When an entrepreneur brings an idea to an investor, sometimes they are referred to as the next Facebook, or “the Uber for (insert any industry).” Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that many ideas and businesses are not game changers and will not become a “unicorn.” A unicorn, in the world of business, is a startup company that does not have an established performance record, with a stock market valuation or estimated valuation of more than $1 billion. One way this is certain, is the way in which the product or service evolves or revolutionizes the industry is where the value is created for the key stakeholders.
In some spheres in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, ideas and businesses will be labeled as revolutionary or evolutionary. These labels explain the potential impact the product or service will have on an industry and the marketplace overall.
Evolutionary products take something that already exists and makes it bigger, better or faster. Typically automation or technology improves a process or system and often new materials make it possible to do something faster. Many times, someone will take an old business model and tweak it, bend it and pivot it in such a way that the industry is evolved in a new direction. When you look at the newest home goods company, or health supply company, or a mobile app for completing a daily task, or the next “smart” thermostat, you are looking at the modern evolution of a product.
One great example of a company evolving within the health industry is TESPO, founded by Jeff Linton and Ted Mills. TESPO is transforming the way consumers receive their supplements. Through a proprietary countertop appliance, the consumer is provided with a unique way to dispense and mix with a liquid to create an easy-to-consume method for ingesting supplements. The company is currently experiencing exceptional acceptance in the market with plans to continue their growth and success in the medical space.
On the contrary, there are the businesses that are referred to as revolutionary. These businesses forever change what we do. They take an industry that once operated one way and have us look at it in a totally different manner. These companies tend to be the most destructive, gain the biggest market share and achieve the highest valuations. The founders of these companies are put on pedestals for being so innovative and forward-thinking. What is interesting is that early on, most of these entrepreneurs were questioned and their ideas were often shut down because they were so revolutionary in nature that no one really understood them. Whether Steve Jobs and Apple, or Elon Musk and space exploration, or Travis Kalanick and Uber, these ideas forever transformed the way we do things in our daily lives.
If you find your idea doesn’t fit into the evolutionary or revolutionary categories, still check with your mentor, advisor or investor. Their feedback may be construed as negative at first, but in actuality it can be a very positive and uplifting opportunity. It is a chance to create a pivot, make changes, or make improvements to ultimately move closer to entrepreneurial success.