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To Invent or Innovate, That is The Question

July 18, 2012


Any business school student could write you pages on the difference between innovation and invention. An invention, or so we’ve been told, is a great idea whereas an innovation is something that changes a market, that alters the way we go about our everyday life. It is that great idea at work. Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford were all not just inventors, they were innovators that brought change to their society and made life better for people. 

The tech industry is undoubtedly booming again and venture capitalists are out scouting for the next idea. Unfortunately, today, Silicon Valley seems to be more focused on Ford’s assembly line technique than the wonder of the first Model T. There seems to be just a few ideas out there, and they all start with that dreaded “s” word: “social”. Let’s face it, a person—even a tween—only needs so many social networks. And there can be only so many innovations in the same space. At some point, these great variations on the same idea are regulated back to inventions, destined to join the Sock Puppet in the annals of good ideas with nothing more going for them than a pretty face or catchy slogan. 

Maybe I am too much of an optimist,  but I firmly believe that innovation is still out there, and that innovation is still what makes our country great.  It is what differentiates us.  It is why Apple products are “designed in Cupertino” but  “assembled in China”. 

Here at, we’ve created our business around the idea of making it easier for accountants, business owners, and financial professionals alike. It’s a problem I’ve been trying to solve all my life as a fourth-generation finance industry entrepreneur. Making life easier for this market has driven me as strongly as Ben Franklin’s own frustration with his eyesight drove him to create bifocals. We are succeeding because we have built something we know and something we believe in.

So, my advice to today’s young Ben Franklins or the next Steve Jobs? Build what you know, not what the venture capitalists want to see. Don’t try to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Strive to be the first you.


– René Lacerte, CEO and Founder

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