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Episode 2 - What Do Edison’s 'Invention Factory' and Exelon’s Drones Have in Common?

Episode 2 June 6, 2019

Thomas Edison wasn’t just an inventor. He created a whole new way to make and sell his inventions—setting the stage for modern corporate innovation. His model influenced a generation of titans: General Electric, Westinghouse, Ford, and the electric utility industry as we know it today.

And then, something shifted.

In the 1970s, executives of large companies turned their attention to “shareholder value.” They valued efficiencies, cost cutting and dividends over invention and innovation. Today, when a startup with a few software engineers can present a competitive threat to a big incumbent in a very short period of time, this presents an existential challenge.

We’ll start this episode with a re-examination of Thomas Edison’s legacy. How did he set the stage for modern corporate innovation?

Then, we’ll talk about the limits of that model. How can corporations shift from the “big to bigger” mindsets into the “new to big” strategies? We’ll talk about how to apply creativity and a venture capital mindset to utilities like Exelon.

Guests featured in this episode:


  • Leonard Degraaf’s book: “Edison and the Rise of Innovation
  • Christina Wallace’s book: “New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth”
  • Bionic case study on Exelon’s drone business

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