On Innovation

26 Jul

 

One thing that continues to drive my interest is innovation. We tend to focus on the big things – iPads, GPS, etc. but oftentimes overlook the ability to put together a great concept from simple ideas and execution.

I was reminded of this recently on a trip to Vergennes, Vermont. Small town, located between a city (Burlington) and a college town (Middlebury). Right in the middle of town is a new business –Vergennes Laundry. So what’s your image? Stark? Hot? Décor out of mass transit with soda and soap machines.

Not in Vergennes. The store sign says it all—laundry, bakery, espresso bar, cheese shop. I walked inside and the place was packed. Not only doing clothes but having coffee, buying cheese, making conversation. It is taking a concept and turning it on its head. Growing a rather staid business; redirecting shopper traffic, expanding a trade area, filling a need in a small town and (no doubt) making money. Forget it’s a cooperative…it’s a brilliant idea.

When I shared this idea at a recent meeting with sales executives and I was surprised at the resistance to the concept? “It wouldn’t work here”…”too quirky” …”let’s see where they are in a year” and. “near two college towns so it’s going to be different”.

Let’s shoot the innovators shall we? Maybe this business will fail but not for a lack of a concept, some research into the market, and some outstanding initial execution. Maybe it won’t work everywhere but why not look at the thought process and initial research behind it.

When laundry’s become bakeries, I’m first in line.

The Take Away: Innovation should recognized as the synthesis of simple ideas and having data to support those ideas. Allowing innovation to poison innovation before fully nurturing and understanding it is why businesses do not grow or evolve. Business is constantly changing; adaptation is the only solution.

Tags: Innovation Vergennes Vermont New Business Ideas Shoppers 

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