Ahead of her presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York this December 5-6th, we spoke to Liz Wessel, the Co-Founder and CEO of WayUp.
WayUp is the largest marketplace created exclusively for the US college students to get jobs and internships. Founded in 2014, WayUp is based in New York and was named by CNN as one of the 30 most innovative companies changing the world in 2015. Prior to founding WayUp and after graduating from UPenn, Liz worked at Google as a Product Marketing Manager in California, and then in India. Liz has recently been mentioned on the 'Forbes 30 Under 30' 2016 list.
How did you get started in your career?
I graduated from Penn and went directly to Google as a Product Marketing Manager, then later cofounded WayUp. However, during my time in college, I started a company that really helped me to realize how much I love entrepreneurship, so I would argue that my career started at the moment I founded my first company.
How would you describe a successful innovation strategy?
Look at what your users and customers want, then figure out how you can meet their needs in a way no one else is doing.
What are the main challenges companies face when they deliver innovation?
It's easy to try and be innovative, but you never want to lose your focus. At the end of the day, trying to always be on top of the latest and greatest technology can result in you not being able to focus on building one great product.
How important is it to collaborate with the startup community? How can corporates and startups benefit from each other in terms of innovation?
When a startup is truly in a startup mode, partnering with a big corporation can often distract from hitting the company's goals. After all, corporations have lots of bureaucracy, and you are way less important to them than they are to you. However, as a corporation, trying to find companies to invest in - both as a customer or as a partner - can help you to stay on top of trends, while also associating yourself with cutting-edge technology.
What will you be discussing in your presentation at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit?
I'm going to discuss why failure to innovate in the traditional working practices is one of the main reasons your organization isn't retaining the best talent. I will talk about the future of employees, millennials, and why more are choosing to go down the route of entrepreneurship as a result of this. I will also discuss strategies you can leverage to ensure you don't fall into this trap.
You can hear from Liz and other industry leaders at the Chief Innovation Officer Summit, taking place in New York this December 5-6th.