Uber – Airbnb – Teespring: all have the individual in common

March 2nd, 2017

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so the saying goes.

Considering insights from the recent study by Saatchi and Saatchi of the “middle states”, the same might be said also when it comes to innovation. 

In fact, it might be advisable to behold the “I” in innovation.

The Saatchi study reveals that people in rural America see innovation belonging to the province of the people overall, not just large centers such as Silicon Valley.  Consider observations from the study, such as:

  •  “…great innovation and ideas can come from the smallest of places”
  • “Brands can recognize diverse problems at the local level and demonstrate how they provide solutions.”

But geography isn’t the only factor that businesses might consider as they develop potentially disruptive offerings. Some articles, such as Innovation is Generational describe how generations see innovation through different lenses.  The dimensions of individuality have no end.  What does innovation look like through the lens of gender, heritage, hometown, residence, household size and so much more?

…Are these questions new? 

Not at all, really.  What’s new…or at least fairly recent in its emergence…is the interest and ability to create solutions that honor individual preferences AND are scalable.  The innovation process has become one that can offer value to very diverse interests individually, rather than a segment of the bell curve homogenously, and do so quite profitably.

Moreover, technology does not hold a monopoly on disruption action.  The “2016 CNBC Disruptor 50” list spans industries as diverse as technology, travel (both space and earth-based), publishing, genetic testing, food retailing and more.  If there is a common thread to be found, it’s how so many of the “Top 50 Disruptor” companies serve very individual needs and interests.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the list includes Uber and Airbnb, services that put control in the hands of individuals on both the supply and demand sides of the industries they support.  Several other top “Disruptor” companies clearly serve individual preferences, talents and interests:

  • 23andMe provides genetic testing that can provide uniquely individual insights such as “why you like certain foods, are sensitive to particular smells or are a morning person”.
  • Coursera takes personalized higher education to an entirely new level with free access to some of the best courses and teachers on the planet.
  • With Teespring, anyone – and everyone – can be a t-shirt designer.

One thing you can say about Innovation: it DOES have an “I” in it!   Consider solutions, disruptions even, that serve the individual – on a mass scale.  No matter what though, when it comes to innovation processes in your company, let that “I” inspire — really, really big ideas!