Wednesday, October 17, 2012

find products for your customers

I remember this story from last year about the kid who invented a doorbell which calls the householder's mobile phone if nobody answers the door.

Laurence Rook, the 13 year old boy from Croydon, said he got the idea after noticing his mother had missed several deliveries by not being in the house.

Laurence licensed his invention off to the tune of circa 250k.

At the time it struck me that the combined innovation departments of BT, Orange, T-mobile, Vodafone and goodness knows who else from the telco sector had failed to notice this simple customer insight/problem, yet a 13 year-old kid, paying attention, had come up with fantastic piece of utility using a sim card and some bits and pieces lying about the house.

Another one that the telco's have missed cropped up on FIR: the Hobson and Holtz Report podcast that I listened to this morning in the car.

This was the first time I'd heard of Connectify, a software based router for Windows computer that shares wi-fi connections your other devices.

One of the principal benefits for the business, or otherwise, traveller being that in many hotels the wi-fi access is limited to one device at a time - Connectify solves that conundrum.

Again, one has to wonder why this had to be invented by a small start-up (the software's development was funded via crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, by the way) when there was a simple customer insight to be leveraged and yet none of the telco's saw the opportunity.

I'm reminded of this simple maxim that Seth Godin is often quoted on, in regard to where businesses should look for innovation opportunities and to temper the impulses that lead them to be hellbent on acquisition of new customers.

'Don't just look to finding customers for your products, find products for your customers.'

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