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See how Xinova partners with PepsiCo and Innit to launch the new Seattle restaurant tech startup, SousZen, that aims to digitize ‘back of house’.

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What is the future of work? Xinova is working to create that future for all of us. Today, we work in a gig economy, or a labor market composed of short-term contracts and freelance work. With Xinova, the way we work can be aligned with our passions, talents, and expertise, and paid based on our actual contributions. 

The much-discussed “future of work” must, and will, include the most highly skilled experts demanded by the most intricate long-term projects. This future will create more value and offer an equitable stake to participants compared to what’s available with the lower-skilled one-off tasks populating today’s gig economy. This effectively expands the post-gig-economy from sourcing local drivers to give rides on demand to tapping global innovative expertise, for example, to design new modes of transport and construct smart commercial facilities.

Brad Roberts - Senior Vice President, Growth & Scale Group

by Brad Roberts, Global Head of Network Platform

It starts with a platform. The distributed innovator network driving this future requires seamless connections to meaningful commercial opportunities and new capital networks. In fact, it means developing whole new networks for every pillar of innovation, from talent and technology to capital and demand.

But before we discuss this future, let’s first reflect on a very special birthday. Xinova turned two years old in June, 2019. And yet I have been “here” for nine-and-half years, while some members of our network have been with “us” since 2006, working from all over the globe and in all sorts of capacities. How can this be? What does this mean? 

While every startup has a pivot or two, ours was so transformational that we consider Xinova to be completely distinct from its prior incarnation. In its previous 13 years, Xinova started in the context of a patent-focused investment fund, molted a few times, and two years ago we emerged with today’s market network vision, matching elite innovators’ skills with companies’ innovation needs. Our development coincided with the ascendance of social networks like LinkedIn and market platforms like Amazon and eBay. Realizing our unique positioning at the junction of these twin turbines of the digital economy, we saw an opportunity to change the way innovation is done across all industries and most borders.

We saw we could open a new horizon for the future of work.

The future of work

Though perhaps not the most famous, Xinova is one of the first key players in the category that is now called, “the future of work.”  Our history has paved a new path for how smart people around the world can engage in meaningful, valuable work. 

Gig economy offerings have generally ignored technical expertise and complex, long-term projects and that has to change.  The future of innovation is what we’re building: your company’s future, your child’s career, your next project.  Ultimately, we welcome the folks who consider “gigs” to be work, but we think there’s much more to it than that.  Whether you’re a CEO or a technologist or both, your problems are complex, and you yourself are talented, trained, and motivated to work on projects that you find meaningful and relevant to your expertise.

There is no “Uber for corrosion analysis” because it’s not something you can commoditize.  The tasks within an innovation project resist being compartmentalized into a one-off service. Innovation doesn’t mean tightening a screw on an old diesel engine; it means designing, building, testing and marketing a new electric car, from long-range battery technology to autonomous driving AI to charging station infrastructure. Each task in an innovation project exists dynamically within its greater context, where every moving part needs to be understood and properly aligned to achieve success. Such complexity requires long-term commitment from participants, who are driven by financial incentive to see the job done, and the emotional investment to see it done well!

Platform-enabled future

A new platform is needed to evolve the gig economy into a market network. Lack of more complex, dynamic platforms has constrained distributed work to the gig economy’s simple, one-off services. Over the past two years our team has established and built up our internal software capabilities to enable standardization and automation of our process of bringing innovators and opportunities together.

working on computer

Continuously re-tooling under the hood, we recently launched features allowing us to partition projects up into smaller and smaller pieces with more clearly defined milestones.  This work will propagate to the Xinova platform as numerous opportunities of different scale.  Think of it like chapters of a book vs an entire anthology.  It’s yet another way that we’re working to make it easier to work with Xinova and our partners.

The future of co-innovation

Likewise, a CEO knows that while they have smart people in their company, there’s always someone smarter.  If you can access that smart, motivated individual to work on the project because they’re properly incented with its long-term success in mind, the quality of the work and the emotional investment will be commensurate with alignment of interests.  The opportunities we publish are scalable to finding an expert for a day and on to designing, building, financing, and operating a bespoke startup to solve a supply chain issue on a multi-year timescale.  That’s not just the future of work, that’s the future working for you.

The future of capital networks 

Investors of all stripes–retail, venture, and banking–generally want a variety of choice as well, with appropriate matching between the constraints and interest that they’re driven by. The capital networks that we’re engaging with are finding promising opportunities to engage with specific innovation projects. Diversifying risk by pairing smart innovators with well-defined commercial problems, even if the technology or market fit is risky, is still a recipe for success when structured properly as our friends in the bio-pharma space have learned over the past 20 years.

Everything is right about the work that we do today because it’s what we have learned to do well as innovators.  Think of innovation as being supported by four pillars: talent (innovators); technology (IP); capital (investment and financial instruments); and, critically, market demand. There is a global misalignment of these pillars, and matching distributed innovators around the world with global innovation challenges corrects that misalignment. However, we’re finding that the future of what we are doing in innovation is dependent on massive expansion of the marketplace of capabilities, opportunities, and types of investments. 

My primary focus going forward will be on capital networks. To that effect, if you haven’t already, it’s worth checking out the Joint Venture of which I’m a co-founder, ArcNet, which seeks to securitize innovation projects globally.  This work and other partnerships will allow us to focus our expertise and rely on the expertise of others; as they bear fruit we’ll be talking about them publicly, but keep an eye out for “beta” engagements as we evolve them! 

I’ll end with some new-found finance punnery: being a part of the future of work isn’t an option, it’s a derivative; the projects you engage on will all be options!


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