First, we had Sony Walkman cassette players, and then came the Discman. Then, the iPod brought us into the mp3 era, and today we stream curated playlists of music that we rarely own on services such as Spotify. That, in a nutshell, is the history of listening to music on the go in the last thirty years. As the old axiom goes, the only constant is change, and you don’t have to look any further than the smart phone in your hand to see how quickly and completely many things in our lives have changed.
Many companies are caught flat-footed when a new, innovative start-up arrives on the scene to eat their lunch. Sony was trying to sell a better Discman long after the mp3 writing was on the wall. Kodak missed the boat on digital photography and went bankrupt. Today, companies like Amazon, Airbnb, and theLotter are using innovative technologies and ideas to significantly disrupt, and improve, what were previously staid industries.
Amazon isn’t a new company at all, it’s been around since 1994, but it makes our list of industry disruptors because disruption is all Amazon has done since day 1. Speaking of day 1, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has a favorite saying; ‘every day will be day 1 at Amazon.’ He wants his company to stay hungry and sharp and not become complacent. The results speak for themselves. It’s hard to imagine that Amazon started as a company that sold books over the then nascent, embryonic means of communication called the internet.
First, Amazon completely changed the book business by offering readers more choice and better prices than any brick and mortar store ever could, it also changed the way we read, by developing the Kindle e-reader. With the Kindle, Amazon also gave itself a monopoly on a new book format, the Kindle edition, as well as a much cheaper means of distribution; downloading a book instead of shipping it. From selling books, Amazon took on traditional retail and largely won, especially with the introduction of Amazon Prime that made hundreds of thousands of items available to Prime subscribers within two days, with free shipping.
In June 2017, Amazon decided to buy the upscale US grocery chain Whole Foods for $13 billion. Speculation abounds on why, exactly, Amazon bought Whole Foods. Perhaps it plans to turn Whole Foods’ 400 plus locations into pickup centers for Prime users, perhaps Amazon wants a physical presence in the $800 billion grocery business in the United States, or none of the above. One thing is for sure, stock prices of rival grocery chains fell as Wall St. bets, once again, on Amazon bringing its wind of creative destruction to any industry it enters.
Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were broke and living in San Francisco in 2008 when they decided to rent out their living room to bring in a little cash. They dubbed their available space an AirBed and Breakfast and listed it while the Industrial Design Conference was taking place in downtown San Francisco. Sure enough, all of the hotels were booked and some adventurous conference-goers took a chance and booked Chesky and Gebbia’s living room. With that, Airbnb was born.
Airbnb’s basic concept remains the same; people can rent out their spaces to others, and vice versa, through the site. Users need to make a profile that’s linked to a Facebook account to establish an identity and trust. Both renters and rentees leave reviews of their experience to build a reputation on the site.
Today, Airbnb boasts over 2,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities in 191 countries. Compare that to the world’s largest hotel chain, the InterContinental Hotels Group ,that has 766,000 rooms in 5,174 hotels across in almost 100 countries. Airbnb’s success is staggering and has many in the hospitality industry looking over their shoulder.
TheLotter launched in 2002 and immediately changed the landscape of one of the most staid and regulated industries on the planet: the lottery. TheLotter’s innovative business model is stunningly simple; bring lotteries online by allowing players to fill out a digital entry and then buy an official ticket matching the online entry on behalf of the player.
If, for example, you want to play US Powerball, you simply fill out your entry on the site, then theLotter buys an identical, official Powerball entry on your behalf. The ticket is yours, theLotter is simply the lottery messenger service that picks it up for you. The physical tickets are scanned and uploaded to your account and the actual ticket is kept secure in a safe. If your ticket is a winner, theLotter will either collect and transfer the winnings on your behalf, or arrange for you to collect their prize in person in the event of a jackpot or other large win.
Regardless of win size, theLotter does not take any fees from wins, just a service fee for purchasing the ticket on your behalf. With that, theLotter brought the planet’s largest and most exciting jackpots to whoever wanted to play them, regardless of which country they are playing from. TheLotter now gives lottery players more choice than ever before. It offers over 50 lotteries from 20 countries, as well as iOS and Android apps for people who want to play on the go. To date, theLotter has paid out more than $80 million to over 2 million winners on the site.