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“Scamper” into 2019!

Steve Reid

The City of Cape Town runs an annual ideas competition called #YouthStartCT competition.   The competition sees over 160 entrants drawn from around Cape Town going through business activation training and pitching the business idea they entered.

I am unsure what entries will be on show in 2019, but if last year is a good gauge to go by, we should see some unique and impactful ideas going through from the original 100 eventually being weaned down to the top 10.

One of the factors that positions the uniqueness of the idea is the level of innovation embraced.  Last year saw unique ideas in recycling, social interaction and fashion/design to name a few.

Make no mistake, entrepreneurs and businesses are constantly looking for that product or service that will give them a sustainable edge and advantage. The door to this is mainly through innovation.

So what is innovation?

Innovation is simply doing or making something differently to meet a perceived need or gap in the marketplace. Innovation is not merely doing something differently for difference’s sake. Therefore innovation can happen in any industry that uses a procedure that can be changed.

An example of an innovator is George Washington Carver, (born 1861 died 1943),  an American agricultural chemist, agronomist, and experimenter whose development of new products derived from peanuts (groundnuts), sweet potatoes, and soybeans helped revolutionize the agricultural economy of the South.

He actually patented over 300 derivative products from peanuts; among them milk, flour, ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and cosmetics!

Generally, innovation involves creative thinking that isn’t from a traditional viewpoint. It can be difficult when you’re very familiar with something to see it in another way. So several techniques have evolved to help you in this process.

The next question is which technique or tool to use to increase your own innovation engagement?

A popular and simple one is found in the acronym SCAMPER

SCAMPER is based on the notion that everything new is a modification of something that already exists. Each letter in the acronym represents a different way you can play with the characteristics of what is challenging you to trigger new ideas:

  • S = Substitute
  • C = Combine
  • A = Adapt
  • M = Magnify
  • P = Put to Other Uses
  • E = Eliminate (or Minify)
  • R = Rearrange (or Reverse)

To use the SCAMPER technique, first state the problem you’d like to solve or the idea you’d like to develop. It can be anything: a challenge in your personal life or business; or maybe a product, service or process you want to improve.

It is surprising how many products have been developed using SCAMPER, even if people were not aware of using it as an ideas generation framework.

Look at your mobile phone, it substitutes and combines so many things – phone, camera, torch, GPS, calculator, storage device, etc.  Think of how all the apps have added to the functionality of your humble smartphone. Each iteration not only adds to the functionality but apps then adapt, modify and the additional functions that each app adds.

This SCAMPER tool can be used in many ways.

Consider its application in improving sales within your business

Following the SCAMPER recipe, here are a few questions you could ask:

  • S (Substitute): “What can I substitute in my selling process?”
  • C (Combine): “How can I combine selling with other activities?”
  • A (Adapt): “What can I adapt or copy from someone else’s selling process?”
  • M (Magnify/ Modify): “What can I magnify or put more emphasis on when selling?”
  • P (Put to Other Uses): “How can I put my selling to other uses?”
  • E (Eliminate): “What can I eliminate or simplify in my selling process?”
  • R (Rearrange): “How can I change, reorder or reverse the way I sell?”

By thinking through the acronym and applying it systematically, one should be able to “uncover” a few key ways to improve the products, services or processes within your business.

Here are examples applied within Industry and well known businesses.

  • A mobile phone was combined with a camera and then an MP3 player. 
  • The roll-on deodorant was an idea adapted from the ballpoint pen. 
  • Restaurants that offer all you can eat have maximized their proposition. 
  • A low cost airline like SAFAIR has minimized (or eliminated) many elements of service. 
  • De Beers put industrial diamonds to other use when they launched engagement rings. 
  • Dell Computers and Amazon eliminated the intermediary. 
  • MacDonald’s rearranged the conventional restaurant by getting customers to pay first and then eat.

I think the magic of this process is that it can help us take our every day, ordinary and sometimes mundane world…….and transform it into value adding products, services and ideas through thinking and acting innovatively.


Steve is the manager of False Bay College’s Centre For Entrepreneurship/ Rapid Incubator. Their mission is to grow resilient, innovative youth enterprises.

The CFE/RI will be hosting an information session in February for those keen to start their entrepreneurial journey with the support of an incubator.

Those wanting to know more may contact 021-2011215 for more information or go to their website www.falsebayincubate.co.za

Roy Taberer speaks on SAFM’s Viewpoint show on the need for innovators to protect their ideas

Roy Taberer speaks on SAFM’s Viewpoint show on the need for innovators to protect their ideas.

Listen to the interview here: https://iono.fm/e/631733?fbclid=IwAR1_ifAoMgN5Vye-Wojk78PIJvmFJr0K-mx0frBqHTqQp8KKbze6Xu5rXN4

From Idea to Reality: Microbide

Taberer Attorneys is proud to be associated with clients who have shown the drive and commitment needed to translate an idea or invention into reality – to become successful businesses, well positioned for the future. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of these clients’ businesses.

In our second edition of this series, we’d like to showcase Microbide.

Mary Skelly is an Irish American with a long career in the life-sciences. It was over a decade ago that Mary, together with a South African chemist, conceived of a family of highly effective, biodegradable chemicals that control infestations of anything from microbes (bacteria, viruses and fungi) to insects.

This family of chemicals, called aldehydes, are known biocides. However, they are also skin and eye irritants and they tend to have a very short shelf-life.

The invention of micellar aldehydes was stabilised to become targeted biocides – they effectively killed the target organism – before biodegrading to carbon dioxide and water. The patent protecting this invention is now granted in 76 territories.

Microbide’s formulations are environmentally friendly, ready to use, have a longer shelf-life, and are more effective than competing products.

The challenge was to commercialise these products to produce medical device disinfectants, spray-on larvacides for the control of mosquitos, and horticultural fungicides. This has been a long 11-year journey for Mary, which she has pursued relentlessly, finally resulting in the big break with a significant investment into the company which has put Microbide on the road to commercial success.

A production facility has been established in Wicklow, Ireland. Distributors for their products have been identified in the UK, Ireland, USA and Europe. Another significant market for Microbide is India, where they have commenced negotiations with several JV partners, and are sourcing local manufacturing and packaging facilities.

Yet another amazing example of taking an abstract invention to commercial reality by building a business underpinned by an innovative product.

Roy Taberer speaks on the Kaya Bizz show on why entrepreneurs and innovators need to protect their Intellectual Capital

Roy Taberer speaks on the Kaya Bizz show on why entrepreneurs and innovators need to protect their Intellectual Capital

Listen to the interview here: https://iono.fm/e/623033

From Idea to Reality: Papstix

Whilst great ideas or inventions abound, turning the idea into reality is something quite different. You need to look no further than the patent office, and delve into the countless patents on file, to appreciate great invention, but on paper. Many of these inventions never evolve into commercial reality.

Why then is it so difficult to bridge the chasm separating idea from business reality?

Without wanting to sound critical (and bearing in mind that I for one don’t have an inventive bone in my body) the reason in my opinion is simple: the need for absolute unwavering desire and commitment. More often than not, a person with an idea holds the notion that once they have patented the idea, the work has been done. They can now sit back and wait for the flood of offers to buy the patent.

Unfortunately, this notion is an idealization; a desire for the reward but not the sacrifice. Holding onto this notion often ends in disappointment. Ideas don’t sell, viable businesses built on idea or innovation do. It is in building these businesses – producing a product that is underpinned by the idea or invention – that the sacrifice necessary for success is required: the insane hours, the obnoxious bureaucracy and the many failed iterations.

Taberer Attorneys is proud to be associated with clients who have shown this drive and commitment to bring an idea into reality to become successful businesses, well positioned for the future. Over the next few weeks we’ll be showcasing some of these clients’ businesses.

Let’s starts with Papstix (Pty) Ltd.

Over a decade ago, pastry chef and hotelier, Lawrence Mattock, conceived of an idea of taking pap & relish from the plate to an eat-on-the-move, convenience snack. It took Lawrence from that early moment of inspiration to finally put his idea to the test by finding angel investors, building a prototype “patented” machine (which co-extrudes the pap outer layer and the relish core into a plastic sausage-shaped tube) and making the product which he calls Papstix.

Papstix is now a delicious, cheap, substantial and nutritious meal that comes in a variety of flavours including Original (tomato and onion relish), Chakalaka (mild and spicy carrot relish) and Chunks (soya and onion). Additional flavours are in development which will include Peanut Butter & Syrup.

Papstix have a 30-day shelf life and do not require refrigeration. Given the nutritional value, substance, ease of transportation and storage, the product is a great socioeconomic option for feeding programmes; providing an instant solution to rural and disaster areas as well as meeting the needs of starving populations and refugees.

Papstix are the ideal lunch-box meal for school children, with no need for heating, utensils or a plate, they can be eaten anywhere by anyone. Quick, easy, neat, nutritional and satisfying. Also ideal for school feeding schemes as well as school tuck shops or mobile vending during school events e.g. sports days.

An amazing example of taking a concept from a mere idea, to a reality, and building a business underpinned by an innovative product.