Tag Archives: UK

Stoke Your Innovation Bonfire Today

Stoke Your Innovation Bonfire Today

Did you know that if you buy a paper copy of my book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon, you can start reading it Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader today?

Well you can!

Pretty cool!

And if you prefer, you can just buy the Kindle version instead.

I’m not sure if this works in every country where Amazon has a presence, but it’s worth a try if you just can’t wait for a copy of the book to be delivered. Click the country link to go to the book’s page on that Amazon site:


Who will be the first to review Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire on Amazon in China and Japan?

Or to invite me to speak there, for that matter. 😉

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Changing Business Models Around

Changing Business Models AroundSome business models and products have been around so long that we just take them for granted, while others concepts that are becoming new business models are so new that we’re not quite sure what to expect. It is probably easiest to explain what I mean and why this juxtaposition is important by looking at a few examples. Most of these examples involve challenging our orthodoxies.

1. Coffee Shops

In the typical coffee shop pretty much anywhere in the world, the business model works like this – you buy a coffee and it comes along with it the right to take up a place at any table in the café for as long as you want. So, coffee buys you time. An article I came across on NPR highlights an entrepreneur in Moscow that has opened a restaurant that loosely translates to the Clockface Café where instead of buying coffee and getting time, you instead buy time ($4/hr per person for the 1st hour and $2 an hour after that, up to a maximum of $12 after 5 hours) and get coffee for free. Ivan Meetin, the founder, plans to open his next café in London. Meanwhile I have heard of similar operations in Paris, and by now they can probably also be found elsewhere. So, in your business what do people get for free, and what do they pay for? And is there an opportunity to change around what you charge for?

2. Waste Disposal

In many businesses, and in the creation of most products, there is waste. And in most cases, businesses pay to have this waste removed from their premises. Or there may be waste that the customer has to pay to have removed. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.

KFC, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. used to have to pay to have their used fryer oil picked up, but now thanks to the rise of biodiesel they may even make money from this waste product.

Chicken FeetChicken processors used to throw the feet away after processing a truckload of chickens, but after they discovered that chicken feet are a delicacy in several Asian countries, they stopped throwing them away and instead started exporting them. In fact, chicken feet sell for more per pound than chicken breasts in China.

Broken OREO’s used to have no value before Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream (and now Cookies ‘n’ Cream OREO’s) were discovered.

And finally, I came across an example of a bottle cap concept created by designers from the Lanzhou University of Technology in China, intended to give poor children access to building blocks for play, from what was previously thrown away.

Building Caps

3. Discounts for Data

Data security and privacy is becoming an increasingly hot topic, and in the past companies would either ask customers for their data and not give them anything for it, or just not ask for it. But now we are seeing some interesting models of companies asking customers for data and instead giving them something of value in exchange. For example, Urban Outfitters rewards users that respond to promotions inside their mobile app or to users that allow its app to connect to their Twitter or Instagram accounts with points that can be redeemed for sale previews, concert tickets, or early access to new pieces. What data do you want from your customers? What is it worth to you? How could this exchange be made engaging and not be seen as a purely financial transaction?

4. The Soft Drink Category is Saturated and Cold

Soft drinks… How many people out there think that the soft drink category is a blue ocean full of incredible opportunities for unbounded growth for established soft drink makers? Most people would say that this is a mature category and a tough place for companies, full of merciless competition. But yet, people continue to innovate and challenge this orthodoxy. Witness a couple of interesting new concepts.

Shericks ShakesBritain has always been a hotbed of innovation, and the country that brought us Pret a Manger and Innocent smoothies brings us this tasty treat. Mr. Sherick’s Shakes brings people a little bit of luxury to their day in the form of their high quality milkshakes.

Meanwhile in Japan, there is a growing trend manifesting in a wave of product launches in the soft drink category that are not cold, but instead hot. Witness this example of what has always been a cold drink, Ginger Ale, being brought into the Japanese market as a hot beverage by Coca Cola’s Canada Dry unit.

Canada Dry Hot Ginger AlePeople always love something new and different, even if it is something old that has disappeared from the market. This is why fashion runs in cycles, and in a mature category like soft drinks there is no reason why we shouldn’t keep these principles in mind and see if now is the time to bring something back, or to see if there is an orthodoxy that we shouldn’t now look at challenging to see if an opportunity might not be created.


Innovation transforms the useful seeds of invention into widely adopted solutions valued above every existing alternative. Value comes not just from physical invention, or business model innovation, but from psychological and emotional benefits as well and the creation of new psychological or emotional value can happen in any industry at any point in time, no matter how mature the category seems to be. We as humans are strange creatures and we simultaneously fight against change (and hold back innovation as a result) and embrace new things (or at least like to try them). So challenge your patterns of accepted thinking to look for opportunity and work to overcome your beliefs that everything that could be done has been done in your industry.

Keep innovating!

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Innovation in the Fairway

Innovation in the Fairway

Twenty-three-year-old inventor Arnold Du Toit was recently named Britain’s best young entrepreneur by PC World Business for the Rolley. Here is some background information about Arnold from the announcement:

“Arnold started his firm when he was 21 years old in his final year of university. The idea came about after his friend complained that a full round of 18 holes took too long. Arnold captured the judges’ imaginations with his entrepreneurial spirit in getting the Rolley to market by overcoming financial and patent issues. The judges praised the Rolley’s design, with its lightweight fold-up dynamics that make it easily transportable, and his use of social media. They were also excited by the potential to rent fleets of Rolleys to golf courses and Arnold’s plans to diversify the technology into security, airports and factories.”

When I came across this announcement, a couple of things struck me. First, the power of programs like the Enterprise Associate Scheme at London South Bank University to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting aspiring inventors and entrepreneurs in their quest to find out whether they may have the next great innovation.

Second, it was interesting in speaking with Arnold that the concept of a hop-on power trolley has been around for some time, but has not made the leap yet from invention to innovation. As I have said before, true innovation is typically a slow process, and often we forget that. Inventions do not often turn into innovations until the solution has passed a certain price/performance threshold and until a certain person in the chain of inventors identifies where the biggest value is created by the solution, and helps people access that value and translates that value for the target customers better than any of those that came before them. It looks to me like the Rolley may be achieving the right combination of value creation, value access, and value translation to become a successful innovation. Only time will tell.

I had the opportunity to interview Arnold recently about his experience in developing the Rolley and the text of the interview and some bonus material follows:

1.Why is now the right time for the Rolley?

The Rolley stands at the forefront of Electric Vehicle (EV) management, which is what the Drive Daddy Ltd Brand is all about. Using our TWINDRIVE technology we are introducing the Hop-On Rolley Golf now, but this is the only first of many innovative Rolley concepts. We have other concepts in the pipeline including our Rolley Port/Lift… project with factories and logistic sectors that will feature our new EV technology. There is no better time than now to be thinking about where the future of transport is going. The popularity of hybrid cars, electric bicycles, folding “transportables” and the growing need to for space conservation are all intersecting to point to a future where smart lifestyle products such as the Rolley will be an increasingly integrated part of our life.

2. Does the Rolley augment or transform the golfing experience? How so?

Rolley Video PrepGolf is a delicate and well-refined sport and leisure activity, with quality, confidence and professionalism at its core. The Rolley Golf offers freedom to golfers who want or need to maximise their golf performance and get exercise to maintain health, without hindering the consistent energy needed to complete a round of 18/36 holes. Some golfer need to relax during the back nine or simply do not have the time to otherwise get the most out of the memberships, given that young golfers need to typically invest 4 hours on average to complete a round (their through rate). Golfers can either walk freely with the Rolley Golf in power assisted trolley mode, utilize the Rolley Remote-Control, or green to tee or on a steep long incline utilize the unit in a swift Hop-On & ride mode. Rolley Golf boasts a compact and lightweight folding dynamic which rivals or betters the current power assisted trolleys which do not offer a hop-on aspect.

3. Why hasn’t someone done this before?

Hop-On is our own unique design/engineering philosophy, allowing golfers to walk, or to hop on and rolley about so they can streamline and focus performance effort where its needed, their swing. The idea of a ride-on golf trolley has been around since the 60s, Google this if you like. But these, albeit great concepts, focused primarily on the ride-ability and not on what golfers actually want to-date. So the Rolley grabs an entirely new market with a Hop-On Philosophy. Golfers and people in general are smart by nature. Therefore the Rolley Golf caters for choice, and how you chose your choices is how you determine smartness (that is a little deep) and we are working with a unique team of young creatives based in London, YawnCreative.com, who are helping us share the Hop-On Rolley revolution. This is our greatest value proposition (USP).

4. Tell us about the Enterprise Associate Scheme and how it helped make the Rolley a reality

London South Bank University’s Enterprise Associate Scheme (EAS) acts as a board of investors who (like Dragons Den) allow entrepreneurs to pitch for a 2 year business incubator, with Legal, Patent protection, Finance, business support, office space, laboratories, machine shops… and a Masters degree in Enterprise (and trust me, completing a masters and trying to run your own start-up is a hand-full, many late night classes, but worth every minute). Well, if you are lucky enough and you make the cut (only 3-4 ideas a year get chosen out of hundreds of applications), then they financially support you, and offer unique financing processes to help you develop your idea and business into concepts. And, if you really gun-it then you could even reach manufacturing and sales in your two year stint as a enterprise associate. And for this “investment” – which is hard to quantify (around £100-200k of value) – they only have a 10% share in your company. The support can even continue in terms of free office space and IP protection for as long as you have a business. I believe it is the closest to winning the lottery that any hard working entrepreneur can get. Especially as they take you through this EAS from as little as an idea on a napkin (providing you can sell your pitch of course).

5. Who are the inventors, entrepreneurs, or innovators that have inspired you?

I am proudly the inventor of TWINDRIVE and the Rolley innovations, but I work in a business incubator where you are surrounded by aspiring and hungry entrepreneurs who alone can make you happy it is Monday again and sad when Friday arrives. Luckily we can even work weekends! These young venturists support and drive you through the rough patches (which there are many, many of these). On the other hand, I love meeting people and I have met some great and inspiring Inventors through the EAS such as James Barnham (to name one of many) and also some truly amazing entrepreneurs such as Neil Whitehead from Stuff ID. There is also a truly supportive group of mentors from all walks of life. But the one person who requires a stand alone recognition for inspiration is my farther David du Toit – my foundation and idol.

6. Tell us about your aha moment

Rolley FounderI have many loves in life – women, cars, golf and engineering. These passions help me notice opportunities. I spotted one on the golf course one day playing a round with dad, as one of his friends was a little tired (hungover) and tried to hop on his power trolley. This unfortunately did not carry him as he’d hoped but instead broke. Frustrated at the £800 he spent on it (about $1300), he started giving it the 7 iron. Through the shards of plastic and circuitry I got my eureka moment for a final year project – this was back in 2006. I developed the concept of a hop-on golf trolley during 2008/2009 as a final year project for my undergraduate course in Engineering Design at London South Bank University (LSBU). The chap with the busted up power trolley would soon become my first customer 🙂

7. What was the obstacle that almost kept the Rolley from becoming a reality?

If I look back at who I was two years ago, I would have to say finance was a big obstacle, but you soon realise that there are ways around the money hurdle. It gave me a good lesson, and over time I’ve learned to negotiate and present opportunities to those who hide behind invoices. Strategic partnerships can also be a smart way of sharing technology platforms, finance and advice. They can also be founded upon contract and equity sharing, thus reducing the hard cash requirements of the venture. Another real hurdle would be time, but being aware of the constraints that this presents helps has helped reinforce the golden rule of under promising and over delivering.

8. Do you have any advice to other inventors/entrepreneurs/innovators out there?

Look after every single person who seeks advice from you, or admires a quality that they see in you. As entrepreneurs in our day and age it is vital to support each other. Seek events and enterprising communities that will provide mutual encouragement and support. In London we have the Virgin Media Pioneers, and this is a great place to share advice and meet like minded folk. Your contacts, and I mean “real relationships with honest people”, and working to create win-win relationships are going to be two ways to move things forward. Most importantly, where possibly try not to re-invent the wheel. Look at your idea and see if there are companies who do an aspect of your invention better that you, talk to them, and remember that any new revenue stream for a smart company must be structured as a win-win. And, of course please feel free to follow @RolleyGolf to see our progress 🙂


I will be interested to see how the Rolley progresses. Arnold and the crew have embarked on a world tour to launch the product and are producing a video to showcase it (sneak peek here). It will be interesting to see whether now is the time for the hop-on golfing revolution to begin.

The Rolley is not the first invention addressing the hop-on golf trolley idea, but will it be the first one to bridge the gap between invention and innovation?

To watch some of the progression in this solution area, here are two other takes on the hop-on golf trolley. The first is the SWIGO from three and a half years ago, followed by the MANTYS from 21 months ago:

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