. And there's the flip side where we actually build and launch companies into the market. This is the side of the company that I'm working in.

Chris:  Yeah. And we'll get to know a lot more of that in just a few seconds. So to get to know you just a little better, I do have three sentence starters for you. And I would like you to complete those sentences. Number one goes like this. The book I have given most as a gift is…

Hod: ...Dr. Seuss, On the Places You'll Go. It's a very, very cool book.

Chris: Love it. So maybe, you can send it to me as a gift too.

Hod: When it's your birthday, I will send it.

Chris: Great! Number two goes like this: An unusual habit or thing that I absolutely love is…

Hod: …Working on my 1973 station wagon Volvo. I have this old, falling apart car at my parking lot. And whenever I'm tired of digital innovation, I go to the most analog object I have, which is this Volvo car. And I've been rebuilding it for the last few years.

Chris: Oh, that's pretty cool. So you have the best of both worlds. That's great. And finally, number three: One piece of advice I would give to my younger self is…

Hod:  …Do what you believe is the right thing to do. But I actually have to say this is exactly what I've done. So sometimes if I have to accuse myself of something, it is that I'm a very bad listener. And because I kind of have this very strong ambitions of what needs to be done. But I think it's the best advice to any entrepreneur anyway. If you believe something needs to be done, just go ahead and do it. 

Balancing emerging technologies and business opportunities

Chris: 100% agree to that. Recognizing the fact that the attention span in general is getting shorter and shorter these days for anybody who doesn't want to listen to the entire episode, but just wants to get to the very bottom of your experience: What's your number one DO and number one DO NOT in innovation?

Hod: Number one to DO in innovation is spending more time on figuring out the problem than the solution. I think if you understand the problem very well, solutions become very easy to find. I think you're spending too much time battling with the solutions because the problem is not well understood. So this is the DO. The DON’T is don't try to kill ideas too soon. Ideas, they're like small babies. They can hardly walk. They can hardly crawl. They're very easy to push aside. But you shouldn't do that. You should give these early ideas a chance and then once they begin to evolve, they begin to carry substance. But give them a chance to evolve.

“If you understand the problem very well, solutions become very easy to find.”

Chris: That's pretty cool. Most listeners probably know the term “the times are changing”. So of course, with the rise of the World Wide Web, and then Web 2.0, we have seen many things. Mobile startups, apps. You also described them in your early days in entrepreneurship and building companies. But nowadays, even with more advanced technologies, how has that changed? I mean, take Phygital. Physical and digital merging together, connecting digital and physical worlds. And there are a lot of emerging technologies involved in that, like AR, VR, nanotech, robotics, and the like on a very broad and high level, how did that game actually change for corporations in the last couple of years?

Hod: I think that initially, and also this whole startup world, five years ago, eight years ago, was a big mystery for corporates in the sense that it was quite difficult to understand what it is exactly what these startup companies are doing that makes them so successful. But corporates, they may be slower at moving, maybe they have more mechanics they have to address, but they are also very sophisticated and very smart. So I think over the last three, five years, we're seeing more and more corporates have understood the game. What does it mean to innovate? What does it mean to be agile? What does it mean to build a proof of concept? We're seeing today companies - well-known brand companies, very big companies - who are not afraid to place a proof of concept in the market. Something that eight years ago was unheard of, unless the product was perfect, and all the supply chain was ready, no one would even consider putting the product on the market. All the time, we're seeing they are become a little more gutsy, more experimental, kind of adapting the type of thinking we're seeing in startups. And I think that the corporates are good at doing that are not that different, at least in their mindset, from some of the best startups in the market.

“We're seeing today companies - well-known brand companies, very big companies - who are not afraid to place a proof of concept in the market. Something that eight years ago was unheard of, unless the product was perfect, and all the supply chain was ready.”

Chris: And in your role specifically, being partner VP, and I read “deep tech business innovation”, can you tell me what's in your job, but also what's out of your job to be done?

Hod: There's a pretty big shift in enabling technologies that can actually help solve the problems in the world today that we're seeing. And it's not enough just to say that these technologies are changing. And when these technologies change, and how companies operate or need to operate in order to leverage these technologies has to change, has to change as well. Very similar to companies that were not digital, all of a sudden digital technologies came about. You really have to change the inside of companies, so they could actually adapt. The same thing happening today. And the type of technologies that are now becoming the more dominant technologies, specifically around AI, around the edges, even around non-digital technologies, like synthetic biology, and nanotechnology, not to mention further out technologies, like quantum computing, they demand a different type of mindset, a different type of approach. And the work we do is to look at these technologies and assess their maturity to try to understand when will they be able to scale, so companies can actually build products and ship products to the markets using these technologies. Also, what type of use cases or what type of problems can these technologies solve? And once we understand the maturity level and the use cases they can solve, we can then make these technologies more accessible to our teams and also to our clients, so they can leverage these technologies to solve their business problems.

“The work we do is to look at emerging technologies and assess their maturity to try to understand when will they be able to scale, so companies can actually build products and ship products to the markets using these technologies.”

Chris: So that's “in” the job. But what's “not in” the job?

Hod: I'm not the classic business consultant. We're not looking for this other side of BCG. We're not looking so much at the strategy side of it, we're looking at how do we actually build and ship solutions to the market. When someone comes to me with a problem, the type of solution that I try to provide is: How can I leverage the most cutting edge technologies to deliver the most differentiating and highest impact product or solution into the market? It's not going to end up with a slide deck that describes the market opportunities. It's going to end up with an actual product in the market with users using this product.

Chris: Understood. So you guys are builders, right? As you said, you don't stop at PowerPoint, but actually build things and also launch them. Everybody knows about so-called ghostwriters. Are you guys something like “ghost innovators”?

Hod: Not quite. Something that has been true since the early days, when digital ventures began operating, is that the people around the table actually building the solutions are part people from digital ventures. So we do have the engineers, the innovators, the business leads, the designers. But there's going to be people from the client side. So it's a must that people from the client side who actually know the business of the client and the clients of the client are part of the process. They sit with us in the same room. And of course, people from BCG, the business consultants, and the solutions are built together. And this is from the first moment when we meet, when we need to start thinking of concepts of what can we do through the validation process, the build, and the shipping out of the product to the market. Everything is done as a group together.

Chris: So how does that work in detail? Can I come to you and say, “Hey Hod, on Bloomberg, I read Metaverse is going to be huge, like 800 billion by 2024. Can you build me a venture that captures 10% of the market? Is that a typical request? Or how will we get in touch with you and then start building a venture?

Hod: Look at growth opportunities and trying to move into new markets by introducing new solutions is a good starting point. And sometimes clients come in with very specific ideas in mind on what they think should be built. And then we can move directly to validation and explore if their concepts or ideas actually float. And if not, what changes we need to make to actually make these things succeed. And in other times, these are my favorite, it's a blank sheet, we need to do something, but what should we do? And then we need to be able to come in and say, based on our understanding of markets and needs, of frictions and of user behaviors and trends in the market, and on the other side emerging technologies: What can these technologies do by when and will they be able to do what we're thinking. Based on that, we can begin to create concepts and then over time, evolve these concepts into real companies.

Chris: So for example, take emerging technologies. There is so much buzz out there on emerging technologies, because there is just so much going on. How could you possibly and accurately assess those emerging technologies, for example, in terms of their applicability? Can you make an example case?

Hod: You can actually divide the evolution of technology, if we look furthest out. There are technologies are still in the lab, they can do certain things, but they're not market ready yet. You move a little bit closer to us, we have what we call “technologies that are getting momentum”. There's already some market traction, but it's still limited. And you can argue that this is where the Metaverse is right now, also maybe NFTs. And then at our present time, there are the technologies which are ready to scale, so you can actually build something and scale it very easily. And then there's the commoditized technologies. Now, it really depends on who is the client, and what is their appetite for risk, and how soon do they need to go to a to market? Because some companies are looking out very far into the future. So it will be around “which technologies are actually are in the lab right now?”, and will we be able to scale in five years, seven years? Other clients, because of different reasons, they really have to go to market within the next six months, next 12 months. So this timescale actually defines which types of technologies and which types of use cases you can begin to consider, because you could argue that almost any problem, you can solve it with today's solutions, and you can also solve it with tomorrow's solutions. Maybe the only domain where this doesn't apply, is climate. Because over there, there are some serious issues, where one of the problems is that the furthest out technologies are the ones we believe can actually help solve the problems we're facing. And there are fewer options with existing or ready to scale technologies. But in many other domains, whatever the problem is, you can solve it with today's technologies and this is what it would look like. Or if you're willing to invest in the future, we can leverage further out technologies, and then this is what the solution is going to look like.

Chris: That's pretty interesting! So you have both: People from your client at the table and also people from your team. And I would assume that the mixture of people is quite diverse. So you have business people, for example, that often don't have too deep insights about what technology can actually do. But on the other side, you also have engineers with no concerns about the business or basically no concerns about making money, but they are, of course, the experts. Now you have these different types and groups of people and also interests. There is a chasm, right? So how could you possibly overcome this? And that's not only specifically on you, right? What is a possible way how to overcome this?

Hod: First of all, I agree with you. I think, especially when it comes to new and emerging technologies, on one extreme, you have the business people who like to float many interesting ideas. Sometimes these ideas are not very well-connected to what the technology can actually do today, or will be able to do. On the flip side, you have engineers who are very passionate about certain technologies, but don't have a lot of interest towards the business implications of it. So how is actually someone going to make a profit, or how is this thing going to generate revenues? And to be honest, sometimes you need those business visionaries that say, “hey, something can be done. It must be done regardless if we have the solution already”. And it's true that sometimes you need engineers that say, “there is something very significant we can develop right now. We don't know yet exactly which business case it's going to serve, but it's such a cool technology that we have to go and pursue it”. We're somewhere in the middle where we're trying to bridge this gap and to say, from a business perspective, this is how far we think you can go. And from a technology perspective, this is what we believe technologies can do today and tomorrow. So let's try to find this connecting point that actually defines a concept that we can begin to test and evolve and take to the market, which is something between the very pie in the sky ideas and the vision and the very high excitement of technologies to find something which actually connects and that we can actually build.

“We're trying to bridge the gap between technology excitement and business opportunities. We understand, from a business perspective, this is how far we think you can go. And from a technology perspective, this is what we believe technologies can do today and tomorrow.”

Chris: When you build those ventures, do they actually end up under the brand of your corporate clients or is that also different?

Hod: Sometimes they end up under the brand of the corporate clients. Sometimes because of business reasons, companies decide to build a separate brand that they want to push into the market. Sometimes it ends up as some type of internal tool within these companies that they actually use, and you wouldn't really find some type of known public branding behind it.

Chris: How does that impact speed or velocity? In which setup can one move faster? Is there anything you can tell us about that?

Hod: I think this is part also of what you're asking about the velocity has to do with the type of the enabling technologies that we're using. When the majority of products we built were based on web and mobile, I think within, if you're very fast, within six months, if you took your time longer, possibly 12 months, you could actually build and ship a product to the market, hire the team, recruit the team, you can put it in the market. And now there is a growing interest in more sophisticated and more advanced technologies. So we're kind of moving once again into territories which are less known because there's less market experience, you might say. As you can say, everybody's very excited about the metaverse, but how many successful metaverse products are in the markets, we can actually understand the mechanics and on the subtleties of exactly how it has to work. And you can say the same about generative AI. And there's some other emerging topics which are very exciting. And we can actually build stuff with them. But the basics are not as well as known as well. I can give an example. If you were to design an app today, it goes without saying everybody knows where the hamburger button should go and where the contact ask button goes. Now imagine you're in a virtual immersive environment. Okay. Where does the contact ask button go? Okay. Where is the setting button to go? Sometimes it's very basic questions about UX, and sometimes it's more profound questions about the technology itself, but we are the deluge of technologies that we've seen kind of hit the market recently. There's a lot that we can do. And there's a lot we have to figure out at the same time about these technologies. There are many opportunities, but also many questions.

Chris:  So I would like to talk a bit about the outcomes. But before we do that, I would love to play a quick round of a game hot. And the game is called Either-Or. It's a really simple game. This is how it works. I'd like to give you two options. And your task would be: choose one and then spend one sentence each or maybe two sentences each to briefly explain your choice. Let's see what happens. And by the way, speed is key. So we're not trying to overthink, but just shoot. No time to hesitate. Exactly. All right. Number one, hot. Are you either a night owl or an early bird?

Hod: Early bird.

Chris: Why?

Hod: I need to get the day moving. I get very restless. So when I wake up in the morning, I just have to get up and start to do some stuff. And to that end, I try to leave myself notes. The previous night, what is it exactly I should start doing the following morning? Because I just want to get moving. And you don't even have to think about what to do on that day because you already have the notes, so you can start kicking things off. Yeah, it's right. I'm a very avid note taker. So I leave myself notes on what I should actually do the following day. Very powerful. Okay, got it. All right. Number two, when you have time off, and you would have to decide either hiking or swimming. Hiking. Hiking. Yeah. Why? I actually love outdoor sports very much and also extreme sports. Cool. But the type of sports where you cannot just stop and think about what you have to do next. Like stop and actually, this actually worries me. So this rules out sky jumping and deep sea diving. All those sports you really can't stop, right? You have to keep going, here I like to pause sometimes and kind of think through what I have to do next. Left, right, up, down.

Chris: Yeah. And in base jumping, you can't do that. That's kind of true. Once you go, you go, right? It's just down, and you take it or leave it. That's very true. All right. Okay. Number three, we talked about the metaverse. What do you think, let's say in a rather short term time horizon, maybe say three years, two, three years, either have meetings in the metaverse or keep using Zoom and MS Teams and the like? What do you think is more realistic to hit mass market or to keep being in mass market?

Hod: I would like to believe that it's going to be in immersive environments, actually. So I'm spending a lot of time in my work to try to figure out how that works. But admittedly, it has to be the better solution. So it has to be something which people use freely and they actually on their own choice, they realize it's actually better than using the older solution. And right now it's not there yet for many, many reasons we can discuss. So I can see the benefits. I think any person who has ever put a VR headset on their head, okay, you get this kind of feeling that I get it. This is the future. Okay. But at the same time, you also realize there are a lot of issues that have to be solved. Okay. So a lot of potential, but also a lot of problems. I would   really like to find a way to make this a reality, but there are challenges.

From startup to success: Cross-industry venture building

Chris: Yeah. So lots of things still to do until this is replacing existing solutions because the new ones are better. Got it. Okay. Yeah. So let's get back to your business. Can we talk about some of the outcomes and maybe just a few numbers, obviously not something that you are not allowed to share, but for example, how many businesses did you launch and can you maybe just tell an example or two, obviously not naming anything that would lead to a connection to the actual brand, but just some examples you can give?

"We don't invest in other startups. It's actually our people and the clients' people that build these companies and ship them into the markets."

Hod: Yeah. So I think that since the day that digital ventures began operating under the umbrella of BCG, we've launched over 200 businesses into the market. So I think this makes us the biggest venture builder in the world in the sense that we're not a venture capital arm. We don't invest in other startups. It's actually our people and the clients' people that build these companies and ship them into the markets. We're actually the builders of these businesses. Some of the companies that I was involved in bringing to the market that I'm very proud of one company focused on a voice transcription services for lab scientists. So if you can imagine a lab scientist in the lab with all of their gear and equipment trying to operate a microscope and also take notes on what they're doing. We built one, I think it was one of the first actually voice transcription services in the markets for this type of environment. And not only could you take notes, you could also operate some of the equipment in the lab using voice. Now we're beginning to get accustomed to it. It doesn't feel like such a big deal anymore. But when we actually did, it was quite cutting edge. Another venture I was involved in that I really enjoyed was for heavy industries. So steel mills and other factories where there is a lot of risk and a lot of injuries because of these environments. We developed a computer vision solution that can detect risk before it happens. So if you're about to get run over by a forklift or there is a crane moving above your head with a heavy load, we use the combination of computer vision and IoT devices to detect the risk and then alert the actual people who are about to be at risk in real time. And this is our solution. There are few others, quite exciting ones. So safety solutions, maybe have a third example, just because they sound so promising. There was one we did also in the early days for an off-flight, off-road, off-highway fleet. So this is for construction equipment mostly, which is in the field. And we did our typical work with the client trying to understand exactly what is the issue with these types of operations. And we found out that it turns out that the people that operate these types of machines, they just have a tendency never to shut them down. They just keep on running. The engines just keep on running because why? I mean, you can just, nobody cares. And there was a very big problem of utilization of this equipment. We had one instance when we did the ethnographic research in the field to understand how these businesses operate, when one of our clients said that he got a call one morning and one of his clients, the construction company, asked him, you have one of your big diggers sitting here for the last six months. Are you coming to pick it up? Or what? They didn't even know where these machines are at. And the typical telematics equipment is quite complex. You need to hardwire a lot of sensors into these machines, which make it very expensive. And machine specific, we developed a kind of simple sensor box, relatively simple. There's some complexity to it, that you could actually, using magnets, attach it to the side of the machine. It begins to understand how the machine operates. It begins to understand how it's utilized, location, etc. So from a very complex, very expensive telematics equipment to a very simple box, you just latch to the side of the machine, and you can begin to operate your fleets. The simplicity of this solution was such a clean and simple solution, was something to admire.

Chris: Pretty cool. So I probably could go on by asking about 10 or 15 other ventures you've built because they all sound unique, but at the same time, you're solving real challenges. But I would also like to draw a bit from your experience in that field in general. So if I would ask you about your three key actionable recommendations for others, building ventures, researching, but also then applying emerging technologies, what would be your top three?

Hod: So I guess part of the magic over here is trying to align these things. If you look at these things separately, then they may lead you in the wrong direction. There has to be something over here, you have to strike some balance between what is happening in the market, so what opportunities, maybe trends or needs are emerging in the market, what technologies can do, and by when will they be able to do these things. And you have to look very closely at the actual assets of the clients with which we were working, because they typically have something that they can do which is unique to their company. And you have to leverage that in some way, it can be just any random solution that you can build. So I think you have to be able to look very closely, understand very well the problems you're trying to solve. And this is not an easy exercise. Sometimes you have to dig quite deep to understand exactly what is working and what is not working. I think when we were dealing with a web and mobile world, because we all had the mobile device in our hand, we kind of understood how these devices work, we understood the applications, everybody became an expert app builder even if they never built any app because you're using these all the time. All of a sudden, we were beginning to deal with data sets of companies, we're trying to build NFT solutions for banks, and using AI to solve some complex healthcare problems, you're moving into domains where you have to understand very deeply what is happening behind the walls of these companies to be able to come up with a solution. These are not easy to find gold nuggets, I guess, in the old west, the first people that went to the west, the gold was just sitting in the streams. All you had to do is stick your hand in the water, pick up the gold nugget and find a solution. We're more of a kind of deep mining type of world. You really have to dig deep to find the problems and the solutions. Yeah, so that's probably number one, number one, action or recommendation.

"Part of the magic is trying to align these things. You have to strike some balance between what is happening in the market, so what opportunities,  trends or needs are emerging, what technologies can do, and by when will they be able to do these things."

Chris: What about number two and three?

Hod: The next thing I think that we must do, we should not shy away from cutting edge technologies. There's always this risk hasn't been built yet, nobody has done it yet. But this is actually where the opportunity lies because nobody has done it yet. This is where there's opportunity. And if people are to risk averse, you begin to shift to more commoditized technologies. And these technologies can do certain things. The type of problems you can solve with a mobile solution is very different to the type of problems you can solve with a synthetic biology or a nanotech solution. And it's very different to the type of problems you can solve with using generative AI, for example. Each one of those, yes, carries different risks, but can solve problems in different ways. And if you're really trying to bring a new innovation to the market, you're really trying to create something which is differentiated. You want to put yourself ahead of the market, then the solution sometimes is with these more advanced technologies. And you need to be courageous. You need to believe that these technologies can actually deliver. There are processes to validate these assumptions. You're not jumping into the market with a solution in one day. You actually test, and you build as you go along. But you need to have the openness to say, okay, I'm actually going to go on the journey with these type of technologies, so I can reach these higher impact solutions.

Chris: Yeah. And I guess this is also part of the current metaverse discussion, right? Because that's also what's happening, right? Somebody is trying to be first, create a business model in the market, but still, of course, it's untapped. It's unexplored, right? Which is creating a lot of confusion, insecure and the like.

Hod: Yeah, you have one of the world's biggest business leaders, okay? A company, meta, right? That's a funnel. There's maybe four and a half billion people on the internet today. Something like three and a half billion out of those are using their products. So Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram. So a very significant player who is making a massive bet on the technology that does not exist yet. Okay, so it takes some courage and to do some of that. But I think it also emerges from the point where if you're looking at existing technologies, how much more value and differentiation these technologies can create, there is a feeling that they're reaching the edges of what digital actually has to offer. So you have to take this next leap. And similar to the race to the moon, maybe the decision to fly to the moon wasn't done when there was a solution of how to fly to the moon. It was just ambition to get to the moon. Okay, so I think we have today the ambition to get to the metaverse because we understand we can foresee how disruptive and how beneficial it can be. Still a ton of questions to solve on how exactly to get there.

"If you're really trying to bring a new innovation to the market, you're really trying to create something which is differentiated, and you want to put yourself ahead of the market, then the solution sometimes is with these more advanced technologies. And you need to be courageous."

Chris: Of course, yeah. But I think that that flying to the moon example is also a nice one when compared to a metaverse or any other untapped areas. All right, and finally, number three, any other key action or recommendation for venture builders out there or business builders out there?

Hod: So you need to understand what is the - how should I say -  what is unique about the technologies which are emerging today that you can leverage, okay, to actually create something which is different. And I think if you take a step back, and you think about the technologies which are becoming available today, and broadly, let's say metaverse, a web through to all with all the crypto world kind of entangled in it. And new materials and terrible technology, quantum computing, what is the essence? How are these technologies different from what was available to us until today? And I think what these technologies actually redefine is how we're going to interact with each other, how we're going to interact with our environment and how we're going to interact with technology in a completely different way to what we've done before. And the zoom example you gave is like a perfect, like a simple example, we're engaging in a certain way right now, we drive a certain discussion, a certain experience, a certain feeling. If we were to have this exact same discussion in an immersive environment, not as is possible today, but something really looks kind of out of this world, okay, the avatar looks exactly like us, we have all the face expressions, we have full bodies, our hands and of course this discussion would be, it would feel different, it would be a different discussion. And you can say the same thing about nanotechnology, synthetic biology, the way we can interact with nature changes. So I think if we understand that the door is now opening to kind of rethink almost our relationship and our interface with our environment and each other is now changing because of these technologies as innovators, this now opens the door to do two things which are very fundamental. You can think of everything which has been built until today and say considering these new capabilities, can I build the next better option? Okay, the next better iteration and in many cases the answer is yes. You have the metaverse, you have Web 3.0, you have AI, you can actually now build a better solution from any existing solutions and the other question you have to ask yourself, can I actually build something that I could not build before? Okay, so can I decentralize things in a way that I could not decentralize before? Can I get people together in augmented or immersive experiences I could not do before? And again the answer is yes. And for innovators, I think if you understand these technologies, what's unique about them and the opportunities they open, these are the kind of the paths you should follow.

Chris: Yeah understood. All right, so three key recommendations. That's like a playbook even for venture builders or innovators. Thanks for sharing that based on your experiences so far. And finally, Hod, I need to ask you one thing before we close this episode. When you look back on your professional career so far, at least, what would you say, Hod, was your greatest Innovation Rockstar moment to date?

Hod: We were working for my first startup, and we signed our first big deal with the client. And so what I'm about to say here is going to give you a range from when this thing happened. We actually got a check for 20 million pounds. This is like our first big deal. And when you're in startup mode, and you're working literally 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you don't often start to, you stop to think, oh, you know, how much work did I invest in? But it was this one moment where kind of you actually realized all of this work, all of this effort, okay, someone is willing to spend their hard-earned money on something that we've built, okay? Something that, you know, the team actually brought to life from just an idea we had to something people are willing to spend money on. They could have shopped around and solved the problems they had in a million different ways, and they chose to actually do it with us. This was like, we've done something meaningful.

Chris: Yeah, that's proudness. That's a rockstar moment. Beautiful! That's it for this episode. I would like to thank you so much again for being my guest on this episode, and it was a pleasure to listen to you, understanding the kind of the playbook of venture building if you want to, right? And thanks for being my guest. Really appreciate it. I really enjoyed it. And to everybody listening or watching if you enjoyed this episode, then simply leave us a comment on this episode or just you know, drop us an email at That's it. Thanks for listening. Take care, everybody, and bye-bye. 

About the authors

Dr. Christian Mühlroth is the host of the Innovation Rockstars podcast and CEO of ITONICS. Hod Fleishman is Partner, VP, Deep Tech Business Innovation at BCG X, Boston Consulting Group’s new tech build and design unit.

The Innovation Rockstars podcast is a production of ITONICS, provider of the world’s leading Operating System for Innovation. Do you also have an eduspiring story to tell about innovation, foresight, strategy or growth? Then shoot us a note!



See the ITONICS Innovation OS in action

Book Your Free Demo