The recession is a perfect time to launch a new business or new product, especially what I call Category Killer Innovation, or what Clayton Christenson calls a "Disruptive Technology." The Category Killer Opportunity window is not a single opportunity space or event but a cluster of smaller fortuitous opportunities that bundle together (such as the design enhancement opportunity, a production challenge opportunity, the value chain opportunity, the supply chain challenge opportunity window and many others) to form a "super opportunity space" or in this case a Category Killer Innovation Opportunity Window. If history is any indication, we will see a flood of distruptive technology hitting the market between now and 2014.
A good example is the Starbury sneaker, who went up against the big boys-NIKE, Adidas, Puma and New Balance to produce a $14.95 runner that is as good as the $149-$300 equivalent basketball shoe, but at an order of magnitude price drop. It will be interesting to see how low cost Starbury Sneakers fare against NIKE in a recession
According to Wikipedia:
"Starbury, Inc. is an American brand of sneakers and clothing endorsed by NBA players Stephon Marbury and Ben Wallace, and marketed by Steve and Barry's. The line was launched in September 2006, as a pair of $14.99 basketball shoes to compete with higher priced products endorsed by celebrity athletes. Stephon Marbury and retail clothing chain Steve & Barry's claim that the products are of the same level of quality as more expensive alternatives."
Now India is about to unveil tomorrow a prototype of a $10 laptop (which actually costs $20 to produce.) It will be subsidized by the Indian Education Ministry, so that eventually every school child in India will be able to afford a laptop and access to the Internet. This is a counter-offer to the MIT Negroponte project which was proposing a $100 laptop per child for India, but the Indian government thought that they could do one better. The $10 laptop will come with WiFi, 2GB of memory, Ethernet and expandable memory capability and consumer just 2 watts of power. There are still many unanswered questions, such as can they find the supply chain to manufacture the laptop at that low cost and many others. How will they protect themselves from reverse engineering and IP theft and the grey market?
But it proves the point that every incumbent CEO, Manager and entrepreneur should be always looking behind their back for the next Category Killer Innovation to sneak up on them
Walter Derzko, Smart Economy, Toronto
Author of the soon-to-be-released book: Hard Times Golden Opportunities.. about opportunity recognition in a recession/ depression featuring 45 opportunity scenarios.
Other Opportunity Clinic posts in this series:
Realted posts over that past year: