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Author sees Utah as top innovator

He says the state can keep spawning billion-dollar firms

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LEHI — The Beehive State has the growth and the key industries to put top businesses on track to earning $1 billion in revenues annually, David G. Thomson, author of the recent book "Blueprint to a Billion," said Thursday.

"You are one of the top states for producing billion-dollar companies. You can do this," he said.

Thomson identified industries on the way to achieving billion-dollar revenues as biotech, software and service, and semiconductor companies.

The United States is in a race with China and India for innovative leadership.

"Utah is in a key position to lead the nation (in innovation)," he said.

Addressing the Utah Technology Council, MountainWest Capital Network and the Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum in their annual combined luncheon at Thanksgiving Point, Thomson outlined the seven qualifications to achieve phenomenon growth he discovered while researching his book.

Create and sustain value. "The 'Big Idea' is what creates value," he said. That main idea can transform the market in as many as three ways: creating a new market, as did eBay; redefining the market, as did Nike and Starbucks; or becoming a "category killer," as did Staples and Best Buy in the retail industry.

Exploit the high-growth segment. Companies that can do this are mature, rather than new or startup companies, he said. Often they partner with suppliers to reduce the cost of product delivery.

Gain a "marquee" customer, which he described as a big name customer that will bring in other customers.

Create big brother alliances. EBay did that when it aligned with AOL to create a market for used goods over the Internet. "It's a win-win asymmetrical relationship," Thomson said.

Become the master of exponential returns. The best example is high-value software companies, because they have sustained a 55 percent annual growth pattern, he said. They constantly deliver positive cash flow. "Cash is king," he said.

Create "dynamic duo" leadership. Examples include Bill Gates and Jon Shirley of Microsoft. Thomson called Gates an "outside leader," while Shirley assumed the role of "inside leader," he said. Such duos can make decisions quickly to move a company ahead, Thomson said.

Name a "blueprint" board of directors. Best combinations include a marquee customer, a strategic alliance member, a community member, an investor, two from management and two from what Thomson termed only as "other."

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com