The Art of Disruptive Innovation

What’s the best & fastest growing type of business? Any business that’s disruptive to existing companies in the industry by pushing the status quo, connecting buyers and sellers together in new markets, or driving down prices in established markets.

Entrepreneurs looking for ideas for new ventures should ask themselves:

  • What services could be provided 90 percent cheaper - or free - and offered to a much wider market?
  • What types of assets have no liquidity, and need a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers?
  • What services or processes are fundamentally broken, overpriced, or terribly frustrating?
  • How can you create an offering that’s better than all the alternatives out there?

If you asked yourself these questions you might have come up with groundbreaking ideas and innovations like:

iStockPhoto.com – Making the purchase of stock photography easy and affordable by crowdsourcing the photographs from people around the  world. The company is now turning over $300m in revenues and has created a whole new class of people who happily pay $1-$10 for a single image.

MaxCDN.com – Big internet media companies have long relied on companies like Akamai and Limelight to syndicate their files across thousands of servers worldwide to improve loading time. The problem? Five and six-figure multi-year contracts made their services unaffordable to anything but the biggest web properties. MaxCDN breaks down the barriers and offers a competitive service for the everyman.

SecondMarket.com – Prior to the creation of this marketplace, people who owned stock in private enterprises like Facebook and Twitter had no way to sell their shares until the business was sold or went public. SecondMarket changed all of that, by allowing institutions and individuals to trade shares in private enterprises.

Square – What if anyone with a smart phone could accept credit card payments, without expensive setup fees or a lengthy application process? Square enables everyone from the at-home personal trainer to your vegetable seller at the farmers market an easy method for accepting Visa & Mastercard payments.

PlentyOfFish – What if you take something that usually costs money (online dating) and make it free for everyone by keeping your costs low? That’s exactly what PlentyOfFish has done, making a fortune in the process.

AirBnB.com – Millions of people have unused spare bedrooms in their houses & apartments that go unused and never generate any revenue. So what would happen if you created a marketplace that connects people spare space with renters looking for temporary accommodation? 800 percent growth in 2010, and over 1 million nights booked since 2008, that’s what.

99designs.com – What if professional graphic design services were made affordable, and risk-free to the tens of thousands of small business owners unable to pay $2000 for a brochure or $5000 for a logo? What would happen if you eliminated the need for entrepreneurs to pick a single designer upfront based on their quote and their portfolio? And what if you give the entrepreneur dozens or hundreds of custom made designs to choose from, instead of just two or three? You end up with 99designs, which took home a Webby Award for Best Web Service in 2010, but not without its fair share of controversy from established designers who felt their industry get disrupted.

As these examples show, the world is ripe with opportunities for the picking, old incumbents who need a kick, and connecting buyers and sellers in new markets.

Innovative disruption can only come from the outside. Starwood Properties would have never created AirBnB, Match.com could have never created PlentyOfFish and Getty Images would have never been able to get iStockPhoto off the ground themselves (though they ended up acquiring it for $50 million – a smart move on their part).

It takes passionate, and visionary entrepreneurs like us to make it happen – to take on the old, broken models and re-invent them for the next decade and a new class of consumers.

Matt Mickiewicz started his first company while still in High School, and has leveraged his early success into 3 profitable businesses which have have published 50+ web design books in 20 languages, paid designers over $15 million for their graphic design work through 99designs, and helped entrepreneurs sell over $45 million in websites and domain names on Flippa.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.)The Young Entrepreneur Council (Y.E.C.) provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Our organization promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.

About Matt Mickiewicz

Matt Mickiewicz is the CEO of Hired.com - a curated marketplace for recruiting Engineering Talent that's used by 500+ SF & New York based start-ups.

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