“How do I find my next business prospect, you ask? Oh, all I need to do is talk to people in my network.”

Now, substitute prospect with innovation, investment, distributor, customer, or strategic partner.

Person smirking
Person smirking
I’ve got this. Giphy

Last time, I explained why, from a social science perspective, it’s so hard to venture out of your bubble. Imagine how many unexpected discoveries don’t happen because of this!

Today, I’ll share with you some awesome cases of high-impact innovation across borders from vacuums to Toy Story and nuclear-powered rockets.

Case 1: Vacuums + Sawmills = Dyson

What started out as a personal struggle with the “best-in-class” vacuum James Dyson bought in 1979, turned into a 12,000 person company with $1.4 billion in revenue in 2018. The vacuum James bought didn’t suck up dirt (pretty bad, considering the only other purpose is a paperweight). Being an innovator and designer at heart, James got inspired by … wait for it… a sawmill that used a cyclone of air to separate particles out of the air. Dozens of prototypes and several loans later, James finally got his Dyson vacuum out into the market and beat out his competition, with a superior, sawmill-inspired gadget. But he didn’t stop there. Dyson has also developed novel hand dryers (yea, like this in public restrooms), blade-less fans and heaters, sleek hairdryers, and more recently, ventilators. …

As we sit indoors, we continue staying up-to-date about what’s going on in our respective industries, tracking competition and prospective customers. Maybe you attend a webinar (or a dozen), put hours into digging up information about companies that interest you, and every morning, read through your Google News alters. You then organize this information in an Excel doc, CRM or your mental map.

With all this hard work, why is it that some of the most exciting connections you make with other people come out of random encounters at the airport (or nowadays, web-forums)? …


Katia Paramonova

Founder of Centrly | www.centrly.com | MIT (BS, Nuclear) & EPFL (MS, Energy Mgmt) Alum | Systematizing collaboration to accelerate progress

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