1440 Begins: John Ingram on Balance, Change, & Opportunity

Seven book tech startups have been selected from around the world to go through 1440, a publishing-centric accelerator consisting of a high intensity 14-week business-building program. The accelerator groups started this week and are fast tracking through curriculum, community and connections to turn their innovative ideas into reality.

This podcast interview with John Ingram, CEO & Chairman of Ingram Content Group, is designed to provide an insight into this accelerator and Ingram Content Group’s approach to innovation. Be sure to be subscribe to our EC podcast in iTunes and/or to our newsletter to be notified of the next 1440 related podcast.

Listen to the full interview above, or get a few highlights below:

John Ingram started with Ingram Content Group in 1986 before Ingram Lightning Group merged with Ingram Digital Group. Ingram Content Group today is a publishing industry leader dedicated to partnering with publishers, retailers, educators, and libraries to make the world’s books accessible to everyone. The company is present in 12 cities in the United States, with 3 locations in Europe and Australia as well. John Ingram shared how they maintain an enterprise while also retaining an entrepreneurial spirit. "For us, it’s a question of balance,” Ingram said. Finding that balance is an ever-evolving process, though, and it’s something that Ingram Content Group is constantly aware of.

“Today's balance may not quite be right for tomorrow,” Ingram said. (22:00)

Paul Mikos, 1 of 24 speakers in week one of 1440, shares his experience in the publishing industry.

Paul Mikos, 1 of 24 speakers in week one of 1440, shares his experience in the publishing industry.


On Innovation

Ingram knows very well about the power of change in the publishing industry because of the immense changes that have occurred in last 2 decades. “Over that 20 year period, our gross profit grew 50%, but 60% of the total gross profit today comes from things that didn’t exist 20 years ago. Our business today, we do a lot of the same things, but the drivers of it are things that we’ve created over that period of time,” Ingram said. (9:10)

Ingram Content Group invests in 5 to 6 publishing ventures per year-- from publishing technology to educational innovation-- and each brings something new to the table. According to Ingram, it’s modern ideas like these that bring in the most profit, and it’s important to get people involved through programs like 1440.

“The single most important thing is access to really talented creative people. That’s the most important thing, because whatever it is that people are working on in the accelerator, chances are whatever they start won’t be what they’ll come out with and will probably change multiple times after that,” said Ingram. (15:10)

“I’m hoping to be able discover some really talented people who are really passionate about this industry, and that we can help direct them, over time, into areas that we view are really important to our business.”
Matt West, Publishing Industry Lead at the EC, workshops our newest 1440 accelerator entrepreneurs.

Matt West, Publishing Industry Lead at the EC, workshops our newest 1440 accelerator entrepreneurs.

On Enterprise

“I get that change has a lot of negative connotations to it, and it’s what people-- as humans, our first reaction is ‘Oh my God, change.’ That’s bad for me. But there’s a whole other side to change, and that’s opportunity,” Ingram said. (4:10)

By taking advantage of opportunity, taking chances and being observant, Ingram said he has been able to minimize the things that don’t work in his enterprise. He also keeps a backlog of things to do within ICG-- maybe only accomplishing one or two a year-- in order to keep his productivity focused on the opportunities ahead of him.

“In my opinion, the best way to predict the future is to try to create it yourself and not have it imposed on you by somebody else,” Ingram said. (6:08)

The 1440 teams

For more information on John Ingram and Ingram Content Group, listen to the full interview audio above, visit ICG online at IngramConent.com or check out the 1440 accelerator here at the Entrepreneur Center in Nashville, TN.

The 1440 Accelerator, named for the year Johannes Gutenberg perfected his printing press technology, began Jan. 31 and ends May 9, 2016. The 1440 Accelerator participants are:

  • Authorpad Publishing, led by McWhilton Chikwenengere, Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe

  • Authorship.me, led by Roberto Machado de Campos, Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • Freenters, led by Rho Kook Song, Chicago, Ill.

  • Leafless, led by Richard Billings, Memphis, Tenn.

  • PiracyTrace, led by Scott La Counte, Anaheim, Calif.

  • PublishSoSimply, led by Michal Majewski, Poznan, Poland

  • Woodpie, led by Anuradha Bajpai, Bangalore, India.

Photos by Walker Leigh