Interviews

Interview Abraham Asefaw

Abraham Asefaw - Cofounder of
The Pop Up Agency
"Developing is so important, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are developing
to stay ahead of the curve, just to be in the curve."
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1. Hi Abraham, could you introduce yourself?
So, my name is Abraham, and I’m the cofounder of a company called “The Pop Up Agency”.

2. What is great innovation to you?
Great Innovation can be two things. Innovation can be input, so basically the process, or innovation can be the output, but in terms of your question, what is good innovation for me? Innovation that enables access to a larger group, that is good innovation to me, I love that innovation. it’s also what you call “frugal innovation”, that type of innovation is something that I love, it’s like democratising things, making them accessible for larger groups of people, that’s the type of innovation that I love. And obviously I also love innovation that makes my life a bit easier, it is a bit selfish, but yeah.

3. Is there a technology that you would deem promising for the future?
Blockchain would be the one. I feel like there is substance with it. We’ve had blockchain for around 9 years now with cryptocurrencies, but I mean specifically block chain is something I truly believe is a great innovation. And we've not seen the potential of it yet. It enables transparency on another level. Obviously, it's going to challenge all these platforms and institutions, everything from banking to documentation, it’s just going to make it so much more efficient and again accessible. Just take for example this – Passport controls. I have mixed feelings about that. I've had a lot of incidents. They have these digital versions of controls now that you can scan your passport and that is your access. I love that, I don’t need those human interactions. A computer can do that, I think a human can’t be, no offence, 100 percent objective in those situations.

4. Where do you get your knowledge from, for these kinds of topics?
First internet, secondly, I have it from people that I know, and if I don't know anybody, I try to find somebody who knows stuff in the domain I am looking for information. I am going to tap in and try to learn from people.
For example, I'm interested in block chain, again I didn't have that much time, but I tried to get in contact with Tove Andersson today, because she is obviously much more experienced in that space. And today, it's easier than ever to find those people on social media.

5. Why do you see innovation is not happening within companies?
I think that's very simple. Regardless of business, size or industry we spend our time in 3 things: selling what we do, developing what we do, and basically executing what we do. And what a lot of companies tend to do is to sell what they do and execute. The very successful companies, regardless type, regardless industry, they manage to balance these three things.
Developing is so important, it doesn't necessarily mean you are developing to stay ahead of the curve, just to be in the curve. Developing can mean understanding the new areas to tap into, that could be more efficient in what we are actually already doing, so these are super important.

One of the reasons I think why people don't do that, why companies don't do that, is because it's an investment you are doing. So, you won't get a direct  ROI from it. Development is something for the future, but I think that's the most obvious pedal that I see.

6. How do you position yourself towards clients? Do you tell them what you see in their organisation and give recommendations in the direction they should go?
It depends on what kind of relationship, or brief I'm working on. In some cases, I'm working on a single product or service, or specific isolated things. In some cases, I'm working with the whole organisation and then I have that sort of mandate, that's actually my job to do that.

If I see something I always bring it up to the table for the client, and I've done it many times, even though it's not always what I have been asked to do. I run my own business so I definitely understand the value of getting that feedback and obviously l share it with everybody.

7. What do you especially see these people struggling within companies?
Again, going back to first of all not spending time on development, and then if they do, they maybe apply a ping pong table, and some Friday drinks, or some very artificial kinds of accessories. But again, it’s about creating a culture, it’s about actually creating a space for that, it’s about creating time for that, so people could actually allocate time towards that. So for me it goes back to innovation input and output. To get the output, you need to have that input. How do you create that environment for people, in all positions? You need to create that input.

Thank you, Abraham.