In early 2011 Shane Bradley was running auction site Sella and had ambitions of taking on TradeMe. One morning Shane bursts in and announces they are going to start building something new. Four weeks later GrabOne was launched and the rest is history. GrabOne has gone onto to become one of NZ’s largest online retailers with annual sales north of $100 million and Shane banked a tidy sum when he sold the remainder of GrabOne to NZME just 3 years after starting it.
What made Shane change tack so quickly? He saw the massive success and growth of Groupon and Livingsocial in North America and Europe. The business model was proven so he exported the idea and unsurprisingly it worked.
In the startup and marketing world there is a huge focus on originality and creativity. Zany ideas are a dime a dozen but the reality is very few of these go on to become successful businesses. The geographical isolation and small market size of NZ is often touted as disadvantage. But if you are looking to pivot an existing business or start a new one; the rapid pace of innovation that is happening globally is a wonderful test bed for business models.
To some the ethics of ‘stealing’ a business idea are questionable. In 1996 Steve Job’s said “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” Given that the origins of many of Apple’s products came from Xerox and IBM they have delivered on this position.
My opinion is that copying and learning are very different things. Copying something directly is infringing on their rights and often a bad business decision as competition generally competes away profit. But learning from other business models and approaches is just smart.
The world is being disrupted one business model at a time and for some corporates starting new services to compete with themselves will be essential to their future survival.
Here’s four trends and startups you can take ‘inspiration’ from:
The recent success of My Food Bag in NZ has been well documented. The appetite for consumers to packages regularly delivered to them has been proven and the opportunity to capture niches is here. In overseas markets theres monthly boxes for Fitness, Dogs, Kids, Tea Lovers and the Environmentally Conscious. We have seen a few of these ideas pop up in NZ but there’s still plenty of niches to explore.
Professional Services Platforms
Hiring professionals for your HR, legal and financial need can be incredibly expensive. Sometimes minor tasks end up costing large summs. In the legal services market companies like LegalZoom and RocketLawyer have built successful businesses by offering access to a library of documents and ‘lawyer on demand’ services. This has lowered the cost and appealing to a much larger base. What knowledge and access can you package to appeal to a new customer base?
If you live in San Francisco, the hub of tech innovation and optimism, the number of on demand services is staggering. Being ‘the Uber of..” has become cliche but consumers are demanding access to products and services and expect them NOW. Need a cleaner? Fuel? Food? There’s an app for that.
For businesses here the opportunity to offer access to their product faster/cheaper/easier has never been better.
All you can eat plans are often the norm in digital services like music and movies. This is now being extended to industries like concerts and flights. The unit economics don’t suit a number of industries but an unlimited plan in your industry could put you head and shoulders above the competition.
Innovation is the current buzzword in corporate New Zealand but no matter the size of your business kicking over other people’s rocks could unearth some gold nuggets.