What's a problem that any business ranging from a Fortune 500 corporation to the mom-and-pop operation must constantly work to overcome?
Remaining relevant, according to Sarah Sharif, founder of Experimental Civics, Capsule and co-founder of Life Sci Hack. Sharif says she likens the struggle of staying in the mind of the customer to saving lives on the Titanic.
"You're on a sinking ship," said Sharif, one of the keynote speakers for the three-day Innovate South conference Nov. 13-15.
"How can you maximize the amount of lives you save? For most people, they say life boats, but that's getting pigeonholed into traditional thinking. Businesses have to innovate, but innovation requires you to think in different ways."
Sharif was director of ATX Hack for Change, driving 157 social innovation and emerging technology projects. Through Experimental Civics, she has launched over 10 workshops and 25 hackathons to increase awareness in open science, social innovation and design thinking while trying to empower communities through engagement in technology.
Innovate South will have speakers and panel discussions on topics that affect entrepreneurs ranging from startups to the well established. It will also focus on innovation, creativity and forward thinking in business and feature entrepreneurs, startup founders and small business owners.
The conference is being held in conjunction with National Entrepreneur Month. An estimated 550,000 people in the U.S. start a business each month, according to entrepreneur.com.
Sharif discuss product design and how entrepreneurs, especially in the health field, can break through and diversity in entrepreneurship.
"I believe diversity is a strength — whether it's cultural differences, age differences or gender differences," she said. "I think the misconception is that talent doesn't exist out there or they're lacking experience. What's truly lacking is access. We need to build up those pathways to allow access to these voices."
Other speeches and panels include raising capital, how to get your foot in the door with clients and getting your business to market. Gregarious Narain, a serial entrepreneur and founder of over a dozen companies, will be addressing the topic of getting products to market in his solo speech.
As founder of user-generate marketing service Chute, Narain has been on the cutting edge of technical, product and business development. He believes its all about seeing a problem.
"A lot of technology startups create a solution and then look for people with that problem," he said. "You have to make a product people want instead of making something and hoping people want it."
New business owners should first ask themselves: What is my product? Who are your customers? Where are they? Why do they need your product?
The biggest problem after creating a product people want, he noted, is knowing where their audience is. Entreprenuers, he noted, should use new tools to craft specific advertisements to target an audience.
"We have the ability to highly target our messaging, so mass marketing messaging that don't seem relevant to the specific audience is a huge wasted opportunity," he said. "If you make a message that's generic and bored as possible, then who is that good for?"
Registration is still open for the event with tickets available on Eventbrite ranging from $40-$60.