The Invention Cycle: How Imagination Leads to Entrepreneurship


Program Highlights
  • The right mindset for the massively difficult task of bringing a breakthrough idea into the world.
  • How trying a PREtotype before testing a PROtotype saves you time and money
  • Why framing the problem needs more attention than finding one right solution.

Imagination envisions things that don’t exist. Creativity applies imagination to solve problems. Innovation uses creativity to come up with unique solutions. Entrepreneurship brings innovation to the world.

Dr. Seelig describes this framework as the “Invention Cycle.” She details the attitudes and actions required for generating and maintaining this cycle as a self-perpetuating loop—increasing your success every step of the way. Anyone can have ideas, but it takes unique skills to launch something truly new into the world.

You have to start with paying attention. Engage with the world and envision what might be different. Find your motivations and do early, tiny experiments. Pick the right metrics so you know what success looks like. Then focus and reframe, because asking the right question leads to more and better answers. And finally, persist and inspire, because scaling takes hard work blended with storytelling to convince a critical mass of others to share your vision.


Tina Seelig is the Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. She has written 16 popular science books and educational games. Her recent book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, delivers specific tools that enhance creativity in individuals and organizations. Dr. Seelig earned her PhD from the Stanford University Medical School, where she studied Neuroscience.

The Invention Cycle: How Imagination Leads to Entrepreneurship

Tina Seelig

Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program


50 Minutes