Liam Fitzgerald believes many businesses have a lack of cross-departmental clarity, an inability for executives to make strategic decisions and a lack of overall workplace morale. This belief led to the creation – with co-founder Robbie Parisius – of Connect2Co, which describes itself as “the future of productive work.”
“As a founder, my objective is to improve communication and collaboration, implement sustainable practices into companies of all sizes and drastically improve scalability in startups for fellow founders to reach their goals more effectively,” says Fitzgerald, whose company vision is to “transform the digital workspace into something that is engaging and meaningful, data-driven and efficient.”
Connect2Co won a 2023 $100,000 Encouraging Development, Growth & Expansion (EDGE) Grant from the Delaware Division of Small Business to support the growth of a business-to-business platform that enables businesses of all sizes to manage, optimize and collaborate with other companies. The tool essentially enables customers to operate a digital workspace from one central location, eliminating the need for toggling between various applications such as Gmail, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Salesforce.
Fitzgerald spoke to Delaware Prosperity Partnership about his views on innovation in Delaware and his advice to hungry innovators.
Delaware’s ecosystem of entrepreneurs and business professionals – and government entities driven by their ability to support small businesses and systems by providing access to vital resources and people – make Delaware a “Goldilocks zone” for innovation and innovators alike. Small businesses account for more than 98% of the businesses in Delaware, employing over 55% of the workforce. This supports the obvious presence of a breeding ground for entrepreneurs to provide value to each other in a multitude of ways.
Successful innovators have core qualities that define their success:
Understanding in the form of malleability. The presence of individual identity should not supersede an entrepreneur’s ability to listen to others in relation to feedback, criticism and support. Innovators must be sure in their mission and overarching objective but must simultaneously be willing to change course and pivot as their business or venture progresses. Communication and understanding are vital to improvement. Even if feedback is not used, shared perspectives give clarity to beautiful ideas and ventures.
Innovators must be leaders. Successful entrepreneurs and thinkers have different personality types. Some can lead in a school of thought, industry or field. Some are great managers who can realize the dormant abilities of their team and empower them to excel personally and within their organization. Some lack these qualities, but lead in their relentless persistence, drive and hunger to solve problems and create/offer solutions. Ideally all three leadership qualities should be evident in the perfect leader, but the third quality (persistence) will inevitably allow them to penetrate the market and achieve the other two qualities.
Innovators must have ideas or systems that are better than those that previously existed. This may be evident in the form of improvement to solutions, products and systems that already exist; innovative and cutting-edge solutions/products or services that do not exist; or the enablement of team members to realize their full potential and, in turn, bring their ideas to light. The ability to execute on these ideas is what differentiates thinkers from doers.
Understand your why, then your what, then your how. Figure out your purpose for your venture, then what you will offer and then dissect how you will fulfill what you will offer.
Plan with the objective to execute. You can write business plans, forecast your expenses and your revenue, create feasibility analysis and research statistics on your market, industry and customers, but nothing will come close to talking to your target customers. If I analyze what I did wrong and right, I can truly say that the best practice is to find an idea, talk to people you trust to establish preliminary validity of the idea, build part of the idea and start showing it to these people and getting users to test it.
Rinse and repeat this process incrementally, and your idea will grow into a tangible thing. Your customer/communication base will also increase. Creating or building something people want enables you to figure out if an idea is worth pursuing. This should be done in a way that the person/group you are targeting is so compelled by the product that their want becomes a need. Turning wants into needs creates urgency and encourages retention. This, however, depends highly on the target market and customer segment you are selling to. Luxury goods are attractive due to their exclusivity and scarcity – taking advantage of the want factor. Commodity goods like toothpaste and soap are attractive due to their necessity. Services offered, solutions developed or products created, however, can initially be something the consumer wants that, after use, makes them realize they need it (such as iPhone, Gmail, CRM Systems).