In her latest article, Carmen Murray highlights the incident this year where a small business owner, Shannon McLaughlin of Ubuntu Baba, discovered that her baby carrier product was blatantly copied and even called the same name by the retail giant, Woolworths.
She arranged a podcast interview with Roy Taberer, a patent attorney from Taberer Attorneys, Kimberleigh Stark, Actress and Producer from Stark SA, Shannon McLaughlin, Owner of Ubuntu Baba and Marnus Broodryk, SME Africa, to understand what the lessons are that we could learn from this and how can we protect our ideas better.
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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
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 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.
patented over 300 derivative products from peanuts; among them milk, flour,
ink, dyes, plastics, wood stains, soap, linoleum, medicinal oils, and
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
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
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.
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
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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.
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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
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