How to drive innovation by thinking like a mature startup

August 1, 2018


We’ve all seen it. The starry-eyed enthusiasm of a startup that’s confidently, indubitably, 110% certain they’re on the verge of changing the world. To those of us well aware of the sobering statistic that 9 out of 10 startups are doomed to fail, it’s easy to find this optimism guileless, if not a tad exhausting.

On the other hand, while we can criticize the startup mentality for being heavy on drive and determination and light on reason and experience, there’s just as much danger in allowing the bureaucracy of business-as-usual to tip that scale in the opposite direction. When the passion is snuffed out and processes become too rigid, innovation is stifled—particularly in an industry like printing where technology is always evolving.

Fortunately, I work for a company that’s grown up without losing its startup spirit.


Growth can be hard in business. You grow too fast. You grow too slow. You lose sight of your vision somewhere along the way. Luckily for Memjet, while we may be well established in the digital printing industry, at our core, we’re still the same company that set out to change the future of print nearly 15 years ago.  

Our secret? A culture that is deeply rooted in innovation. We are, and have always been, a company that is fixated on research and development. Everything we do is driven by a veritable obsession with developing forward-looking technology solutions for our partners. It’s what keeps our fire lit.

When you’re part of a startup you do things a lot differently. You have more freedom and flexibility to develop technology faster and easier. You’re able to make quicker decisions based on your customers’ needs and what the market demands to be successful. And the trust is there. You’re trusted, and empowered, to do your job.

I’ve worked at Memjet for the past decade, and a notable difference I see in the company today is we now have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. We’ve applied what we’ve learned in the past to develop new modular solutions that are easier to integrate and make our partners more successful.


In my experience, being part of a printing technology company that embraces progressive thinking and trusts its employees to find the best way to achieve a goal means a world of difference to our OEM partners.

It means faster decisions: At Memjet, you’re empowered to make decisions quickly, and given the freedom and support from your team to do so. In an industry that’s always trying to build the next great product, quick decisions translate to faster solutions and faster time to market—which often translates to faster profits in this business. It’s what sets us apart from some of the larger organizations that are tied down by bureaucracy in the decision making process.

It means stronger partner relationships: Our partners appreciate that we’re able to work closely with them from the beginning to the end of product development. We provide extensive support throughout the product lifecycle, helping our partners envision ways to customize solutions for each market segment or application—and allowing them to differentiate within these markets. If a partner asks for something that is outside of what we have planned, we also have the flexibility to think differently about how to support that market need. We’re motivated to make sure they’re successful in adopting new technology and bringing it to market.

It means better technology solutions: Giving partners the ability to work closely with our R&D and business teams ultimately results in better technology offerings. One example of this is our new modular platform approach, DuraLink. We’ve taken the complexity out of printer development with this solution by providing all the necessary components in a modular architecture that our OEMs can quickly integrate into their final product. It allows each partner to focus on customizing a unique application without having to worry about how the technology works. This modular technology offering is a direct result of our culture and its focus on empowering the OEM.


In business and in life, the more we surrender to the shackles of shared, formulaic thinking and processes, the less we trust our own ideas and instincts. We stop imagining and lose sight of what’s possible. If we allow this to happen in the technology space, it can be death to the creative process.

When innovation remains at the heart of your organization, you may grow up, but you’ll never grow tired or complacent. Smart companies find a way to learn from their experiences and successes without losing sight of the original change-the-world attitude that got them there.

Learn more about Memjet’s R&D culture and watch a video at

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