The Innovation Uncensored conference in San Francisco started with a series of off-sites experiences where participants could visit some interesting start-ups. I visited Hint Water, where CEO Kara Goldin explained the unique positioning of her naturally flavored waters, a healthy alternative to soft drinks without the side effects of sugar alternative. Her story was not only about product innovation, but about innovating the distribution stream. For example the company sells directly to corporations that want to offer healthier drinks to their employees, and to school campuses that want to impact the long-term health of their students.

My second visit was to Counsyl, a fascinating DNA testing company. Their story started with the genome-mapping project that offered new capabilities to test for genetic related risks. As the team developed and verified their ideas for genetic testing, they recognized that to be successful they had to do more than simply analyze samples; the had to rethink the process, from doctor’s authorization, to counseling once the results were delivered. This required convincing doctors how their product and services together, could make their lives easier.

One example showcased easy ways to order tests on line, collecting and analyzing samples, then providing not only the results but counseling with in-home staff of counselors, who call patients back within five minutes of their initial requests! Because of their unique background, the solutions developed included innovative use of software. Robotics performed most of the testing steps, analysis and reporting, which challenges many of the traditional way the medical system works. Ramji Srinivasan, the CEO summarized this by saying that because they came from an engineering background, rather than the medical world, they were able to rethink the medical process altogether and to bring a full innovative suite of solutions.

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