Innovation tears


El Periódico de Cataluña
Innovation tears
December 2015, article published originally in El Periódico de Catalunya


Innovation tears

4YFN Stage 2015 MWC

Two different cities but a single emotion. Listening to those men, I felt small, dwarfed, almost insignificant before those giants. To call them people fighting daily to keep adversity at bay would be unfair. Only us that were there and heard their trembling voices when telling their story can understand it. A few letters from this columnist cannot convey the meaning of those tears, and even less the strength they carried. They were the executive summary of their stories, pearls of innovation, liquid soul.

The first story took place in Valladolid. Summed up, I had to endure 10 hours in transit on a single day to speak 45 minutes there. I had to get up at 5 in the morning and take two trains going and two more coming back (changing trains at the Madrid station, wonderful, is it not?) Ugh! I though before accepting the professional compromise, when I checked the itinerary. But I decided to go, because I thought it worthwhile to take part as a lecturer -invited by the Junta de Castilla y Leon– in an event recognizing two small start-ups as especially innovative out of an acceleration program within a business incubator (you know, places build by the administration to potentiate new business projects that are supported from their first steps until they reach a size that let them “fly” on their own). Up to here, nothing new under the sun.

Nonetheless, the day had an unexpected turn (I’ve always wanted to say that) the moment one of the award-winners went up to collect his prize. I witnessed how his voice started to tremble, his eyes shoot up unseeing and his tale tinted with emotion. He was proud, happy, satisfied with what his team and he had achieved with the resources at their disposal in the time devoted to develop their project. Then tears welled in his eyes, and in mine. From far off, in that instant, I thought the early start had paid off, and so had the killer train journey.

Something similar happened a few days later, in the city of Tarragona. I was invited again to lecture, this time by Banco Popular, in an event focused on SMEs, of which El Periódico newspaper was co-organizer. There it was the turn of a businessman with a project consolidated today but that had lived for a few years a perfect storm that almost brought it down. With determination, a brutal imagination for innovation and a lot of effort, he told us with liquid flowing from his eyes, they were able to turn the blind alley they had been living in into a highway of opportunities.  In both cases, I though those were tears worth shedding.

This article was originally published in El Periódico de Cataluña.

A speaker in the startup congress 4YFN about to go onstage (picture by Dan Taylor)

Formado en la Escuela Suiza (habla 4 idiomas), Pablo Foncillas es licenciado en derecho y MBA del IESE Business School. Compagina su vida en el entorno académico y como conferenciante junto con roles directivos y de consultoría en varias industrias desde los años 90. ¿Hablamos? Clica aquí para contactarme por correo electrónico