Breakthrough Innovations

Introducing Vycle:

Vycle is a human-powered vertical transport system for our expanding cities. It’s a cross between a cycle and an elevator. This enables us to use the concepts of riding a cycle but instead of going forward, we go up. This idea also combines the idea of allowing us to do a little bit of exercise over the course of the day, without having to take time out to exercise from our schedules. There is already a growing body of science that shows that non-intensive and consistent movement through out the day might be much more beneficial than intense workout for 45 mins and limited or no body movement for rest of the day.

vycle – urban vertical movement from Elena Larriba on Vimeo.

Introducing Encore Cistern:

Encore has created a toilet system that uses the water condensed from air-conditioning for flushing toilets. Currently, the condensed water from air conditioning is mostly wasted. This product has the potential to save millions of gallons of water and re-use it as the water for use in the toilets. You can find out how this product works here.

Introducing Koda from Kodasema:

Koda is a movable 150k£ home that can be moved and placed wherever there is an open space. It just requires a space of 30 sq. metres. It doesn’t require a foundation –> so can be moved from one place to a different place using trucks & it can be quickly set up. This could potentially be a great solution for affordable housing, without any compromise in the quality of the home from the inside. On the contrary, it looks and feels very good when we are in the home. You can take a virtual tour of the home here. You can also watch a video that shows how it looks and feels here.

So, what is common in all of these three very diverse products? What is it about these ideas that makes them unique and clearly innovative, with the potential of creating new markets, if executed well.

Multiple Problems addressed by a single solution:

Each one of these ideas combine two or more different challenges and address them together in one single solution. Most creative ideas that go one to become product or categories by themselves have similar applications.

  • Uber solved multiple challenges (hassle free transportation for one set of customers & creating a new income stream for another set of customers) with one solution.
  • AirBnB does the same as well (a different experience, potentially cheaper, better and a more intimate travel experience for the traveller and the ability to make some extra money for home owners).
  • Kickstarter does the same as well (a way for makers to find takers for their products by bye-passing gate-keepers and a platform for early adopters to find and fund cool ideas. Quirky does the same but in a different way.

And if we look at various other category creating products, there is a good likelihood that the product addresses multiple challenges with the single product.

Challenge Conventional Wisdom:

All of them break conventional wisdom in their respective spaces. It takes someone who challenges the conventional wisdom of the air conditioner industry to even think about the water that condenses as a result of air-conditioning and see that as a potential opportunity. Similarly, it takes someone who can challenge the conventional wisdom that cycles are supposed to move forward and back and not up and down. Similarly, it takes someone who can challenge the conventional wisdom that houses need to be built upon a strong foundation and it takes a lot of time to build a house.

In conclusion:

So, when we are looking for potential ideas to develop a product, it would be a good idea to either create constraints around solving multiple challenges at the same time. This forces us to go beyond the usual, boring ideas and allows us to explore truly creative solutions. This also makes it that much more difficult for potential competitors to replicate your solution.

PS: Here is a hilarious video that shows how the birthing of ideas:

Birth of an Idea from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

PS: PS: Here is a great TED Talk by Steven Johnson about “Where good ideas come from

Invisible Problems

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I just finished reading the book – Meaningful, by Bernadette Jiwa. In the book she talks about the importance of “Invisible Problems”and refers to a TED Talk delivered by Tony Fadell. I watched the talk and would recommend that all entrepreneurs should watch the talk, multiple times.Seth Godin introduces him selves as someone who notices things for a living.

If you look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs of this generation, you will notice that all of them started with a problem that all of us faced but did not see it as a potential for value creation:

  • AirBnB saw that there were people who had a need and another set of people who could fulfil the need.
  • FaceBook noticed our need to connect and stay in touch with our friends.
  • Uber noticed the frustration we feel when we are waiting for a taxi.
  • Shoes of Prey noticed the need for custom sized shoes.
  • Sheroes noticed the special needs that women have from a career perspective.
  • GoPro noticed the frustration of not having a camera that was suitable for outdoor, adventure activities.
  • Etsy noticed the frustration of artists who wanted to set shop and sell their goods online.
  • Kickstarter noticed the frustration of inventors and creators in getting funds for their projects.

The list goes on. The only thing that they did was to notice these as problems and set out to address them.

All innovation starts with noticing these invisible problems. Some call them insights.

Once you have noticed a problem that is invisible for most of us, you have an excellent starting point to create something that will resonate with us, without you having to convince us about its value.

These are the products or services that when we come across, makes us feel that they make perfect sense and make us think why no one thought of it earlier.

The question we need to ask is the following:

Is this a learned skill and if yes, how does one go about learning to notice things.

Tony already does share some suggestions on how can we go about learning this skill.

In my opinion, the single most important skill that can help us in this regard is our ability to stay curious.

  • Every time we tell someone that is how it is, we need to stop and think about the situation again. There might be an invisible problem worth solving.
  • Every time we find ourselves complaining about things, we need to stop and explore it a bit more.
  • Every time we hear some one utter the words, “this is so frustrating”, we need to stop and explore.
  • Every time we hear our child ask a question and don’t know the answer, we need to stop and explore.

It is much easier to push things downstream rather than push it upstream. Identifying and solving an invisible problem is like pushing a product or service downstream. Its easier, faster and gains momentum quickly, which is of course assuming that we have done a good job in identifying the problem well and the solution is easier, faster and simple to use.

There are other things that you can implement into the solution for spreading the idea faster.

However, the fact remains that if we get good at this, our ability to come up with great products/services increases multi-fold.

So, what invisible problem have you noticed recently?

You can watch the entire TED Talk by Tony Fadell below:

 

 

 

PBTO30: Digital Marketing strategies for Startups with Anshul Sushil – Founder & CEO: Boring Brands

Anshul Sushil, Boring Brands

In today’s podcast episode, we host Anshul Sushil who is a co-founder of a Gurgaon based startup marketing company called Boring Brands.

In this free wheeling conversation, Anshul talks about:

  • His journey and experiences in the startup world.
  • He also shares how Boring Brands came into being
  • Hottest startup in the market
  • Challenges that startup face in today’s market
  • Leadership mantra
  • Importance of Marketing and public relations/ Perception Management for Startups
  • Marketing strategies of the future used by startups.
  • Tools Start up Should use
  • One key advice for all startups

This is a great episode where Anshul shares some very interesting insights on PR and digital marketing strategies for startups from which we can all learn.

If you are a start up founder and would like to connect with Anshul, you can reach out to him on twitter at @_Anshul and his company at @BoringBrands.