Although it may not be the right route for every company, disruptive innovation is undoubtedly fascinating to explore.
Headline-grabbing companies like Uber and Airbnb are rapidly changing the face of the world we live in. These innovators remind us how far creativity can take us in a world where technology is accessible and ubiquitous; it’s an exciting time to be in business.
The headlines, however, have left people feeling largely ambivalent about the role of disruptive innovation in our lives, and the rapid pace of change can leave some feeling insecure about their futures in industry.
But, though it might be painful, disruption is a natural part of progress and we’re here to celebrate it.
That’s why we’re taking a closer look at some of our favourite innovative companies.
Let’s take a look!
University Health Network
In 2021, the world’s first purpose-built drone transported a pair of lungs between two hospitals in Toronto, Canada. A team led by Shaf Keshavjee, the director at University Health Network, organised the flight that could revolutionise the organ supply chain.
Given the nature of the cargo, the venture was extensively tested to ensure its success. The team responsible flew 53 test flights to be sure of an uninterrupted flight path and to develop contingencies for emergency scenarios.
Although this maiden flight was successful, obstacles remain for its wide-scale implementation. The routing of drones will become increasingly more complex as the number of flights grows and the flight durations increase.
Despite these challenges, this is an incredibly exciting advancement in the organ supply chain. Researchers envision a future where organs are transported from extraction sites to organ repair centres, and finally to the point of final transplantation exclusively using drones.
Key takeaway – test and iterate
Innovation should not be conflated with speed of implementation. Make sure to take the time to test your ideas early on and iterate according to input, feedback and data.
The United Nations projects that by 2050 the global population will increase to 10 billion. The well-documented negative environmental impact of traditional agriculture will only grow along with the population if alternatives are not made available. Air Protein, a food tech company, is on a mission to combat this challenge with its meat substitute made from the air around us.
Air Protein uses carbon dioxide to feed microorganisms, which then produce a nutrient-rich protein source that can be made into a meat alternative. The technology behind the “air meat” is inspired by NASA research from the 1960s, which explored methods of feeding astronauts on long space voyages.
Air Protein’s novel solution has the potential to minimise traditional agriculture’s deforestation, water consumption, methane emissions, and even moral quandaries, in a sustainable and innovative way.
Key takeaway – just because it’s the way it’s always been done doesn’t mean it’s the only way
Air Protein shows perfectly how organisations that see beyond the present can create the future. Don’t be constrained by convention, embrace the opportunity to break industries.
If you’ve ever seen a swaggering millennial waving a bright pink debit card at the London Underground ticket turnstiles and thought “that’s an interesting colour” then you’ve succumbed to Monzo’s incredible brand marketing strategy.
Consumers have felt underserved by the banking industry for decades. Confusing rules, strange fees and charges, and the endlessly frustrating customer service systems employed by leading banks left a gap in the market that was ripe for disruption. Monzo’s super-simple, app-based banking system and total disregard for traditional banking approaches have inspired more than 1,000,000 users to jump on board.
Key takeaway – know your target market
Monzo is a shining example of how a deep understanding of what your customer does and does not want can inspire totally new market approaches. Make sure you spend a great deal of time getting to know your target market.
Enterprise-level email marketing solutions can be expensive, unwieldy things. This is especially problematic given that most users don’t ever touch on the vast majority of their capabilities. They waste time and money getting functions they’ll never use effectively. Mailchimp understood this problem intimately and decided it was time for change.
As a lightweight, in-browser email marketing solution, Mailchimp has made so many people’s working lives that much easier. It took the long waits and complicated systems out of CRM for those who simply wanted to “send an email real quick”. The company is still 100% founder-owned and continues to roll out useful, down-to-earth products that are easy to use.
Key takeaway – quality over quantity
Mailchimp is a perfect example of the power of stripping your product back. Look carefully at your product or service and think about where the value for your consumers really is.
Using independent, sustainable energy generators, Bulb delivers 100% renewable energy solutions to customers in an industry dominated by dubious practices and questionable ethical standards. It recently became the UK’s most trusted energy supplier as rated on Trustpilot – great news for the planet, bad news for outdated fossil fuel suppliers.
Key takeaway – strong vision is key
We love Bulb’s forward-thinking approach and ethics. Remember that your organisation has a wider part to play in our society at large. Make sure you have a strong vision of how you want to help create a brighter future.
The wit and honesty delivered by the marketing folks over at BrewDog have won over the hearts of hundreds of thousands of beer drinkers just when the industry was starting to taste particularly stale. Perhaps even more refreshing than the beer is their fiercely ethical stance on contemporary issues. Just recently, BrewDog cancelled a partnership with a US firm after it discovered the company was giving out free beers to Donald Trump supporters. This apparent honesty is disruptive in itself, and the brand has built a loyal fan base in an industry people had lost faith in.
Key takeaway – prioritise customer experience
By learning about BrewDog, we discovered how integrity itself can be innovative and disruptive. Beer drinkers have been yearning for a “real” experience for decades and the company took advantage of that need. Sometimes market opportunities are more about customer experiences than simple products.
It takes a lot of guts to release a disruptive product and attempt to take on industry giants. Totally redefining one of the world’s oldest products from the bottom up, however, is next-level audacity.
Beyond Meat is working to change the very definition of our foods with its 100% plant-based meat products, hoping to reverse some of the devastation caused by the existing meat industry. There are a lot of powerful people out there who don’t like the idea of a cheaper, healthier, more sustainable and more ethical form of meat. However, demand for Beyond’s products is skyrocketing and the company has tripled its output this year alone. And with that, it’s pushing the boundaries of what it means to be an innovative company.
Key takeaway – don’t be afraid to rethink your industry
Technology today is evolving at break-neck speed, and we all need to keep on top of these changes to survive. Question whether what you’re doing right now is truly in the interest of consumers and whether there might be a better way.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about these fantastic innovators. And if you’d like to learn more about innovation, read our blog post: ‘Different Types Of Innovation: Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All’.