WE are surrounded by technology – from iPhones to smart TVs, satnavs and watches that can talk to you. Everything has a menu and you need to be on the ball to find your way around some of the gizmos out there. It’s a wonder we survived till now, when you think about it.
Government policy and universities have followed suit and now all new businesses have to be tech, or biotech, even. Apps, lots of apps. Apps to call a taxi, order a pizza, contact your GP and even turn on your heating. There are incubation centres up and down the country full of these new science and technology start-ups. Surely there is more to life and business than this?
Well there sure is.
It was with great relief that I read recently of an Irish success story that is not tech at all, well not in the byte-type of tech. They hail from Gorey in Co Wexford and make, wait for it, pallets! Those square timber things that forklifts take off trucks and stack in warehouses. Yes, just ordinary wooden pallets.
Ire Well decided to make pallets that suited the customers’ needs rather than forcing customers to fit their stuff onto them. Simple, like all great ideas. They are flying – flying onto the forklifts that is. They employ 40 people and have 50% of the Irish market. Low-tech but real and tangible. And it took 15 years of slog to get there too, no five-year IPOs or any of that nonsense.
What’s the message here? Well, nothing stays the same, and if you are looking for business ideas, sometimes it’s worth looking away from tech at the basic everyday things we use and find a better way of doing it. Reinvent the wheel, if you will.
And, read The Shock of the Old by Edgerton while you’re at it.