Ro Fernandez Nova ToolsRo Fernandez had observed numerous teams and organizations bring their ideas to life as a business consultant. But she found that some companies were struggling with streamlining the process. That’s when she decided to create Nova Tools, an online collaboration tool that helps innovation projects come to life by providing the tools and an optimized process all in one platform. Today the Vancouver, Canada-based entrepreneur counts every team helped a success. 

Fernandez’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

Nova is an online platform to help individuals and teams innovate and manage their ideation process while responding to their markets in a creative, human-centered way, no matter the size of their business. At Nova, we provide an online workspace to bring innovative projects to life. Using established innovation tools, leaders and teams are guided from ideation all the way to product launch. Processes are designed using organizational psychology to empowered teams to solve problems creatively.

I started working on Nova Tools because, during my time as a business consultant, I found that small and medium organizations struggle to find the time and resources to keep up with the market and to develop a process to empower their human capital and ultimately innovate. I found myself repeatedly searching for tools and processes for the teams to collaborate and ideate, and over time I developed my own optimized processes that everyone could use to multiply the effects. Nova started at this point – optimizing what I was already doing. It took me a few years to gather the tools, develop the process, and come up with an online platform for it.

I personally believe that a focus on innovation is the only way to continually succeed in modern business. Businesses are essential for our economy and our culture, so I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. If I could help two companies generate better products and solutions, I will make a small impact in this world. But if through Nova Tools I can help 10,000 organizations to do that every year, I am driving change. And there is nothing more rewarding because when companies can effectively respond to their market, they can be a driving force in the community’s quality of life.

That vision brought me here.

I wanted to not only facilitate a process and the tools to innovate but also to provide a space where everyone is encouraged to collaborate, no matter where your team is. I wanted to make sure every organization could envision their future and focus on what matters: Finding solutions for complex problems and developing cutting edge products that people want. As Picasso said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”  That is right! Ideas do not come from a single ‘aha’ moment, they require time, research, the right atmosphere, a process, collaboration, and the right tools. So that is what we are creating.

I define success based on how the things I do have a positive effect on other people’s lives, when it comes to physical well-being, their relationships with other people, personal development and fulfilment for people inside and outside an organization. To optimize the positive effects of my actions and decision, I am building Nova. My goal is to help organizations innovate, and through this I can have a positive effect on society. By 2020, I want to have 1000 organizations engaged and improving how their team communicates, and evaluates ideas and seeing those ideas succeed in the market. Their success is my success.

I remember the first time I went home extremely excited after working on a project; it wasn’t that the project was done or the product was accepted really well by the customers, it was keeping the team engaged and coming up with solutions for all the barriers we came up against. Empowering people to grow, speak up, and talk about their ideas without fear is my biggest success. And the same for myself. My own personal success is to constantly understand and defeat my fears and be able to find ways to put those fears behind me – so that I can do what I once thought was impossible.

I have three top challenges. First, balancing work and life. It’s hard to be done for the day and to take time for yourself. Sometimes I can feel the weight on my shoulders from working more than 12 hours non-stop, but I can’t seem to find a way to close my computer and stop! Secondly, it’s hard to grow as an entrepreneur and develop new skills you need as business grows. The business is always changing and in constant iteration, so it’s hard to grow with it on an emotional level. And last, I will say that right now that we are just a startup, and with just two people working at Nova, it’s a lonely journey. That is never easy.

My role model is the Animation Studio PIXAR! I think they do a great job working collaboratively and developing movies that engage with people and tell stories creatively but also I think they are probably a good example of how teams can work and collaborate to innovate.


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