We innovate to solve a problem in a better way in a way that it is lucrative for your customer to change their habits & start using your product
Without innovation, it is hard to distinguish yourself once you launch a product due to lack of incentive.
Common belief is that a product need to be 10x better than the existing alternative. Now this 10X term is somewhat exaggeration but to explain how better a product should be, because it is very hard to quantify alternative solutions. There should be a difference of day & night and compel the user to say Waoo.
Innovation & selling go together, however, the order in which they come differentiate if it’s a research or startup.
In Startup, you sell first by finding the problem & then innovative on how to solve the problem efficiently. Risk in this approach is that, you might not be able to innovate an efficient way.
In Research, you innovate first because you think there is a better way to do something, and then try to find the customers who have the problem. Here the risk is if it is a commercially viable product or not.
Now it is up to an individual to choose what is the biggest risk for him, fail to innovate after discovering the problem or fail to sell after innovating!
I will choose innovation risk over selling risk unless I innovate on how to manufacture water based engine.