Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide

Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide

What Do You Get an Innovator Or Entrepreneur That Has Everything?

Today’s innovator is curious, adaptable, always learning, and a bit of a rebel. With that in mind, here’s an Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide, that goes beyond your typical recommendations of Moleskin Journals, Sharpies, Magnetic Post-It Notes, or the latest innovation best sellers to warm your innovator’s heart this holiday season.


First, let’s start with the software in our Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide, to help your innovator test, experiment, collaborate, and accelerate his/her learnings.

Strategyzer – Strategyzer’s software is the official web-app from the makers of Business Model Generation & Value Proposition Design. For an annual subscription of $300 the software allows you to rapidly sketch and analyze Business Models to design, test, and share Business Models & Value Propositions in real-time.

GLIDR – Use GLIDR’s software to help you validate that you’re going to market with products and business models that drive real value. Share ideas, generate assumptions, prioritize risks and opportunities, plan research, run tests, and track progress as experiments move through the GLIDR version of Build-Measure-Learn. (Inside Outside Podcast listeners get 25% off their first 3 months for their entire team by entering the code “iopodcast” on the billing page).

MURAL – MURAL is a great way for collaborative teams to visually work together. It also comes in handy as a tool for facilitating remote workshops as well. Cost is $12 per member, per month.

More Software

Focus@Will – Sometimes innovators need heads-down focus time. Focus@Will is a subscription music service that brings you scientifically optimized music to help you focus. Here’s how it works. “Scientists have discovered that depending on your personality type, there is a specific type of “music” that when engineered just right, puts your brain into a “flow state” making you hyper-focused and exponentially more productive. We’ll ask you a few questions. Determine the perfect music for you. And give you the scientifically engineered music channel that has been proven to 4x your focus and optimizes your productivity. You’ll still have access to over 50 other channels but you’ll know exactly what channels create the best focus for your unique personality.”

FullContact – Innovators need a network of contacts and a way to keep them up to date. FullContact helps keep contacts organized, synchronized, and safe using publicly available data— including, photos, jobs, and social profiles. It also allows you to quickly capture business cards and de-dups your existing ones.

Bubble – Bubble lets you build apps without code, visually. Need to create an MVP, test a user feature, or develop a working prototype? Bubble lets you avoid the IT/developer bottleneck too.

Airtable – Airtable is part spreadsheet, part database, and all kinds of flexible goodness allowing you to organize anything, with anyone, from anywhere. Perfect for embeddable forms, product launch planning, experiment tracking, or competitive tracking. Here’s a referral link to get you started.

Research & Insights

Every innovator wants to be exposed to the latest trends, insights, and lines of thought of smart, interesting people. Here are a few experts and learning communities in our Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide to share with your favorite innovator.

The Exponential ViewAzeem Azhar’s wondermissive on technology, business & society is a free newsletter, and a must read to keep up with technology and society trends. Couple this with his new Exponential View podcast and you have a can’t miss resource. Listen to Episode 107 of the Inside Outside Innovation podcast for my interview with Azeem, and you’ll see what I mean.

Farnam Street – Farnam Street is a free newsletter run by Shane Parrish that “address such topics as mental models, decision making, learning, reading, and the art of living.” There’s a free newsletter, but the real value lies in Farnam Street’s private learning community. Where you get access to unique content and discussions with a community of movers and shakers. Here’s a link for the $149 gift membership.

Buried Reads – Buried Reads is a new newsletter curated and written by Mattermark founders Danielle and Kevin Morrill. Their old Mattermark newsletters was a must read for many years, and I expect Buried Reads to be the same. There are actually two newsletters, one focused on “Startups and Venture Capital” and one on “Software Engineering.”

More Research & Insights

CB Insights – Let’s be frank, most people won’t be able to gift a $100k annual subscription to CB Insights’ tech market intelligence platform that analyzes millions of data points on venture capital, startups, patents, partnerships, and news mentions, but there is a free newsletter worth grabbing. It’s a fantastic resource for innovators and entrepreneurs interested in staying abreast of the latest news, trends, and data changing the world of startups and venture capital.

Texture – Great innovators tend to read from a wide swath of sources. Texture can help. It is an iPad and Android app that brings over 200 magazines to you for only $9.99 a month. Get your magazines unbound and unlimited.


Bonus Picks – Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide

Modern Shed – This one’s not for everyone, but worth a look. For the innovator or entrepreneur looking for a place to get away from the standard home or office, look no further than these pre-fab beauties. It’s a great way to create a learning sanctuary, prototype lab, or an office away from the crowd.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – I had to include this one on the list. If you’re tired of being trapped in a laptop world, the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil give you a seamless way to sketch, take notes, brainstorm, and think differently about how you interact with technology.

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Need More Innovation Insights?

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You can also search every Inside Outside Innovation Podcast by Topic and Company.

For more innovations resources, check out IO’s Innovation Article Database, Innovation Tools Database, Innovation Book Database, and Innovation Video Database.

What did I miss in the Innovator’s Dilemma Gift Guide? Connect with me! (Brian Ardinger)

Brian Ardinger is Director of Innovation at Nelnet and the founder of, makers of the weekly Inside Outside Innovation podcast, events, and community. For over 25 years, Brian has been helping entrepreneurs and enterprises navigate and compete in a world of change and disruption. He was the founder of NMotion (a seed-stage startup accelerator). CMO at Nanonation. Head of research at Ion Global (a Hong Kong-headquartered technology firm). And senior consultant for Gartner in Asia. @ardinger

This article contains affiliate links that may earn Inside Outside a small fee on purchases originating from them.  They do not influence editorial decisions to include mention of any products or services in this article. 

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Innovator's Gift Guide - Inside Outside Innovation


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