From Silicon Valley to New York, startups everywhere are focusing on new ways to harness the power of technology to make our lives more efficient. Many "things" are no longer just inanimate objects. Your fashion accessories can now double up to charge your electronic devices, your smartphone can take credit card payments, and your car, well, it can park itself. Entrepreneurs are constantly changing the way we think about everything - even in longstanding, traditional industries like real estate, clothing, and health and wellness.

It's pretty exciting to think about how we can revolutionize our must-have services - but changing longstanding business methodologies and getting the public to embrace a fresh, new way of operating is certainly an obstacle. Here are three must dos for anyone looking to change the game:

1. Think in Terms of Efficiency

Many times, the best idea is to simplify and streamline an already existing model.

SunFrog, for example, started as a hobby for Josh Kent in 2013 and is now the largest T-shirt Company in the United States, with over 11 million designs and an Alexa Rating in the top 500. The reason it grew so quickly is that Josh and his team found a way to make the T-shirt designing and selling process infinitely more efficient for everyone involved.

The self-described as "the Etsy of shirts," SunFrog allows artists to upload their designs and gives them a platform to sell their shirts. Large affiliate companies can sell the shirts on their individual websites, which direct back to SunFrog - the artist receives a cut and the seller receives a larger cut. Also noteworthy in their business model is that the founders innovated a way to print T-shirts on-demand, so there's no need to print and store a million of them in a warehouse, gathering dust (and losing the company money).

2. Connect the Dots

We all love to talk about how Uber completely changed the taxi industry - but a lot of taxi drivers are still pretty mad about it (a common side effect of disruption). Many new startups are learning from this and finding ways to enhance the work industry professionals are doing, without displacing them.

Case in point, Zeel aims to transform the $50 billion massage industry by bringing customers spa-quality, in-home massages through their mobile app. After initially ruffling a few feathers in a change-resistant industry, Zeel's creator and CEO, Samer Hamadeh, was finally accepted on the scene.

At first, spa owners were concerned that the newcomer's on-demand massages would weaken the industry, but Hamadeh found a way to benefit fellow providers through strategic partnerships, while simultaneously expanding his business to over 7,000 therapists in more than 36 cities.

There's strength in numbers. If you can find a way to connect the dots through strong ideation and get the masses onboard with you, you'll have a built in marketing and sales engine.

3. Always Focus on Customer Experience

We can never get so wrapped up in innovation that we forget customer experience. No matter how good the product is, a less-than-stellar transaction can be death.

Successful startups like Vacasa are paying extra close attention to all phases of their customer journey.

Yes, the travel and leisure industry's been shaken up a few times by tech startups - and like Airbnb and HomeAway, Vacasa also lists homes for rent. But what sets this company apart is that they also hire and grow local customer service teams, rather than relying 100% on P2P contractors. While marketplace platforms are a popular business model, they rely heavily on unknown variables when it comes to business transactions. By introducing a full-service model - the company can control the booking process, making sure that all parties have a smooth, enjoyable experience.


If you are looking to change an entire industry, always keep these three elements in mind and remember, you don't have to completely reinvent the wheel - you just have to make a slicker, faster wheel!

Published on: Aug 30, 2016