A New Perspective on Innovation

innovation

By YeeLing Chang

Focusing on the product and community is the route to innovation success

We see a ton of coverage these days about tech startups, often neglecting to discuss other new businesses that have been established in recent years. These businesses may not be selling a product or service with groundbreaking technology that changes our lives, but they impact us in subtle and meaningful ways. I can think of three companies here that encompass these values.

A friendly match

There’s nothing new about headhunting, but Taipei-based R&S Careers, co-founded by Sabina Huang, is offering a human-centric approach. Going beyond matching, the company helps job seekers by organizing monthly workshops around upskilling, conducting mock interviews, reviewing their resumes, and hosting networking events. 

Positioning and personal branding is certainly something that Huang understands based on her experience at AKAD Group, an MBA consulting firm. Like top-tier universities, employers look for highly-mobile and adaptable talents. 

One can argue that headhunting can potentially be automated, as we have seen on platforms such as LinkedIn Jobs. But the human touch is more effective in identifying suitable talent and developing a deep understanding of individual industries and company cultures. 

Going back to brick and mortar 

From the days of streetside stalls to Amazon Prime, we have been obsessed with shopping for millennia. Although ecommerce has put countless retail giants out of business, more and more small business owners are taking back the brick and mortar model and making it their own. 

A personal favorite of mine is Perk by Kate, a feminine lingerie brand that uses comfortable fabrics. Founded in Singapore in 2012, it started as an online business, but the company moved into a beautiful shophouse unit last year. 

As much as shopping online provides a variety of benefits to both the customer and operator, for founder Kate Low, a physical store means having more opportunities for interaction with her customers. In doing so, she’s able to form long-term relationships with her customers and journey through life with them. For instance, if a new mother needs nursing lingerie, but is unable to find time for a fitting, the store will send items to her home, and the customer can keep what fits.

The retailer-customer relationship is reciprocal, as the benefits of being able to see, feel, and try on the products have led to higher sales conversions. 

New region, new produce

Harrow & Hope, based in Marlow, England, planted their first vines in 2010. Its first commercial harvest was in 2013, which was released for sale in 2016. Founders Henry Laithwaite and his wife Kaye started the venture when it became clear that climate change was making England a suitable place for producing sparkling wines. With the same chalky soil as Champagne, England now has the same climate as the region did 100 years ago. 

Given the increasing temperatures, the grapes can now ripen within a suitable time frame. The co-founders recognized that the greatest asset a winery has is soil, so Harrow & Hope steers clear of herbicides and only uses organic nutrition. He believes the vines should be healthy and balanced to produce the best flavors. 

These three companies use tech tools to run their business and understand their target audience, but what sets them apart is having an intimate, human understanding of their customers. They may reside in traditional industries, but their value rests in other elements: education, empowerment, and sustainability. 

About the Author

YeeLing is Content Director at CAREhER, the only bilingual platform that takes a comprehensive approach to personal and professional development for women. CAREhER offers personal branding and coaching, and resources for learning, such as interviews with successful women. She is also an entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience in the F&B industry.

careher.net

Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash

This story was originally published in Jumpstart Issue 29: Back to Basics as A Different Type of Innovation.

SHARE THIS STORY

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

RELATED POSTS

How Does a Startup Become a Unicorn

How Does a Startup Become a Unicorn

In the startup world, a unicorn refers to any startup with a valuation of over US$1 billion. Companies like Airbnb and Netflix fall under the unicorn category. As of 2021, there are 650 unicorns in the world with a cumulative valuation of US$2,173 billion.

Meet the Young Woman Who Saved Kenya’s Plastic Waste Problem

Meet the Young Woman Who Saved Kenya’s Plastic Waste Problem

Kenya has a huge plastic waste problem. A 2015 report found that the Kenyan capital Nairobi produced around 400 tons of plastic waste every day. Yet, less than half of that had been recycled. Despite outlawing single-use plastics in 2017, the country is still drowning in them. The Dandora landfill, located in the heart of the Nairobi slums, currently receives more than 2000 metric tons of waste daily.

How Can Your Company Become More Energy-Efficient

How Can Your Company Become More Energy-Efficient?

Countries and companies are consuming too much energy today. The abrupt power cuts in China are a testimony to that. The country was forced to cut power across factories and towns to meet their energy goals. Energy efficiency—using less energy to do more—does not have to be this challenging and cumbersome, not for large corporations or startups.

Cyberport Venture Capital Forum

How Will Humans and Technology Interact in the Next Decades?

While the world has witnessed a rapid digitalization of our everyday life in the course of the pandemic, attention has been brought to the debate that has long been around–how should humans and technology interact? And how do we prepare for new developments? In response to this, Dr. David Siegel, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of financial sciences company Two Sigma.

Top 5 NFT Scam

Top 5 NFT Scam

From art pieces like EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS by Mike Winkelmann to cryptopunks and memes like Side-eyeing Chloe, the popularity of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) has been on the uptick. They have also been blowing up in value in 2021. NFT sale volumes have surged eightfold, reaching US$10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021.

What Brands Must Know About China’s Evolving Millennial Buyers

What Brands Must Know About China’s Evolving Millennial Buyers

Earlier this year, climate activist Greta Thunberg called out fast fashion consumers during an interview with a fashion magazine. She said, “If you are buying fast fashion, then you are contributing to that industry and encouraging them to expand and encouraging them to continue their harmful process.”