Steps for Disrupting your Industry, the Nimble way
Disruption is a buzzword used to describe innovative strategies implemented by companies.
So what is disruption, and why is it important to your business?
Disruptive ideas are usually customer focused. They address customer wants and needs that have been ignored by previous products. Famous examples include Uber, Netflix, airbnb, and smart phones.
If your company has a disruptive idea, you’ll get the first mover advantage. It will take a while for the other players to catch up, and in the meantime you can make a name for yourself, make money, and where possible file patents.
But you can’t just decide to “be disruptive”. You need a truly revolutionary idea, and you need to implement it in the right way.
In light of StartCon’s upcoming Fireside Chat with Nimble chief executive and founder Greg Ellis, let’s look at that company’s disruptive strategy as an example.
Nimble is a financial startup created in 2005. As the business developed, Ellis and his business partner Sean Teahan saw an opportunity for people looking to access short-term loans.
Bootstrapping the business from the start, and mowing lawns to make ends meet, the pair understood their customers from the beginning.
Disrupting the industry
Traditionally, visiting a bank or lender in person was how you got a loan. That meant taking time out of work to visit on a weekday, filling out tedious paperwork, and waiting for approval. Or worse still, a loan shark. Not ideal situations if you’re in a short term bind until next payday.
Nimble therefore created a third choice, a service offering paperless online credit applications, fast approval decisions, and 24/7 payments. It achieved the fast approval rate by taking advantage of technology – using algorithms to quickly and accurately assess whether a new customer can financially handle a loan.
They applied algorithm technology to create a shortcut to the solution: fast and convenient loans.
Nimble wanted its customers to feel comfortable, with a high level of transparency in the company. They therefore offer tools to help people understand their loans and pay them off as quickly as possible.
Eleven years later, the company has grown to over 200 staff and, more importantly, has caused a significant stir in the lending industry. Thousands of Australian's now decide to "Nimble it" each year.
As Nimble booms, other lenders are scrambling to offer more convenient services and take advantage of learning algorithms to lower the debt default rate of their customers.
They set a new standard for the way loans are provided that has impacted the entire industry
The creation of Nimble has caused a new segment of the lending market, successfully causing a huge disruption in the way we think about loans, not just in Australia but globally.
Achieving success like Nimble’s isn’t easy. But there are 4 steps you can take to improve your chances of disrupting the industry you’re working in.
The customer is king
First and foremost, listen to your customers. Is your industry currently lagging behind in technology, usability, or communication? Try being a customer yourself and see what irks you. That is where the opportunities are.
Know your competitors
Keeping an eye on the competition has all kinds of advantages.
If they’re working on something potentially innovative, get on top of it early and try to surpass them.
If they are gaining market share, assess why that is and see how you can incorporate successful strategies. If they are losing market share, try to figure out what they are lacking and if you can better serve their customers, make sure you are vocal about it.
Don’t reinvent the wheel – put it to a different use
Most disruptive businesses don’t invent something new. They usually take existing technology and practices from other industries and use them in an innovative way.
In Nimble’s case this was using machine learning algorithms (not new technology but new for the loan industry) to assess potential borrowers, and putting that technology conveniently in the customer's hands.
Think outside the box – how can you use other technologies and ideas to improve your industry?
Don’t be scared to make your own technology and systems obsolete. Keep several steps ahead of the industry and don’t get too comfortable.
Having the best product doesn’t mean you should stop innovating. You want to have the next big thing ready by the time other companies are catching up to you – or even before that!
Disrupting can be a risky strategy, there is a high level of risk involved – but sometimes a huge payoff.