Where has all the Innovation gone?

By Vibhuti Channa- Director, Viridian Ventures

As one closely looks at the range of work that is happening in the entrepreneurial space, a reasonably common string that one observes is the desire to agglomerate services or convert them into a convenience. For instance, housekeeping services or laundry facilities being provided at the doorstep. There is clearly a need for some of this and perhaps, a market exists for it; but the question is, how many providers/aggregators can this market absorb?

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Surely in a nation as large as ours and with all the intellectual capital we have, there is great potential to come up with innovative business ideas. When I say “innovation” I’m not necessarily suggesting strictly scientifically-driven new to world ideas. It could just be a new way of doing things which are more efficient or simpler to do. There are some people who chose to utilize used soft drink PET bottles filled with sand, as a replacement for bricks and built houses in rural areas which were stronger and better than the existing options. Over a period of time, housing as an area has been using techniques that innovatively utilize locally accessible material to provide options that are weather friendly, durable and cost effective. Likewise, there are examples in other areas as well – bamboo fiber-based textile material.

I find greater strength in these ideas for various reasons. Firstly, you are doing something that is different from what the rest are doing. It gives you a headstart and if done properly it is a sustainable option for a business that is based on a strong foundation. In areas of aggregation or likewise, it is easily replicable and you need to keep at it, as it is much harder to maintain the differentiation. Equally the business margins would be quite light as you are only adding the convenience element. Rest of it is being mopped up by the service provider. Depending on the nature of innovation in your business, a steady stream of income can also accrue by monetizing the patent rights to the business.
So look around – take a hard think and see what you want to jump into before doing another potential “me too” business.

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