New businesses ideas: when connecting beats creating

Ralph Strachwitz | Kulinado

“Often people think that in order to start a new business, they need to invent something completely new. Have a great idea and build it up from scratch. I don’t think so. I think most great business ideas come up when we find idle resources in existing structures and start using them in a new way.

Taking a closer look, you will find that many well-established businesses started as neat combinations of existing things, building upon established structures. Fleurop, for instance, neither grow flowers nor do they run flower shops. Flixbus and MeinFernbus didn’t buy new buses when they entered the market, but instead co-used buses by longhaul transportation companies that were hardly being used. The parcel services in Germany could only survive because they started cooperating with small kiosks for their services rather than running their own office in every neighbourhood.

My own venture is Kulinado – a food business. We want people to stop eating low quality fast-food for lunch, so we deliver freshly cooked, healthy dishes for offices without canteens. But even though food is our business, we don’t actually prepare any. We don’t even have a kitchen and we don’t employ cooks. Why not? Because there are tons of good restaurants in town, with proper kitchens and great cooks, that are off-peak during lunchtime. The same goes for cars. We own a few for bigger clients and occasions, but not enough to serve our entire network. Cars in German cities are out of use around 23 hours a day – resources that we make use of. The local restaurants prepare the food and our drivers deliver in their own cars. That way the restaurants get more orders at lunchtime, the drivers get more money and the office employees get healthier food. Kulinado merely connects idle resources.

Combining the old in new ways has never been as illustrious as having breakthrough ideas. But I believe it is a more promising way of finding business opportunities. Whenever you discover people, objects or places that seem to be idle for extended amounts of time – you know there is business potential to be unlocked.”

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