Jeff Hoffman, Priceline.com Founding Team Member, Discusses how Ideas can Become Successful Technology Businesses Through Innovation Mining

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"Staff meetings devoted strictly to brainstorming new ideas may seem like a waste of time to some in the organization but somewhere within the group is an idea that may be worth millions," said Hoffman at the CIO Roundtable Luncheon held at the Buckhead Club in November.

"Staff meetings devoted strictly to brainstorming new ideas may seem like a waste of time to some in the organization," said Jeff Hoffman, speaking at a recent CIO Roundtable Forum luncheon attended by Atlanta technology executives. "... but somewhere within the group is an idea that may be worth millions." Hoffman spoke on the need for businesses to create an ongoing innovation development process. He outlined a number of methods for farming solution ideas for development into viable businesses.

Hoffman, currently the managing partner of Smith-Hoffman Capital, an Atlanta based private equity firm focusing on early stage technology companies needing investment up to $5M, is an accomplished entrepreneur and technology innovator who started his first company while he was still attending Yale. Hoffman's first startup, a software company in the travel industry named CTI, was acquired by American Express and today still serves as its technology division. For his achievements, Jeff was named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives in travel and tourism worldwide.

Hoffman's other notable startups include Virtual Shopping, acquired by Europe's Wallenberg Group, and most recently, Priceline.com, where Jeff was one of the founding team and held two CEO titles in Priceline's family of companies. He currently serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Tech, as well as serving on the boards of numerous technology companies and charity organizations.

Hoffman explained that Priceline was developed from just such an 'invention day' where staffers were asked to bring up ideas that could solve a problem in the business world. Priceline was originally designed as an Internet service to organize and aggregate potential demand -- by pioneering the 'name your own price' concept, which enables capturing of potential lost sales at a consumer's 'price line,' still preserving a brand's pricing policy.

"We had just finished a large job designing an Internet travel service, and had the market relationships and technical staff primed, so this was a natural starting point," Hoffman observed. Though affected by the dot com 'bust,' Hoffman believes the company weathered the storm because Priceline had an economic model of 'everyone wins,' a concept he believes is as important as the idea itself.

"Innovation just doesn't occur naturally on a regular basis. Something spurs it. Anything a company can do to formerly accelerate the process is a worthwhile exercise," Hoffman said. "A good idea must also have the right economic model where the customer, the company and the supplier are happy with the results of the product transaction. When those two things are done, the idea that solves a problem and the correct economic model, you have a potential winning business formula."

The CIO Roundtable Forum was conceived by Dr. 'Narsi' Narasimhan and is sponsored by Paalam, Inc., a company he co-founded. Dr. Narasimhan is a former Professor at Georgia Tech and noted Atlanta technology entrepreneur. "The CIO Roundtable is meant as a discussion forum with ample networking opportunities," Dr. Narasimhan commented. "This meeting was a good example of the CIO Forum bringing provocative information to IT executives where they have a chance to clarify what they are hearing from noted speakers and discuss issues in a relaxed, small group environment. We expect to have many more such luncheons in the future."

Paalam, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is a technology services company that specializes in managing globally distributed technology development teams for its clients. Paalam offers significant savings by providing fixed price contracts, guaranteeing quality and managing software development projects end to end.

The Company asks that any IT executive wishing to attend one of the upcoming, limited-seating CIO Roundtable Forum luncheons simply call the Company at 770-209-9700 or email to receive a schedule of upcoming events.

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