How to Disrupt: Examples of Disruptive Innovation to Inspire Your Startup

What is disruptive innovation?

Disruptive innovation is a technology that changes the baseline of how the market – and society – operates. It doesn’t streamline or improve existing solutions, but brings a new service to the masses that solves their daily problems.

Why is disruptive innovation important for startups and large corporations alike?

Disruption For Startups

Disrupting the current market is the ultimate goal of all startups. Successful companies need to start small, but dream big: an unprecedented idea draws in customers, talent, and key investors.

Disruption For Corporations

One of the biggest mistakes a large company can make is being complacent in their scope and strategy. Corporations should always keep a startup mentality to research cutting-edge ideas, while using the advantage of their resources to acquire and support growing disruptive technologies.

Stories of disruption: lessons from the experts

One of the most disruptive innovations in history is the Internet. The Internet not only solved the global issue of quick connectivity, but changed the way all people interact and share information. The best ideas not only solve a problem, but create possibilities for living never imagined before.

Read below for more examples of modern disruptors, and learn how to follow in their footsteps. 

Disruptive innovation in publishing 

The road to an innovative technology isn’t always a straight path. Audible, an ubiquitous brand and necessity for the modern reader, was established in 1995 as an mp3 player company with an adjacent website focusing on audiobook downloads. 

This idea turned out to be the seed of their true disruptive technology: Audible Air, a platform that seamlessly downloaded audiobooks to smartphones and deleted chapters once completed, while automatically downloading upcoming ones. Amazon acquired Audible in 2008 after the success of this platform.

What did Audible do next? They created another disruptive technology, the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) which allowed independent creators to easily publish and create copyrights for their work.

The lesson: disruption isn’t just a moment, but a continuous habit.

Disruptive innovation in sports

A lot can be learned from a good startup purpose statement. Sparrow is a prime example of a young company with a disruptive mission: to “become the new reality for golfers everywhere.” Sparrow isn’t necessarily creating a new technology, but is bringing Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to the golfing space by creating a database that makes technical golfing data and personalized lessons accessible to the masses.

The lesson: disrupt by bringing a new world of possibility to an established interest group.

Disruptive innovation in education

One of the most disruptive moves a startup can make is building missing connections. Chisa Egbelu and Kayla Michele, co-founders of PeduL, did just that by building an easy-to-use platform that connects university students with big-name employers seeking diverse talent. PeduL is disruptive in its execution: its relationships with quality talent and employers, as well as user-friendly platform, make it the top resource in the scholarship and internship space.

The lesson: notice how the resources in your community can solve the problems of another.

Disruptive innovation in data

When you rent an apartment, you have certain protections built in to make sure that your home is liveable. Why can’t this same principle apply to other products in our daily lives? This is the question that Ariel Berkman and Sam Gutmann asked and answered with their company OwnBackup, a technology that protects the data used in Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms such as Salesforce in the event that the platform that many businesses depend on malfunctions or has a security breach.

The lesson: question why the positive process of one sector can’t apply to another.

Disruptive innovation in travel

Many startups seek to solve daily problems, but some aim to change the possibilities for our daily reality. Exovolar is a company developing single-user flight technology (think a jetpack for Superman-style flight) that is safe, easy to use, and also widely available to the public. Much like the public couldn’t imagine a better way to travel in their daily lives than by horse until Carl Benz created the first motor vehicle in 1886, the team at Exovolar aims to change the way people see long-distance travel.

The lesson: disrupt the market by making comic book fantasies an actionable reality.

Disruptive innovation in health

RWJBarnabas Health
The largest integrated healthcare delivery system is RWJBarnabas Health, which combines the resources of academic medicine, research, and practice to create a full-cycle health hub for New Jersey residents. They create innovative disruption every day by being present, constantly expanding their reach to different New Jersey communities to cater to their local needs.

The lesson: true disruption requires both innovation and accessibility.

What do all of these companies have in common? They are all rooted in New Jersey! Look to your local networks to support the most disruptive innovations.

To connect with more startups in New Jersey, follow TechUnited:NJ on all platforms:




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