The power of innovation


In the past two decades, startups with innovative ideas and daring business models have perceptually reformed industries. Almost every successful startup in recent years which had its valuation crossed $1 billion had innovation in the core of its business model. Uber disrupted a century old taxi industry, which had seen little reform for the past 70 years, by bringing advanced mobile application, robust GPS technology and using Google maps. It was an innovative idea to use the mobile app as a hailing signal and having the cab to doorsteps for pickup which promoted customer satisfaction and spared them from getting an overpriced, sluggish and inconvenient service which seemed to be unavailable when needed the most. Starting as a small company offering black luxury car service to only high-end users, Uber achieved a valuation over $70 billion in just nine years of its entrepreneurial journey and is operating in over 650 cities worldwide in 81 countries with more than 50 million user base.


The first step towards being innovative for every entrepreneur is to eliminate self-doubt and believe in his/her creativity because it’s the creative ideas which will lead to innovation and subsequently a unique business model to thrive. Apple, Microsoft, mobile phones, SpaceX, Tesla and Facebook etc. were all ideas at some point of time; however, it was not just one idea that helped the owners/founders to survive but their willingness to engage in the concept and work on it to implement it on the ground. They believed in their innovative idea and kept pursuing their goal even if challenges occur. 


The first rocket (Falcon 1) tested by SpaceX in 2006 exploded 33 seconds after its launch and the second one too in 2007 shut down before reaching the orbit and blew. The third rocket was also a failure as it spun out of its orbit in the space which nearly caused the company to shut down. Elon Musk had just enough money to launch one more rocket; however, as he believed in his vision, he decided to put the money. On 28th September 2008, the 4th Falcon 1 Rocket was successfully launched and completed its orbit of the Earth becoming the first privately funded and developed liquid fuel rocket to do so. The rocket was 20 times cheaper than that used by NASA. In December 2008, SpaceX gained a contract from NASA worth $1.6 billion to transport cargo to the international space station.


A research study conducted at Harvard University indicated that only one-third of our capability to think creatively is related to genetics. Rest of the two-thirds of the innovative skill is acquired through learning, practising and experimenting. A successful entrepreneur undergoes the same process utilising the combination of listening, observing, ideating and then testing to bring forth his/her ideas.


Elon Musk, the founder of Space X, has a dream to provide a space trip to Mars and eventually colonise Mars as preparation if any environmental crisis occurs on Earth. Space X, working on multiple innovative ideas, in 2011 publicly announced Reusable Launch System Development Program which would involve developing such launch vehicles which could be reused and instead of crashing them into water bodies, they would be landed safely on land. After a few failed attempts, SpaceX achieved a successful landing and recovery of a first stage in December 2015. It will make a space trip to Mars cheaper than it is expected. In March 2017, SpaceX used the same rocket and landed it correctly on a small vessel in the middle of the ocean. As NASA plans to use the same technology, it would save a lot of taxpayers’ money in forthcoming space projects.


One thing is clear going through success stories of billionaire entrepreneurs that mostly, innovators do not get the desired result on the first attempt; however, they learn from their mistakes until their product is widely received. Instagram founder, Kevin Systrom, initially made a geo-location app which enjoyed little market success. He quickly realised the importance to adapt to meet customer’s preferences at which point he took a different path and built a social media app which uses photographs and videos to connect.


Sometimes, an innovative approach is required to sell the product better through unique marketing strategy. Coca-cola, invented by a pharmacist, John Pemberton, was developed as a medicine to treat morphine addiction, indigestion and headaches which failed in the market. When Asa Candler, a businessman, bought the company, he used different marketing tactics presenting Coca-Cola as a beverage and not a medicinal product. He also modified the original product which had 9 mg of cocaine per glass to the one having trace levels of cocaine extract. The company started making significant profits by the end of 19th century and became the dominant force in beverage industry by the end of the first decade of 20th century.


One needs to be creatively intelligent to invent a new approach to manufacture a product or market the same product differently for better results. And it’s not something that people are born with. One needs to be constantly aware of the global problems and take into consideration to how the production of waste can be minimised. One of the most significant tools to start thinking about an innovative product is the market research using predictive and meaningful data analysis so that consumer patterns, their needs and their grievances or other issues can be explored. Keeping an eye on what kind of developments are happening globally and what type of business models are thriving, you can come up with a novel solution that meets the requirements of your targeted consumers in the research you conducted. Be prepared for multiple failures. Few of the options will flop entirely; whereas others might require improvement. Innovation is a perpetual learning process and teaching the culture of change into your company is so much more than just believing in it or thinking about a novel idea.